Scotch Eggs are usually served at festive meals. The eggs are wrapped in cooked mince meat and fried after coating them with egg and bread crumbs. You can find any number of recipes in books and on YouTube. There are one or two recipes using potatoes instead of minced meat, but they are all traditional Indian ‘bonda’ flavoured eggs. Since Scotch Eggs are totally western, I decided to prepare a product that is very similar to western Scotch Eggs but using potatoes so that egg eating vegetarians can consume them as well.
Thirunelveli meat curries are always extended with vegetables such as drumsticks, brinjals, broad beans and, of course, potatoes. This is a family recipe my mother used to make with mutton and radish; we used to love the strong flavour. Now I make this with beef instead of mutton as the rich flavour of beef blends better with radish. I have also simplified the recipe extensively, using a pressure cooker to cook all the ingredients in one shot. I use white radish because that is freely available in Chennai, but in Thirunelveli, my mother used pink radish. This curry is usually served with rice and chappatis.
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.
In 1984, we attended a Marathi wedding. In the wedding feast, a dish of brinjal and mochai (field beans) was served, and I was impressed by the taste and even asked for a second helping. My daughter, who was only 10 years old at that time, still remembers that incident. I tried to recreate the dish, but I could not get the exact flavour and consistency. A few months ago a Facebook friend, Vandarkuzhali Rajasegar, who is also an Assistant Professor in Foods and Nutrition, posted that she had made a dish of brinjal and white channa (whole Bengal gram/white chickpea). I immediately asked her for the recipe. Though she gave me a mere skeleton of the recipe, without amounts, I knew immediately that I had hit upon that 1984 dish. I standardised it using mochai, and I got the exact flavour after all these years 😀
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.
Prawns always help add flavour to vegetable dishes. This recipe comes from my Burma repatriate friend. When she told me that her mother combines prawn with bitter gourd I was shocked and sceptical about the taste of the product because the bitter gourd, as the name suggests, has a very strong, bitter flavour. Still, I got the recipe from her and decided to try it at home. To my amazement and pleasure, I found that this is one of the most delectable preparations of prawn with another vegetable.
We usually cook our greens in India – we do not make salads with them. The south has a variety of greens: Amaranth, Drumstick, Agathi, Ponnanganni, and of course the Palak, which we call Pasalai Keerai. We use all these greens in Tamil Nadu to make poriyal (fry). I have chosen greens from the Amaranth family because they are easily available in all the stores or brought to your doorstep by street vendors. I used to be woken up at 5.30 in the morning by the clarion call ‘Keeraiiiii!’ from an enthusiastic vendor.