Scotch Eggs are usually served at festive meals. The eggs are wrapped in cooked mince meat and fried after coating them with egg and bread crumbs. You can find any number of recipes in books and on YouTube. There are one or two recipes using potatoes instead of minced meat, but they are all traditional Indian ‘bonda’ flavoured eggs. Since Scotch Eggs are totally western, I decided to prepare a product that is very similar to western Scotch Eggs but using potatoes so that egg eating vegetarians can consume them as well.
Happy Easter in advance! I love to create festive specials using rice. When I was going through my collection of recipe books I came across a Mexican sausage rice recipe. Though the ingredients of the recipe did not appeal to me, the concept did. I studied sausage preparations, especially in a volume of the Encyclopaedia of Creative Cooking on pork. This dealt with various kinds of pork sausages, particularly combined with potatoes. Inspired by this I created a fried rice using sausages and potatoes, suited to the Indian market and kitchen. This was a tremendous success. My family loved it, and it was finished with not a grain of rice left. The flavour is very mild but rich in taste. It goes amazingly well with my Sweet Brinjal Pickle.
Summer is the best time to make brinjal dishes in Tamil Nadu as we get excellent kanmai kathirikkai (eggplant grown in dried water bodies). When I was a young girl in Palayamkottai, my mother used to make vattral as a way of preserving brinjal. I don’t have the facilities for that now in Chennai, so I decided to pickle the brinjal. There are several Tamil recipes for brinjal pickle that are very spicy. I wanted a pickle that was not spicy and could be served with a wide variety of dishes from any part of the world. I created this recipe by borrowing concepts from meat-based pickles, making this a very unusual vegetarian pickle that is also easy to make. The bottles empty in no time in my home 🙂
Thirunelveli meat curries are always extended with vegetables such as drumsticks, brinjals, broad beans and, of course, potatoes. This is a family recipe my mother used to make with mutton and radish; we used to love the strong flavour. Now I make this with beef instead of mutton as the rich flavour of beef blends better with radish. I have also simplified the recipe extensively, using a pressure cooker to cook all the ingredients in one shot. I use white radish because that is freely available in Chennai, but in Thirunelveli, my mother used pink radish. This curry is usually served with rice and chappatis.
Though colocasia is not a favourite, like potatoes, it is used in a variety of preparations, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. I call this dish varuval because it is deep fried, though it is not crisp and doesn’t crackle like chips. The carbohydrate in the colocasia is slimy in nature and also very soft. Usually, colocasia is sliced thin and deep fried, giving it a chewy texture. I have cut the colocasia only into 2 chunks, making the outside of the deep fried colocasia crisp and the inside soft. I have also created the masala by adding roasted and powdered sombu to the usual turmeric and chilli powder mix to add a bit of wallop to the flavour.
In 1984, we attended a Marathi wedding. In the wedding feast, a dish of brinjal and mochai (field beans) was served, and I was impressed by the taste and even asked for a second helping. My daughter, who was only 10 years old at that time, still remembers that incident. I tried to recreate the dish, but I could not get the exact flavour and consistency. A few months ago a Facebook friend, Vandarkuzhali Rajasegar, who is also an Assistant Professor in Foods and Nutrition, posted that she had made a dish of brinjal and white channa (whole Bengal gram/white chickpea). I immediately asked her for the recipe. Though she gave me a mere skeleton of the recipe, without amounts, I knew immediately that I had hit upon that 1984 dish. I standardised it using mochai, and I got the exact flavour after all these years 😀
In Tamil Nadu, the term Chenna Kunni refers to tiny shrimps. These are salted and dried in their shells. There are 2 varieties: small and very small. For this pickle I have chosen the very small variety so that it will blend easily with the other ingredients. I love to make sweet pickles, and I decided to try it with chenna kunni. The spice mix I have used is not the usual combination found in prawn pickles. Additionally, it gets its unique sweetness from the caramelisation of sugar, unlike other pickles where the sugar only adds a conventional sweetness to the taste. To my delight I arrived at a product which is new and most delectable.