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.
I was very fond of vendaikai/lady’s finger because I was told that I would excel in mathematics if I ate it. Liars! I used to ask my mother to prepare vendaikai pachadi because I liked the taste of it. My mother used to make vendaikai pachadi with tamarind and coconut. I discovered that if I cooked it with unripe mango instead of tamarind for the sour taste and left out the coconut from the recipe, I arrived at the most delicious salad (fried) of lady’s finger and mango.
I came across this dish when it was presented in a cookery competition in the Women’s Christian College in the 1970s. I was fascinated by the colour, texture, and flavour of this methi with potato. However, the recipe won only a 3rd place in the contest. I asked my student Samyukta for the recipe, and she wrote it out for me immediately. The original recipe was very spicy as Samyukta is from Andhra Pradesh. I have toned down the spice to give it a more subtle flavour.
Till March, southern India gets vegetables of very high quality. This is the best time to indulge in cooking exotic preparations. I found lovely, juicy, and tender carrots in the market, and as soon as I saw them I said ‘Carrot Halwa!’
I developed this chicken and capsicum curry to dish up a non-vegetarian preparation in a hurry. It is very mild and can be served to both children and the elderly, or anyone who is on a bland diet. Because it is not very spicy it goes better with fried rice or noodles rather than bread or chapathi.
Boiled eggs served as such do not contribute much flavour to the meal. Earlier in my blog I have given the recipe for Kallu Kadai Muttai using boiled eggs. This egg masala is a recipe I came across in Fathima Shahjahan’s Chicken Specials. This uses a large amount of tomatoes and onions, which gives body to the masala. Moreover, the egg halves on the tomato base in the masala make a very attractive display.
When mangoes are in season we usually have a surplus that doesn’t keep for very long. We need to find ways to use them in various dishes. My mother used to prepare this salad for us because it didn’t require much cooking and we used to relish it with thayir saadham (curd rice).