During the coronavirus lockdown, people rush around buying vegetables which would keep for more than a week unrefrigerated. Yam and colocasia are in great demand (but not as much as potatoes). Yam is known as senai in Tamil Nadu and kolla means globe. Fried yam balls are made by a few families. Though my mother hadn’t bothered to write down the recipe for me, my husband’s aunt used to make these. I never liked it, perhaps because she wasn’t a great cook 🙂 During this lockdown I bought a lot of yam and then created my own version of Senai Kolla. My son usually doesn’t eat vegetables, but even he didn’t mind this 😀
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 🙂
Paruppu Usili, a dry dhal curry, is combined with finely chopped vegetables such as cluster beans, beans, etc. It is a special and auspicious vegetarian preparation which features in wedding feasts in Tamil Nadu and is the first to be served on the plantain leaf along with pickle and salt. There are different versions of usili, but I created this version with radish tops because of the many medicinal values attributed to them, some of which I myself have benefitted from. The traditional combination of red gram dhal and Bengal gram dhal results in a lot of flatulence and discomfort, so I have used only red gram dhal. I have also left out the curry leaves because the radish tops have a very pronounced flavour which clashes with the curry leaves. Usili can be packed as a side dish along with rice in a lunchbox (as it is dry), and I eat it as a snack because of its high satiety value combined with enticing flavour 🙂
I’m always tempted to prepare snacks in the non-stick kuzhippaniaram mould to reduce the consumption of oil. March is when we get good quality tomatoes in Chennai, especially the country variety – these are very sour and quite popular in Tamil cuisine. I decided to use pulsed tomato to prepare the batter. Needless to say the tomato flavour invites a lot of spice in the preparation, so I used chilli, garlic, mint, curry leaves, and onion (of course!). I chose maida and rice flour which give a mild/neutral flavour so that the tomato and the spices will not be smothered. This dish makes an excellent spicy snack that can be served without an accompaniment, and it can also be served as an intriguing side dish to the typical Tamil festive meal.
I am celebrating my 250th recipe on this blog! I wanted to follow Indian jubilee traditions by posting a recipe of a sweet but I then thought of creating something which is unique in using a minimal number of spices and with a short cooking time. I also wanted it to be low fat with minimum wasted nutrients. The result is this fried chicken which is mouth wateringly delicious, quick and easy to make, saves fuel, and is good for health – it sounds impossible, but it is true!
Thirunelveli Lime Rice is different from the typical Madras Lime Rice in that it is very mild, and fresh ingredients like onion, green chillies, and coriander leaves are used, and it is also served with Paruppu Thuvaiyal. The acid in the lime juice changes the anthocyanin pigment in the onion to a beautiful reddish pink colour and makes the texture crisp. This makes it a most attractive dish.
Though colocasia is not a favourite, like potatoes, it is used in a variety of preparations, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. I call this dish varuval because it is deep fried, though it is not crisp and doesn’t crackle like chips. The carbohydrate in the colocasia is slimy in nature and also very soft. Usually, colocasia is sliced thin and deep fried, giving it a chewy texture. I have cut the colocasia only into 2 chunks, making the outside of the deep fried colocasia crisp and the inside soft. I have also created the masala by adding roasted and powdered sombu to the usual turmeric and chilli powder mix to add a bit of wallop to the flavour.