Way back in 1982, I asked my students to plan and prepare a South Indian meal. One of my Tamil Muslim students presented this speciality dish of her family which, despite being Tamil, she referred to by its Hindi name Khatte Baingan (Khatte – sour; Baingan – Brinjal). I was captivated by its flavour and the ease with which she prepared it. It goes amazingly well with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian biriyanis and pulavs.
Urullaikizhangu Pittu/Puttu is a favourite side dish in my family, especially when it is served along with Vendhaya Kuzhambu. The mild flavour of the pittu and the strong flavour of the kuzhambu complement each other so delightfully that when I announce lunch or dinner people come hurrying to the table.
I always drooled over the jam cookies filling the old-fashioned glass jars on bakery shelves. The crunch of the crisp cookies with the sharp taste and sticky texture of jam used to fascinate me. My daughter and I came across several recipes using jam on cookies, but none of them matched the traditional ones, so my daughter developed this recipe. It is absolutely delicious. This cookie is even crisper than the store-bought cookies.
The inspiration for this recipe came from one of my students who was presenting a lecture demonstration on a diet for diabetics using bitter gourd. Bitter gourd is popularly known to be good for diabetes (it isn’t!) which is why she used it, but she sprinkled sugar all over it! I pointed out that this would not be suitable for diabetics to which she responded cheerfully that bitter gourd by itself is, well, bitter, and the sugar would make it palatable. I had to lower her marks as she had missed the point totally, but I came up with an interesting idea for a Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd Curry.
The unique flavour of prawns lends itself to be combined with different kinds of vegetables. I have already posted a few such recipes (Prawn and Colocasia Curry, Prawn and Cabbage Curry, Prawn and Snake Gourd Poriyal). Another advantage in combining prawns with vegetables is that it has no skin or bones, and the flavour does not vary with the type of prawn. I created this recipe combining prawns with capsicum and a different combination of spices from the others.
Shark is a very strong-smelling fish and is therefore used primarily to make pittu and cutlets. In my family we use it only to make pittu, and we never make kuzhambu (gravy) using it. My mother preferred to use a small variety of shark known as pal sura, but it is not available round the year, and therefore I use the more regularly available larger variety. The pittu recipe I have used comes from my great-grandmother and is very different from the sura pittu prepared in Chennai.
This is another handy recipe for when you have more curds than you need for your daily consumption, and you are looking for ways to use it up. I have created a very easy-to-prepare chicken dish with very few spices (compared to what we usually use in Tamil Nadu for non-vegetarian cooking) and thick fresh curds.