Tiny shrimps are referred to as Chenna Kunni in Tamil Nadu. They are salted and dried whole i.e., with the head and shell intact. These are combined with vegetables and prepared as poriyal (fry). I came up with this recipe as I wanted to prepare a very high protein side dish, and dry shrimp has very concentrated protein. I used broad beans as their water content is not very high, and that goes well with the dry shrimp. Chenna kunni is usually combined with drumstick leaves in Tamil Nadu.
Kandhar Appam is a festive sweet preparation. Though many claim that it originated in Chettinad, it is very popular in Thirunelveli district also. It is usually prepared during Deepavalli, the festival of light and sound that is enjoyed by anyone with a sweet tooth 🙂 Though the homemade sweets have been replaced by the commercial North Indian sweets oozing ghee, kandhar appam is still the reigning Tamil sweet during the festive season.
In the food science laboratory of Women’s Christian College, I was taught and used to teach what is known as College Fudge, which is a traditional method of making cocoa fudge. It involved using candy thermometers to judge the stage of the sugar syrup and the cooling of the fudge. After removing from heat, the fudge would be cooled to 40° C and then beaten – a long and cumbersome process, and very difficult to judge the endpoint. Most of the time, it ended in a semi-solid or crumbling fudge. Though I had gained experience in making fudge myself, most students invariably made some error or the other when my back was turned 🙂 After I retired I had more time to experiment, and I arrived at this method, which does not need a thermometer to judge the stage or cooling, and I also ironed out many of the small errors that are likely to crop up when making fudge.
Thuvaram is a kind of a fry or poriyal which is popular in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. There are 2 varieties of thuvaram: one uses the vegetable and very few seasonings; the other includes a small amount of red gram dhal and coconut ground with garlic and cumin seeds. Pudalankai (Podalankai/Podalangai) or snake gourd is suitable for the first type. Later on I’ll be posting the second variety also.
The Northeast monsoon is expected to commence towards the end of October. That means there will be days when one will not be able to set out shopping. My mother used to make vattral of vegetables (sun dried at home) and also stock dried fish as even my father would not be at home to go shopping. My mother would make this Karuvadu Kuzhambu when it was raining heavily outside and serve it with Urullaikizhangu Pittu (and with white rice).
The vegetarians of Thirunelveli prepare this Ennai Kai Kuzhambu as a speciality dish. The name Ennai Kai is derived from Ennai Kathirikai because the same masala is used. The flavour is very grand and delicious compared to Vendhaya Kuzhambu. It is served only with white rice, though the name may suggest being served with biriyani (biriyani goes better with Khatte Baingan or Sweet and Sour Brinjal Masala). I usually serve this with keerai kootu or Urullaikkizhangu Pittu.
The yam that is commonly available in the markets here in Chennai is Elephant Yam, cut into large chunks. Yam is sliced into thin pieces and made into chips in most households. My mother also used to make that, but I used to dislike it 🙂 It did teach me that yam could be diced and fried, and I developed my own, simple yam fry that is easy to make. I am sure there are several recipes with various spice combinations available, but mine uses the minimum of spices for a mild flavour.