I first heard of Latkes in the 90s, and I immediately wanted to make them as I was fascinated by the idea of potato pancakes. I was fortunate to come across the Cockney Cookbook a few years ago in a bookstore, and it had this recipe and an interesting description of accompaniments, so I grabbed it. I tried Latkes for breakfast recently and was it a great success – not a crumb was left behind! The book suggested waxy potatoes, but in India we are limited by whatever is available in the stores, which in my case were non-waxy potatoes. I have modified the recipe slightly by increasing the onion and pepper content to suit our palate. Though the book recommends serving Latkes as an accompaniment or appetiser, I used it as the main breakfast dish, and it can be even used in a packed lunch.
Today is Pongal (the Tamil harvest festival), and it is customary to celebrate with several rich vegetarian dishes. I made this Urulaikizhangu Paal Curry. I came across this recipe in my mother’s recipe collection. She never made this, but I was intrigued by the combination of potatoes and coconut milk with very few spices. It has an enchantingly mild flavour, and the fried cashew nuts added to the curry make it very festive and unique.
Urullaikizhangu Pittu/Puttu is a favourite side dish in my family, especially when it is served along with Vendhaya Kuzhambu. The mild flavour of the pittu and the strong flavour of the kuzhambu complement each other so delightfully that when I announce lunch or dinner people come hurrying to the table.
I came across this dish when it was presented in a cookery competition in the Women’s Christian College in the 1970s. I was fascinated by the colour, texture, and flavour of this methi with potato. However, the recipe won only a 3rd place in the contest. I asked my student Samyukta for the recipe, and she wrote it out for me immediately. The original recipe was very spicy as Samyukta is from Andhra Pradesh. I have toned down the spice to give it a more subtle flavour.
In South India meat is combined with carrots and potatoes to prepare kuruma (a kind of curry). I like to prepare beef with vegetables using different kinds of spices. I have seen many western recipes use thyme and basil, which I love, and therefore used them in this recipe. I usually serve this curry with Irish Soda Bread.
Pulavs are welcome anytime, anywhere, in any meal. When a packed lunch is open, the aroma is so inviting even a peckish eater will not leave a morsel. There are different recipes for potato pulavs depending on the combination of spices. The pulav that I have given here is very mild and at the same time the potatoes are crisp, and the onion and ginger are also fried golden crisp. This can be served with dhal dishes, or with meat curries.