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 🙂
In Tamil cooking vinegar is hardly ever used. It may find its way into a few pickles, but even that is very rare. That is why this recipe is honoured with kaadi (vinegar) in the title. My uncle was in the Indian Air Force, and posted in the North during his service. He used to bring his family in summer to visit the relatives in Thirunelveli, and on the way, they used to make a halt in Chennai and stay a few days with us. In those days, the most convenient train was the Janata Express, which though called express, always came a day late. Therefore, for this journey, my aunt used to make chappatis and this vinegar fry which would keep easily for 2 days without refrigeration.
Happy Easter everyone! Here is a special meatball curry to help you break your Lenten fast (if you’ve been fasting). This is such an ancient recipe it might as well have come from the Biblical age. I have never seen my mother or my aunt prepare this. I discovered it during an archaeological dig into an old family recipe book with a pencilled inscription saying ‘Aatha’ which would indicate that it is from my great grandmother who was from Thanjavur. Any history beyond that is shrouded in the mists of time 🙂
Christmas is the time when people gorge themselves on high protein and high energy food from Advent to New Year. I made these mince packets so that they could be served to guests, and if you are in the habit of receiving carolers hot and spicy mince packets are sure to be welcome.
The Sivappu Kulambu is known for its beautiful red and enchantingly transparent gravy. Despite its deep red colour it can be made mildly flavoured based on the chilli powder used. I have used Kashmiri Chilli Powder which gives it a very subtle touch on your tongue. It goes amazingly well with chappatis and parattas.
Stuffing snake gourd with minced meat is a specialty in Tamil Nadu. There are various ways of cooking it. I found this recipe in a handwritten recipe book compiled by my mother. She called it Snake Gourd Cutlet. Snake gourd has a neutral taste like several other gourds (except the bitter gourd). Its shape lends itself to being stuffed with meat or even other vegetables, though I haven’t come across any preparation where snake gourd was stuffed with vegetables. It is a wonderful way of combining a vegetable with meat and the preparation itself is festive and is often served to guests.
(My city Chennai has been devastated by floods over the last few weeks. I didn’t have power for most of this week and all our infrastructure and supplies are still patchy. I was not sure I would be able to post this but things have improved slightly today. I was not sure I should post this with all the pain and misery around us, but decided to go ahead as everyone needs cheering up and good wholesome food is necessary for keeping spirits high – even mine. If you are in/from Chennai I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.)
The 12 Days of Christmas always started on the 12th of December for us, as that was my husband’s birthday. I used to cook special dishes every day and we all increased our girth – it wasn’t only the geese that were getting fat! This festive meal of Tomato Biriyani with Thayir Pachadi (onion raita) and Milagu Chops (pepper chops) was also one of our diet busters 🙂 These are three of the few recipes I have from my father’s mother, Kothai Devadas, who was an excellent cook but unfortunately lived far away in Erode so I rarely sampled her cooking.