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.
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.
The term ‘Vendhaya Kuzhambu’ is actually a misnomer. Vendhayam is fenugreek. The amount of fenugreek used in this curry is very very small, but in Thirunelveli (where I’m from) this garlic and shallot curry is always referred to as vendhaya kuzhambu. It is usually served with plain boiled rice, but I particularly enjoy it with idlys :).
January 14th is the birth of the Tamil month of Thai, and in Tamil Nadu, it is also Pongal, the harvest festival. It is a grand celebration with several vegetarian dishes marking nature’s bounty. Aviyal is a vegetable curry that is served for lunch. There are several versions of aviyal, and I am presenting here the aviyal made in Palayamkottai, Thirunelveli District. It uses many of the vegetables indigenous to Thirunelveli.