Doctors also can be good cooks 🙂 This recipe is from my ophthalmologist cousin Suriya, who specialises in low fat cooking. She served these cutlets when we had gone over for dinner, and we loved it. She was very happy to give the recipe. Her method used the entire chicken as she doesn’t get only the skinless, boneless breast. I have modified the recipe by using chicken breast and also cooked the chicken using my own recipe for chicken stock. In this way, I get the cooked chicken for the cutlet and the stock for other dishes.
In the Tamil movie Samayalkaran (Chef/Cook) a recently discharged soldier is not recognised by his family and is appointed as their cook. He surprises them with a preparation that is mistaken for mutton curry but is actually a yam curry. In Tamil cooking, yam is usually used to make chips or poriyal (fry), and I was therefore struck by the idea of a yam curry. I was determined to make one for myself and finally came up with this recipe in 2017, a full 20 years after I saw the movie on TV 🙂
This is March, and it is the beginning of summery spring in Tamil Nadu. The supply of all those lovely winter vegetables is dwindling. It is time to make this peas and cauliflower fry and say goodbye to the luscious fresh vegetables. This vegetable fry is a very common dish that appears on the menu in most Tamilian households. The vegetables are easy to clean, and there is no elaborate pre-preparation of spicy masalas. I have made only one change in the recipe. In Tamil cooking, black gram dhal and Bengal gram dhal are used in small amounts along with mustard for tempering. I personally feel that these dhals take away or mask the flavour of the vegetables, especially peas and cauliflower. So I do not use them. If you do not have cauliflower, you can use cabbage instead.
This is a very mild flavoured dish, and it can be served along with spicy gravies, such as Urundai Kari (Meatball Curry and Fry) and Urundaikkari Vellai Kuzhambu (Meatballs in White Gravy). It is also suitable for little children and the elderly as it is very bland. Continue reading
The typical vegetarian cutlet available in Tamil Nadu has a very firm outer surface with a very spicy mix inside, which I dislike. We used to make the traditional spicy type in the WCC cookery lab when I was a student, which is where I learnt the concept of using rice flour as a coating. I was convinced that I could make a better cutlet which wouldn’t assault my taste buds. I developed this recipe once I retired – better late than never 🙂 – to have a tasty yet mild flavour, with a thin crust to make it easy for children and elders to eat.
Winter is almost over, but we still get lovely fresh vegetables to make this dish. My mother never made vegetable kuruma, but I always remembered the kuruma we enjoyed when visiting relatives. I tried to reproduce what I had eaten before, but I made the mistake of trying to make it like a meat kuruma which was not well received in the family. I eventually figured out the magic technique – do not use curds, mint, strongly flavoured vegetables like knol-khol (kohlrabi), or strongly pigmented vegetables like beetroot.
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.
Pongal (the Tamil harvest festival) is just around the corner, and it is time to dive back into vegetarian cooking. The vazhaikkai (unripe banana) is regarded as a humble vegetable because it is available all through the year, and the cost doesn’t vary with the seasons. I like to fairy godmother with this vegetable and turn it into a Cinderella with exotic recipes like Vazhaikkai Cutlet. This kuruma is another of my creations, transforming the simple vazhaikkai into a festive special that can be served with Easy Peas Pulav, Potato Pulav, and even with Pooris!