Keerai Chaarru means greens extract, but it is a misnomer as the juice of the greens is not extracted. It is a simple soup-like curry using very few ingredients – for an Indian recipe 🙂 This is an authentic Thirunelveli preparation. My students, friends, and acquaintances have not heard of this dish at all. Though it is a very simple recipe, one can go wrong in the consistency and sourness as I did when I made it first. I had watched my mother make it but somehow hadn’t registered the proportion of the ingredients. I have now standardised the recipe and get it right every time with this method.
A long time ago, perhaps in my first year of B.Sc, I had an essay by Winston Churchill on his school life where he mentioned his dislike for dumplings. This made me very curious to know what dumplings were and why they engender such hatred. I went through many British and Australian cookbooks and discovered that dumplings seemed inoffensive and harmless. I tried a few recipes and my family loved them – maybe in Churchill’s school days, British schools didn’t even add pepper to the dumplings! The popularity of dumplings at home made me create my own recipe for Dumplings in Chicken Stew.
Thuvaram is a kind of a fry or poriyal which is popular in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. There are 2 varieties of thuvaram: one uses the vegetable and very few seasonings; the other includes a small amount of red gram dhal and coconut ground with garlic and cumin seeds. Pudalankai (Podalankai/Podalangai) or snake gourd is suitable for the first type. Later on I’ll be posting the second variety also.
The yam that is commonly available in the markets here in Chennai is Elephant Yam, cut into large chunks. Yam is sliced into thin pieces and made into chips in most households. My mother also used to make that, but I used to dislike it 🙂 It did teach me that yam could be diced and fried, and I developed my own, simple yam fry that is easy to make. I am sure there are several recipes with various spice combinations available, but mine uses the minimum of spices for a mild flavour.
This dish is a family specialty. A Keerai Kadaiyal is usually made with mashed greens tempered with mustard, red chillies, and asafoetida fried in oil. I feel that it takes away the flavour of the greens compared to this recipe. The onion, garlic, and green chillies boiled with the greens not only bring out the flavour of the greens but also enhance the taste of the kadaiyal. It is always served with fish curries like Live Viraal Meen Kuzhambu, Ayirai Meen Kuzhambu, and Unripe Mango and Katla Curry.
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 🙂