I first had Birinji Rice when my family moved to Chennai in 1957. It was a vegetarian delicacy served at weddings instead of mutton biriyani. Though my family felt disappointed at the lack of meat, I loved its taste, and I used to pester my mother to make it but she didn’t know how – which is not surprising as the key ingredient, kalpasi, was not known in Thirunelveli at that time. Fast forward 63 years, and I finally made my own version which matches the flavour of the birinji rice I used to enjoy so much at Christian weddings. This also makes part of a nice feast at any occasion where meat side dishes are served. It can also be used for a purely vegan/vegetarian feast along with Vegetable Kuruma and Sweet and Sour Brinjal Masala.
In Tamil cooking, potatoes are fried in large chunks and used in Pulavs and biriyanis. I wanted to make a rice dish that was different from the traditional cuisine. I came up with this Double-Fried-Potato Fried Rice which gives a lovely contrast of crunchy potatoes with the soft texture of rice. My fried rice includes spices used by the Chinese, and therefore it is very mild. I served this along with Murgh Makkanwali, and it was a smash hit! Though the double-frying takes a bit more time, it is very easy to make and the results are worth it 🙂
After the internet developed so much, buying fish has become easier these days. Fish vendors either call you or message you on your preferences, and deliver the fish all cleaned and ready to cook. I got some lovely prawns recently. I didn’t have the time to grind the masalas, and I created this very simple and easy to prepare prawn fried rice. I used an extra amount of water to cook the prawns so that I will have sufficient stock to cook the rice. This enhanced the flavour of the fried rice, and we just couldn’t stop eating it.
Ireland is famous for Coddle (amongst many other things like leprechauns). There are many versions of this dish as it is made from leftovers, but the main ingredients are bacon, sausages, and potatoes. It makes a very good 1-pot meal. We love sausages in my family, and I was very keen to try this easy-to-make sausage ‘curry’ :D. I found a recipe in Best of Ireland and modified the method of cooking to suit the Indian kitchen. I follow the book’s suggestion and usually serve this with Irish Soda Bread.
This recipe was a Christmas treat in my family when I was growing up in Thirunelveli, but my mother did not make it on Christmas as there was already so much work to be done. Instead she would make it between Christmas and New Year. I simplified this traditional recipe a lot, allowing me to easily make it on Christmas Day as the main dish in the feast. This is traditionally served with the hot and sweet Inji Thuvaiyal (recipe below) and Thayir Pachadi.
January is the month when good quality green peas are available, and this is the time to relish recipes using them. I’ve previously posted the recipe for an Easy Peas Pulav. This version contains ground cashew nuts and powdered spices to give a rich but mild flavour which goes well with the winter season.
In Tamil Nadu, February is when high quality fresh green peas are available. It gives me great pleasure to shell them and to see the lovely green peas inside and, of course, cook them too! This Peas Pulav is a very simple, easy to make preparation, but it can hold pride of place in any feast.