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.
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.
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.
In the early ’80s, I had a Mangalorean student called Sudha who then managed the WCC Canteen for some time, when she introduced this dish on the menu. I was fascinated by its unusual combination of ingredients and flavour that was unique to Tamil taste buds. This is her recipe, which I’ve modified to suit the modern Indian kitchen and shorten the cooking time.
We Tamilians love our drumstick trees, and in villages every house would have one. In Chennai, however, only those with large plots of land have them and the rest of us have to buy drumstick leaves from stores. Drumstick leaves are used to make poriyal (fry). They are not usually combined with other vegetables, but non-vegetarians cook these with either fresh or dry prawns (karuvadu).
Happy Deepavalli everyone! In Tamil, Thirattuppaal means milk condensed to a semi-solid consistency. This is a speciality of Tamil Nadu, but it is curiously, nowadays, neither made at home nor found in shops, maybe because the North Indian milk sweets have become very popular. I chose this as a Deepavalli special as it can be made at home quite easily – but not quickly 🙂 – instead of buying sweets from stores, which is now the norm but also very expensive.
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 🙂