Keerai Poriyal (Greens Fry)

We usually cook our greens in India – we do not make salads with them. The south has a variety of greens: Amaranth, Drumstick, Agathi, Ponnanganni, and of course the Palak, which we call Pasalai Keerai. We use all these greens in Tamil Nadu to make poriyal (fry). I have chosen greens from the Amaranth family because they are easily available in all the stores or brought to your doorstep by street vendors. I used to be woken up at 5.30 in the morning by the clarion call ‘Keeraiiiii!’ from an enthusiastic vendor.

Keerai Poriyal - Kalas Kalai

Keerai Poriyal

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Thirunelveli Keerai Chaarru (Greens Soup-Curry)

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.

thirunelveli keerai chaarru - kalas kalai

Thirunelveli Keerai Chaarru

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Chicken Cutlet

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.

Chicken Cutlet - Kalas Kalai

Chicken Cutlet

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Peas and Cauliflower Fry

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.

peas-and-cauliflower-fry-kalas-kalai

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

Kala’s Easy Vegetable Kuruma – For Working Women

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.

Kalas Easy Vegetable Kuruma - Kalas Kalai

Kala’s Easy Vegetable Kuruma

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Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken

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 1 - Kalas Kalai

Oven-Baked Tandoori Chicken garnished with Lime Wedge and Onion Rings

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Carrot Tomato Curry

I have come across a wide variety of dishes from many states as students from all across India attended Women’s Christian College, Chennai. This is a dish from Andhra Pradesh. My student M.S. Vani prepared this dish in my dietetics lab session. I was very impressed by its nutritive value, and the dish was novel to me. I got the recipe from her and modified it by adding onion to improve the flavour. I also reworked the cooking method to cook the tomatoes with the onions and boiled the carrots to remove the raw flavour.

Carrot Tomato Curry - Kalas Kalai

Carrot Tomato Curry

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