Happy Easter in advance! I love to create festive specials using rice. When I was going through my collection of recipe books I came across a Mexican sausage rice recipe. Though the ingredients of the recipe did not appeal to me, the concept did. I studied sausage preparations, especially in a volume of the Encyclopaedia of Creative Cooking on pork. This dealt with various kinds of pork sausages, particularly combined with potatoes. Inspired by this I created a fried rice using sausages and potatoes, suited to the Indian market and kitchen. This was a tremendous success. My family loved it, and it was finished with not a grain of rice left. The flavour is very mild but rich in taste. It goes amazingly well with my Sweet Brinjal Pickle.
Pooris are usually served with the potato masala that is used in Masala Dosai. In my family, hailing from Thirunelveli, the potato masala we serve is completely different, and spicier, than the usual masala. We include tomatoes and chilli powder, which transforms the flavour. We serve this potato masala with chappatis too.
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.