I found very good quality limes in the food stores – though the prices have not come down much 🙂 Since the limes were so fresh and luscious, I decided to make this Sweet and Sour Lime Pickle. I have been making this pickle for the last 35 years as my husband loved it. He always wanted a sweet and sour pickle and would also ask for it. I developed this recipe and, as the years went by, I modified it till I arrived at the perfect balance of flavours which was loved by the whole family.
Winter is almost over, but we still get lovely fresh vegetables to make this dish. My mother never made vegetable kuruma, but I always remembered the kuruma we enjoyed when visiting relatives. I tried to reproduce what I had eaten before, but I made the mistake of trying to make it like a meat kuruma which was not well received in the family. I eventually figured out the magic technique – do not use curds, mint, strongly flavoured vegetables like knol-khol (kohlrabi), or strongly pigmented vegetables like beetroot.
January and February are the months when the markets in Tamil Nadu receive the freshest of the so-called English Vegetables. As a child I used to look forward to these months when we used to have peas and cauliflower very often in the menus. The peas are luscious and the cauliflower is so creamy white and crisp. In Palayamkottai (my hometown) Rich Peas Pulav and Muttai Cauliflower used to be prepared every week. My mother had a collection of recipes using these vegetables. One of the favourites was meat cooked along with peas, cauliflower, and, of course, potatoes that are always combined with meat.
January is the month when good quality green peas are available, and this is the time to relish recipes using them. I’ve previously posted the recipe for an Easy Peas Pulav. This version contains ground cashew nuts and powdered spices to give a rich but mild flavour which goes well with the winter season.
I always wanted to make a nourishing one-pot meal that could be prepared easily and provide a family with protein, energy, and vegetables. Potatoes and carrots complement the flavour of beef, and I developed this curry to use a minimum of spices and braised the beef to improve the flavour. I have also used celery salt in this recipe. Celery salt and braising are both unusual in Tamil cooking, but they give this dish an enticing aroma and mouth-watering flavour.
Today is Pongal (the Tamil harvest festival), and it is customary to celebrate with several rich vegetarian dishes. I made this Urulaikizhangu Paal Curry. I came across this recipe in my mother’s recipe collection. She never made this, but I was intrigued by the combination of potatoes and coconut milk with very few spices. It has an enchantingly mild flavour, and the fried cashew nuts added to the curry make it very festive and unique.
Pongal (the Tamil harvest festival) is just around the corner, and it is time to dive back into vegetarian cooking. The vazhaikkai (unripe banana) is regarded as a humble vegetable because it is available all through the year, and the cost doesn’t vary with the seasons. I like to fairy godmother with this vegetable and turn it into a Cinderella with exotic recipes like Vazhaikkai Cutlet. This kuruma is another of my creations, transforming the simple vazhaikkai into a festive special that can be served with Easy Peas Pulav, Potato Pulav, and even with Pooris!