Generally, South Indian dhal curry is always associated with Sambar, but in Thirunelveli (a southern district of Tamil Nadu) dhal curry or kuzhambu is made using ground coconut and fresh green spices like green chillies. There are several variations of this kuzhambu, but I am presenting the paruppu kuzhambu which has been made in my family for generations. We use red gram dhal, green chillies and coriander leaves, and select South Indian vegetables. It is always tempered with fenugreek seeds along with mustard seeds. We also use unripe mango to give sourness or tamarind extract when mango is not available. I have added fenugreek powder also to enhance the flavour.
In Tamil Nadu, especially in Thirunelveli, vegetables are added to extend meat preparations. This is a recipe, a mild curry, which is used repeatedly in my family. My mother had written it down giving suggestions for the type of vegetables which can be used. She had mentioned, apart from peas and cabbage, French beans, snake gourd, radish, and even cluster beans. Apart from peas and cabbage the rest are not very popular with my children 🙂 I therefore tweaked the recipe to accommodate their preferences and changed the procedure to suit the modern Indian kitchen, such as including pressure cooking.
Markandam means thoracic cavity in Tamil. It consists of the ribs and the muscles on them. My grandmother used to prepare this breastbone curry whenever we were recovering from an illness. She believed that the minerals from the bones helped to build immunity. That is why it is called ‘Rasam’ meaning extract. Because it is rasam, the gravy is quite thin in spite of the coconut added to it. It is my favourite mutton preparation, and I used to pester my mother to make it even when we were not ill. Having piping hot markandam rasam with piping hot rice in winter is absolutely divine 🙂
I have come across a wide variety of dishes from many states as students from all across India attended Women’s Christian College, Chennai. This is a dish from Andhra Pradesh. My student M.S. Vani prepared this dish in my dietetics lab session. I was very impressed by its nutritive value, and the dish was novel to me. I got the recipe from her and modified it by adding onion to improve the flavour. I also reworked the cooking method to cook the tomatoes with the onions and boiled the carrots to remove the raw flavour.
Pirattal in Tamil means stirring or turning. My mother called this recipe sadha meaning plain/ordinary/simple. It does live up to its name as only the coconut and ginger-garlic paste need grinding. She used only garlic, but I have substituted it with ginger-garlic paste to spice it up. This pirattal is so easy to prepare that even cooking noobs can try it 🙂
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.
I have been asked by several friends for a good Mour Kuzhambu recipe. Mour kuzhambu is a good way to use leftover curds and there are various ways in which mour kuzhambu can be made. I have given here the Thirunelveli mour kuzhambu my mother used to make. This is mild and slightly sour, the sourness depending on how the curds are set. My mour kuzhambu is not too sharp because the curds that I set at home is thick and not sour. I have come across spicy versions using ground green chillies but I use them whole. This is an all-season dish, as you can use different vegetables with the same gravy.