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 🙂
Meen Asaadhu is a recipe which my mother had copied from her grandmother’s book but she never prepared. I was always curious about it and tried it only when I was able to get skinless and boneless fish cubes (when I moved near the sea 10 years ago). My great-grandmother had recommended either pomfret or barracuda, but you can use other any other marine fish which could be prepared into cubes. I prefer to use black pomfret.
I don’t believe Ravai Idly is native to Tamil Nadu, though Tamil Nadu is famous for its rice idlies. I have no recollection of my mother ever making ravai idlies. I came across ravai idlies only in cookery books. This dish uses curds to prepare the batter, and as I used to rack my brains for ways to utilise the leftover curds at home, I decided to give this a try. I was very pleased with the flavour of the idlies and the substantial breakfast they made.
Chicken à la King seems to have been a favourite of the British Raj in India, perhaps because all the ingredients were available here, and the flavour, though rich, is bland. I have come across various recipes using egg yolk, wine, etc., but adding wine somehow gives a fermented flavour, which we Indians regard as the beginning of spoilage. Therefore, I searched for a recipe which was simple and, at the same time, wholesome. I found one in Children’s Party Cooking. Of course I had to tweak the recipe to suit the Indian palate and the ingredients available.
The unique flavour of prawns lends itself to be combined with different kinds of vegetables. I have already posted a few such recipes (Prawn and Colocasia Curry, Prawn and Cabbage Curry, Prawn and Snake Gourd Poriyal). Another advantage in combining prawns with vegetables is that it has no skin or bones, and the flavour does not vary with the type of prawn. I created this recipe combining prawns with capsicum and a different combination of spices from the others.
Shark is a very strong-smelling fish and is therefore used primarily to make pittu and cutlets. In my family we use it only to make pittu, and we never make kuzhambu (gravy) using it. My mother preferred to use a small variety of shark known as pal sura, but it is not available round the year, and therefore I use the more regularly available larger variety. The pittu recipe I have used comes from my great-grandmother and is very different from the sura pittu prepared in Chennai.