With Ramzan coming in a couple of days, I thought it would be appropriate to post this Tamil Muslim Mutton Kuruma. When it comes to non-vegetarian cooking, especially mutton, the best dishes can usually be found in Tamil Muslim cooking. They have their unique flavour, and Tamil Muslim cooks are hired to prepare meat dishes even for non-Muslim celebrations. I had previously posted my modified versions of a few of Fathima Shajahan’s recipes. This dish is also from her A-1 Muslim Samayal book. I have taken the liberty of modifying certain steps to make cooking easier. This is a flavourful dish which looks as rich as it tastes and is a wonderful complement to my Birinji Rice.
I first had Birinji Rice when my family moved to Chennai in 1957. It was a vegetarian delicacy served at weddings instead of mutton biriyani. Though my family felt disappointed at the lack of meat, I loved its taste, and I used to pester my mother to make it but she didn’t know how – which is not surprising as the key ingredient, kalpasi, was not known in Thirunelveli at that time. Fast forward 63 years, and I finally made my own version which matches the flavour of the birinji rice I used to enjoy so much at Christian weddings. This also makes part of a nice feast at any occasion where meat side dishes are served. It can also be used for a purely vegan/vegetarian feast along with Vegetable Kuruma and Sweet and Sour Brinjal Masala.
During the coronavirus lockdown, people rush around buying vegetables which would keep for more than a week unrefrigerated. Yam and colocasia are in great demand (but not as much as potatoes). Yam is known as senai in Tamil Nadu and kolla means globe. Fried yam balls are made by a few families. Though my mother hadn’t bothered to write down the recipe for me, my husband’s aunt used to make these. I never liked it, perhaps because she wasn’t a great cook 🙂 During this lockdown I bought a lot of yam and then created my own version of Senai Kolla. My son usually doesn’t eat vegetables, but even he didn’t mind this 😀
When we moved to Chennai née Madras in 1957, the first thing we did was to visit the beach. An integral part of the beach experience is sundal (dried peas snack), which is usually sold by mobile snack sellers who offer it along with many other traditional Tamil snacks. The speciality of the Madras beach sundal is that it is flavoured with coconut and unripe mango and served in a newspaper cone. As a child, the flavour was absolutely divine even with the inevitable sand from the beach. The green chillies made it so spicy that I used to cry into the sundal but still loved it 😀 I have now recreated the beach sundal but made the flavour a lot milder so that you can enjoy it in your living room minus the tears and the sand 🙂
During the lockdown, we are forced to stock up on vegetables that can be stored for some time, such as colocasia. That doesn’t mean we have to make only the typical colocasia preparations. I’d previously given recipes for Colocasia Fry and Bonda. I have now come up with this Colocasia Bajji recipe as people are longing for the fried delicacies they used to enjoy before the lockdown. Since the colocasia has a slight sweetish taste, I have used coriander and cumin powder in the batter to complement the flavour. The crisp coating and the soft interior make it a very interesting and scrumptious snack.
Though Easter follows 40 days of vegetarianism, Tamil people don’t have a great spread for the festival. I wanted to offer an alternative to the traditional chicken or mutton biriyani, and I chose this Bacon and Sausage Pulav as it is the same meat-and-rice type of dish, but is also very different and very mild flavoured. This is a scrumptious one-dish meal, and it only needs ketchup as an accompaniment if required.
Now that it is Palm Sunday we can begin planning the Easter feast 🙂 During this lockdown, one has to make do with what we have stocked up on. I needed a dish that I could make with the ingredients I had at home and found this recipe in the Encyclopaedia of Creative Cooking. The original required almonds to be mixed into the batter, but I didn’t have any so I replaced them with cashew nuts on top of the cookies. I also added a quarter teaspoon of salt to the recipe to emphasise the sweetness. These cookies turned out to be very crisp and were polished off with a lot of noise in no time!