With Ramzan coming in a couple of days, I thought it would be appropriate to post this Tamil Muslim Mutton Kuruma. When it comes to non-vegetarian cooking, especially mutton, the best dishes can usually be found in Tamil Muslim cooking. They have their unique flavour, and Tamil Muslim cooks are hired to prepare meat dishes even for non-Muslim celebrations. I had previously posted my modified versions of a few of Fathima Shajahan’s recipes. This dish is also from her A-1 Muslim Samayal book. I have taken the liberty of modifying certain steps to make cooking easier. This is a flavourful dish which looks as rich as it tastes and is a wonderful complement to my Birinji Rice.
I first had Birinji Rice when my family moved to Chennai in 1957. It was a vegetarian delicacy served at weddings instead of mutton biriyani. Though my family felt disappointed at the lack of meat, I loved its taste, and I used to pester my mother to make it but she didn’t know how – which is not surprising as the key ingredient, kalpasi, was not known in Thirunelveli at that time. Fast forward 63 years, and I finally made my own version which matches the flavour of the birinji rice I used to enjoy so much at Christian weddings. This also makes part of a nice feast at any occasion where meat side dishes are served. It can also be used for a purely vegan/vegetarian feast along with Vegetable Kuruma and Sweet and Sour Brinjal Masala.
During the coronavirus lockdown, people rush around buying vegetables which would keep for more than a week unrefrigerated. Yam and colocasia are in great demand (but not as much as potatoes). Yam is known as senai in Tamil Nadu and kolla means globe. Fried yam balls are made by a few families. Though my mother hadn’t bothered to write down the recipe for me, my husband’s aunt used to make these. I never liked it, perhaps because she wasn’t a great cook 🙂 During this lockdown I bought a lot of yam and then created my own version of Senai Kolla. My son usually doesn’t eat vegetables, but even he didn’t mind this 😀
During the lockdown, we are forced to stock up on vegetables that can be stored for some time, such as colocasia. That doesn’t mean we have to make only the typical colocasia preparations. I’d previously given recipes for Colocasia Fry and Bonda. I have now come up with this Colocasia Bajji recipe as people are longing for the fried delicacies they used to enjoy before the lockdown. Since the colocasia has a slight sweetish taste, I have used coriander and cumin powder in the batter to complement the flavour. The crisp coating and the soft interior make it a very interesting and scrumptious snack.
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.
In Tamil cooking, potatoes are fried in large chunks and used in Pulavs and biriyanis. I wanted to make a rice dish that was different from the traditional cuisine. I came up with this Double-Fried-Potato Fried Rice which gives a lovely contrast of crunchy potatoes with the soft texture of rice. My fried rice includes spices used by the Chinese, and therefore it is very mild. I served this along with Murgh Makkanwali, and it was a smash hit! Though the double-frying takes a bit more time, it is very easy to make and the results are worth it 🙂
I first enjoyed these Vengaya Pakodas in Madurai in 1955, where there were known as Udhiri Pakodas (Crumbly Pakodas). We were served these when we visited my aunt Cynthia on weekends, which she bought from a nearby hotel. When we moved to Chennai, the Udhiri Pakoda had metamorphosed into Onion Pakoda and tasted even better. I tried for decades to replicate the recipe and finally arrived at my own method which gave the same flavour.