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!
Freshwater fish dishes are relished only in interior Tamil Nadu. People in Chennai are not familiar with the taste of these fish and sometimes even mock those who consume it. But now that even marine fish are cultivated in freshwater lakes and can be bought online, the lake pomfret costs Rs. 300/kg while marine pomfret costs Rs. 800/kg! Therefore I have been developing recipes using freshwater fish. In this recipe I have combined the strong smelling radish with the mild flavoured lake pomfret and also avoided using chilli powder. Instead I have used mustard powder to give it a slight bite. This mild fish curry is a great success in my house – not with my fish hating son of course 🙂 It goes very well with chappatis, unlike the traditional fish curries.
When people think of combining vegetables and dhal in Tamil cooking, they primarily think of Aviyal. There is another dish, Saalna that is a complete contrast to aviyal both in the type of vegetables and spices used. Saalna does not use strong flavoured vegetables like drumsticks and cluster beans. It also uses cloves and cinnamon, instead of cumin and garlic like aviyal. It may not be as famous as aviyal, but is no less delicious. It is an ideal dish to celebrate the harvest and can be served with Venn Pongal.
The coolest month of the year for Tamilians is January, and we are very happy to get the freshest of vegetables during this period. This concept of combining prawns with vegetables is new to my family because we made only two prawn dishes – Fry and Moli. My friend Jacintha, who is a Burmese repatriate, gave me this recipe though she said it isn’t a Burmese recipe but just a family favourite. I have used the same ingredients and quantities she gave, but have made the procedure simpler and easier. I serve it with Naan, Peas Pulav, and Mushroom and Capsicum Pulav.
The Madras Curry Powder was developed in Tamil Nadu in the kitchens were food was cooked to suit the palate of the British during their Raj. It is quite different from the ‘garam masala’, the North Indian curry powder, which is mentioned in most so-called Indian recipes. Although the Madras Curry Powder has many spices in common with garam masala, it is also has fenugreek seeds, turmeric and, may be, curry leaves, which are typical constituents of Tamil cooking. This powder, though very popular in Britain, is available in very few shops in Tamil Nadu and has never been part of Tamil cooking, which has its own extensive range of curry powders. May be it is too mild for our palate :), and I doubt if people even knew about it since it was made specially for the British. I myself stumbled across it only a decade ago in an exclusive spice shop, which caters a lot to foreigners. Nevertheless, I find it a very versatile curry powder which can be used for both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
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.