I love to combine prawns with vegetables, maybe because in my family prawns were never combined with other vegetables. I have posted several recipes combining prawns with vegetables (Prawn and Bitter Gourd Fry, Prawn and Ridge Gourd Curry, Prawn and Colocasia Curry, Prawn and Snake Gourd Fry, and many more). Okra is not liked by children, mainly because of its slimy texture when it comes in contact with water. I have avoided this in this preparation. The Mexican Spice Mix was suggested by my daughter. I have modified it to suit the Indian palate, and also deleted garlic powder to improve shelf life and because Indians are used to consuming fresh garlic.
Though Elephant Yam is available throughout the year and is not too expensive, it is not used extensively in Tamil cooking. I have already posted Yam Fry and Yam Curry. I decided to be more adventurous and created this snack in which cooked yam is rolled in spiced flour, dipped in egg, and deep fried. It turned out to be a novel and very tasty snack, which can be used as a starter or side dish. I have not used a typical South Indian spice mix and have ventured into using Black Salt which North Indians are fond of using. My daughter and I make it often and relish it.
Manathakkali (Solanum nigrum) greens are known for their medicinal properties due to their high Riboflavin content. Apart from the leaves, the unripe berries are also used for cooking, but only in their dried form or vattral. The dried berries are now commercially available, and I was lucky to get some. They are fried and used in a very strongly flavoured tamarind curry. We add a large amount of coconut ground to a fine paste to reduce the bitterness of the berries. The kuzhambu is served with plain rice and Urullaikizhangu Pittu.
As my ancestors were originally vegetarians, our meat dishes were very limited – we only had 2 chicken recipes! This is a version of a chicken fry made by my grandmother that I heavily modified. Her masala powder was milder, and only few curry leaves were used in the powder. Being a nutritionist, I saw the potential of using a large amount of curry leaves to increase the nutritive value of the dish, and thus escalated the curry leaf content to half a cup, and to my delight this easy to make product was a very big hit with my family.
I have always been fascinated by the idea of Caramel Chicken. I came across both English and Tamil recipes but I found them to be impractical. I have combined and modified the recipes to make it easier to prepare and reduce wastage. I decided to use country tomatoes instead of the hybrid variety for their acidic flavour. The caramel chicken goes very well with Dinner Rolls, fried rices, and pulavs.
When I flip through my collection of cookery books, if a photograph of some preparation fascinates me I try to make an Indian dish to suit our palate and kitchen. I came across a photograph of sausages and potatoes, beautifully presented but in a curry form – curry meaning western style bland curry. Therefore I decided to combine sausage and potatoes in what the Tamilians call a poriyal, meaning fry. The cocktail sausages available in India are quite spicy; therefore I decided to keep the add-on spices to a minimum. We usually get chicken sausages, but if you’re lucky you might find pork sausages in the stores. I have used chicken sausages to prepare this dish, but you can also use pork sausages.
Dill (Sombu Keerai) is only occasionally available in stores in Chennai, and almost never in summer. When it is available, though, we get it in large bundles, and we have to think of what all we can make using dill. I have previously made Vegetarian Scotch Eggs using dill, and now I am also including dill in Potato Cutlets, giving them an unusual flavour for a Tamil cutlet. I serve it as a side dish, and there will be no leftovers – guaranteed 😀