January and February are the months when the markets in Tamil Nadu receive the freshest of the so-called English Vegetables. As a child I used to look forward to these months when we used to have peas and cauliflower very often in the menus. The peas are luscious and the cauliflower is so creamy white and crisp. In Palayamkottai (my hometown) Rich Peas Pulav and Muttai Cauliflower used to be prepared every week. My mother had a collection of recipes using these vegetables. One of the favourites was meat cooked along with peas, cauliflower, and, of course, potatoes that are always combined with meat.
Meat and Vegetable Fry
I always wanted to make a nourishing one-pot meal that could be prepared easily and provide a family with protein, energy, and vegetables. Potatoes and carrots complement the flavour of beef, and I developed this curry to use a minimum of spices and braised the beef to improve the flavour. I have also used celery salt in this recipe. Celery salt and braising are both unusual in Tamil cooking, but they give this dish an enticing aroma and mouth-watering flavour.
Kala’s Braised Beef Curry
Happy New Year everyone! I would like to kick off 2018 with a dish that is known all over the world. Tandoori chicken is a signature dish of Punjab but has become very popular in Tamil Nadu, especially in the cities, due to the increase in restaurants serving North Indian cuisine following the migration of North Indians to the South. Even road-side eateries advertise Tandoori cooking. The traditional Tandoor oven, which originated in West Asia, is a special device that none of us have at home in Tamil Nadu. I, therefore, looked for recipes using the regular Oven Toaster Grill (OTG) and found several methods. This recipe combines the best from many sources and my own experiments in making the perfect Tandoori Chicken 🙂
Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken garnished with Lime Wedge and Onion Rings
Turkey meat is only used at Christmastime in Tamil Nadu – we don’t have Thanksgiving here, we prefer to complain all the time 🙂 We can’t just walk into a store and buy it either, we have to place an order in advance. Despite these difficulties, it is increasingly popular in Christmas biriyani, in place of the usual mutton or chicken. The flavour of turkey is so very different that the usual combination of spices and cooking method does not work. I have created this recipe keeping the spices to a minimum compared to the usual biriyanis and also used the bones to prepare stock to add richness. The turkey meat resembles mutton closely in texture, and therefore I have pressure cooked the meat to give a tender product.
Kala’s Vaankozhi (Turkey) Biriyani
At Christmas we see Christians thronging meat shops with money saved through the year for their annual Christmas feast. I once witnessed a family buying such a variety of meat at one go that I kept speaking about it for days, much to the amused exasperation of my family! Sausages are particularly popular during this season. They are usually only fried, but I wanted to try something different that people can serve when they celebrate with guests or family.
Toad in Cups for Christmas
With the monsoon still continuing, cooking with dried legumes becomes very useful. Those in Chennai are very familiar with dry peas sundal (pattani sundal) that is sold on the beach. Here you can use the same dry peas to make a curry and serve with chappati or bread. A steaming hot and fragrant curry will cheer people of all ages when it is raining heavily outside.
Dry Peas Curry
We have a joke about Chennai rain: January-October – water scarcity; November & December – water scares city :). On some days we are unable to shop due to flooding. It is wise to stock different kinds of legumes to make curries when vegetables are not available. I created this Dry Butter Beans Curry as it is easy to prepare, can be served with chappati or rice, and has an interesting flavour.
Kala’s Dry Butter Beans Curry