Though Elephant Yam is available throughout the year and is not too expensive, it is not used extensively in Tamil cooking. I have already posted Yam Fry and Yam Curry. I decided to be more adventurous and created this snack in which cooked yam is rolled in spiced flour, dipped in egg, and deep fried. It turned out to be a novel and very tasty snack, which can be used as a starter or side dish. I have not used a typical South Indian spice mix and have ventured into using Black Salt which North Indians are fond of using. My daughter and I make it often and relish it.
After the internet developed so much, buying fish has become easier these days. Fish vendors either call you or message you on your preferences, and deliver the fish all cleaned and ready to cook. I got some lovely prawns recently. I didn’t have the time to grind the masalas, and I created this very simple and easy to prepare prawn fried rice. I used an extra amount of water to cook the prawns so that I will have sufficient stock to cook the rice. This enhanced the flavour of the fried rice, and we just couldn’t stop eating it.
I have always been fascinated by the idea of Caramel Chicken. I came across both English and Tamil recipes but I found them to be impractical. I have combined and modified the recipes to make it easier to prepare and reduce wastage. I decided to use country tomatoes instead of the hybrid variety for their acidic flavour. The caramel chicken goes very well with Dinner Rolls, fried rices, and pulavs.
Baking your own bread or rolls is a huge challenge in India, mainly because we are not used to baking in our homes and prefer to buy cakes and breads from bakeries. Most Indian homes only have a microwave oven. My first experience with baking bread was as a college student way back in 1966, where my attempt sat in the bowl like a stone. I never had the confidence to try after that, but now that my daughter is showing a lot of interest in bread making we have been experimenting with baking different types of bread. My daughter found this recipe on YouTube which we then modified slightly to suit the Indian kitchen.
Dill (Sombu Keerai) is only occasionally available in stores in Chennai, and almost never in summer. When it is available, though, we get it in large bundles, and we have to think of what all we can make using dill. I have previously made Vegetarian Scotch Eggs using dill, and now I am also including dill in Potato Cutlets, giving them an unusual flavour for a Tamil cutlet. I serve it as a side dish, and there will be no leftovers – guaranteed 😀
In Thirunelveli, we make two kinds of curries using prawn/fish and coconut milk. I have already posted the recipe for Meen Asadhu using marine fish. Moli uses totally different kinds of spices for seasoning and does not include coriander powder. To me, both taste absolutely divine :), but I prefer moli for prawns. This is a quick and easy preparation if you are using reconstituted coconut milk and also purchase already shelled and deveined prawns. I serve this with either plain rice or chappatis.
Coorg cuisine is famous for pork dishes. I have already posted Chillikana Pandi. A friend from Coorg told me that pork dishes are a must in their wedding feasts. This curry uses a variety of dry and green spices, and also kokum (Garcinia indica), which is a type of tamarind substitute. Kokum has a smoky flavour which usually appeals to those from the West Coast of India, and is not part of Tamil cooking. I had tasted kokum in some fish curries which my colleagues brought, and I was intrigued by the flavour, though my family didn’t really care for it. Pork blends very well with the flavour of kokum, and we all love it.
Scotch Eggs are usually served at festive meals. The eggs are wrapped in cooked mince meat and fried after coating them with egg and bread crumbs. You can find any number of recipes in books and on YouTube. There are one or two recipes using potatoes instead of minced meat, but they are all traditional Indian ‘bonda’ flavoured eggs. Since Scotch Eggs are totally western, I decided to prepare a product that is very similar to western Scotch Eggs but using potatoes so that egg eating vegetarians can consume them as well.
In Tamil Nadu, the term Chenna Kunni refers to tiny shrimps. These are salted and dried in their shells. There are 2 varieties: small and very small. For this pickle I have chosen the very small variety so that it will blend easily with the other ingredients. I love to make sweet pickles, and I decided to try it with chenna kunni. The spice mix I have used is not the usual combination found in prawn pickles. Additionally, it gets its unique sweetness from the caramelisation of sugar, unlike other pickles where the sugar only adds a conventional sweetness to the taste. To my delight I arrived at a product which is new and most delectable.
When I was leafing through the book Cuisine from Coorg, I was intrigued to see a different combination of spices in the making of Yarchi Pulav (yarchi means meat in Coorg). The method of making this pulav was in the traditional way of straining the rice when three-fourths cooked, then adding to the gravy for further cooking. I feel that this method is very tedious especially when you do not have a very large kitchen. Therefore I changed the cooking method to boiling the gravy and water, and then adding the rice to it. In this way, you shorten the cooking time and avoid a mess in the kitchen. I have used spice powders because they are easily available now. I have also introduced curds to marinate the meat to tenderise it. This has made this recipe much easier to prepare.