Though Easter follows 40 days of vegetarianism, Tamil people don’t have a great spread for the festival. I wanted to offer an alternative to the traditional chicken or mutton biriyani, and I chose this Bacon and Sausage Pulav as it is the same meat-and-rice type of dish, but is also very different and very mild flavoured. This is a scrumptious one-dish meal, and it only needs ketchup as an accompaniment if required.
Christmas is the season when everyone eats heartily irrespective of their religion, especially rich frosted cakes. By the time the New Year approaches their digestive discomfort makes them regret some of their menu. This Ginger Loaf Cake allows them to enjoy the season of cakes and relieve their distress 🙂 I came across this recipe in Cakes and Cake Decorating and All-Colour Cookbook – the same recipe with the same photograph! Self-raising flour is not easily available here, and what is available here is very bitter, so I have substituted it with maida and baking powder. I don’t like the taste of ginger powder and have used fresh ginger extract instead.
Today is Advent Sunday. It not only welcomes the birth of Christ but also the start of the festive feasting. I found this recipe for Viennese shortbread cookies in the All Colour Cookbook. When I tried this in my kitchen, I found that they were very light and crisp cookies, so easy to bite into and chew. The orange flavour from the rind was tantalizing, and the sprinkling of icing sugar made it a little sweeter. I dispensed with the butter cream filling to make it less calorific. The original was piped out through a flower nozzle but I rolled out the dough and used cookie cutters. My method yields around 50 cookies.
January is the harvest time in Tamil Nadu. Pongal is the harvest festival and is the most important festival for Tamilians. It is celebrated on the first of the Tamil month Thai, which usually falls on January 14th or 15th. Pongal is the name of the dish made to celebrate the harvest and gets its name from the boiling over of the rice. Traditionally it is cooked in the front yard of the house on firewood, in a new mud pot. I modified the traditional recipe for those who do not have front yards, firewood, or mud pots.
Back in the day, a Christian wedding in Thirunelveli would last 3 days: the day before the ceremony, the day of the ceremony, and the day after the ceremony. Only vegetarian food was served on the first two days, with meat being reserved for the day after the ceremony. Guests sat on jamakkalams (Tamil Nadu cotton carpets) laid on the floor, and the vegetarian feast was served on a plantain leaf. Generally, the salt is always served first, and a tablespoon of this dhal is served after it. The other vegetables, pickles, appalams, etc., are served only after these two. When sambar is served for the rice, this dhal is again served in large quantities. The first tablespoon of dhal is served as a nod to its significance as an important source of protein in a vegetarian diet, and is therefore served immediately after salt even though its actual role in the meal comes later.
When my daughter’s doctor prescribed very bland food (for an Indian) as part of her treatment for a gastric condition, I looked around for a preparation that would be easy to digest and provide very good quality protein. I found that she was able to tolerate cauliflower, eggs, and cheese. I also love cauliflower and cheese and found recipes for the elaborate cauliflower au gratin, but I wanted something simpler. The Complete Australian Cookbook in my personal library gave me a recipe for cauliflower and cheese. I modified the recipe using some features from the au gratin and made the measurements of the ingredients easier. I also omitted the heating of the cheese with the white sauce because of the stringy texture it gives. Instead I sprinkled the cheese on top, and it not only gave a beautiful colour, but also a delicious aroma while baking.