In Tamil Nadu, February is when high quality fresh green peas are available. It gives me great pleasure to shell them and to see the lovely green peas inside and, of course, cook them too! This Peas Pulav is a very simple, easy to make preparation, but it can hold pride of place in any feast.
A beautiful and delicious meal to ring in the New Year, and is hopefully a sign that 2017 will be a beautiful year. The term Kola Urundai in Tamil means round balls, as if balls are any other shape! Brinji rice is rice cooked in milk and spices. This exotic and delicately flavoured dish is unique in that the meatballs are deep fried and then cooked along with the rice, not served as an accompaniment or as garnish. I have come across this recipe only in my family. I think it belongs to my great-grandmother who had settled in Thanjavur in the 1800s – perhaps she got it there. It is quite easy to make even though it is one dish composed of two preparations.
I came across an interesting combination of spices for chicken pulav in The Asian Cookbook. The recipe did not use any green spices such as green chillies, tomato, or coriander and mint leaves. It used spices that are usually available in the Indian kitchen, making it very easy to prepare as a special dish if you have unexpected guests.
This is a special preparation I came up with for Easter. I have always wanted to make a chicken and rice preparation without messing with grinding ginger and garlic, coconut, kus kus, and chopping mint, coriander, tomatoes, and chillies. These are not only time consuming but also very spicy. I wondered how it would be if I made a chicken rice without the strong flavour of ginger and garlic. Here is a recipe for the faint hearted (stomached) but with all the rich aroma of chicken and rice. The stock that is used to cook the rice is made when the chicken is cooked, saving further time and effort of obtaining stock. To make it festive, one can garnish it with fried cashew nuts and raisins but my family relish it as it is.
Pulavs are welcome anytime, anywhere, in any meal. When a packed lunch is open, the aroma is so inviting even a peckish eater will not leave a morsel. There are different recipes for potato pulavs depending on the combination of spices. The pulav that I have given here is very mild and at the same time the potatoes are crisp, and the onion and ginger are also fried golden crisp. This can be served with dhal dishes, or with meat curries.
(My city Chennai has been devastated by floods over the last few weeks. I didn’t have power for most of this week and all our infrastructure and supplies are still patchy. I was not sure I would be able to post this but things have improved slightly today. I was not sure I should post this with all the pain and misery around us, but decided to go ahead as everyone needs cheering up and good wholesome food is necessary for keeping spirits high – even mine. If you are in/from Chennai I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.)
The 12 Days of Christmas always started on the 12th of December for us, as that was my husband’s birthday. I used to cook special dishes every day and we all increased our girth – it wasn’t only the geese that were getting fat! This festive meal of Tomato Biriyani with Thayir Pachadi (onion raita) and Milagu Chops (pepper chops) was also one of our diet busters 🙂 These are three of the few recipes I have from my father’s mother, Kothai Devadas, who was an excellent cook but unfortunately lived far away in Erode so I rarely sampled her cooking.
My apologies if you were expecting something romantic based on the title 🙂 Last week saw extreme flooding in Chennai when two depressions, one in the Bay of Bengal and the other in the Arabian Sea, hit the Tamil Nadu coast. There was widespread power failure – the transformer in front of my home blew spectacularly under the deluge and left us without electricity for a long time. This presented me with 2 problems
- I had chicken in the freezer that had thawed out and would spoil if I didn’t cook it.
- I had no electricity to power my blender, which most Indian cooking depends on. Modern Indian homes also don’t have an ammi (grinding stone) to prepare the masala.
Standing in my candlelit kitchen, I came up with this simple recipe which does not require electricity to prepare the masala.