Winter is almost over, but we still get lovely fresh vegetables to make this dish. My mother never made vegetable kuruma, but I always remembered the kuruma we enjoyed when visiting relatives. I tried to reproduce what I had eaten before, but I made the mistake of trying to make it like a meat kuruma which was not well received in the family. I eventually figured out the magic technique – do not use curds, mint, strongly flavoured vegetables like knol-khol (kohlrabi), or strongly pigmented vegetables like beetroot.
January and February are the months when the markets in Tamil Nadu receive the freshest of the so-called English Vegetables. As a child I used to look forward to these months when we used to have peas and cauliflower very often in the menus. The peas are luscious and the cauliflower is so creamy white and crisp. In Palayamkottai (my hometown) Rich Peas Pulav and Muttai Cauliflower used to be prepared every week. My mother had a collection of recipes using these vegetables. One of the favourites was meat cooked along with peas, cauliflower, and, of course, potatoes that are always combined with meat.
I always wanted to make a nourishing one-pot meal that could be prepared easily and provide a family with protein, energy, and vegetables. Potatoes and carrots complement the flavour of beef, and I developed this curry to use a minimum of spices and braised the beef to improve the flavour. I have also used celery salt in this recipe. Celery salt and braising are both unusual in Tamil cooking, but they give this dish an enticing aroma and mouth-watering flavour.
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.
Happy New Year everyone! I would like to kick off 2018 with a dish that is known all over the world. Tandoori chicken is a signature dish of Punjab but has become very popular in Tamil Nadu, especially in the cities, due to the increase in restaurants serving North Indian cuisine following the migration of North Indians to the South. Even road-side eateries advertise Tandoori cooking. The traditional Tandoor oven, which originated in West Asia, is a special device that none of us have at home in Tamil Nadu. I, therefore, looked for recipes using the regular Oven Toaster Grill (OTG) and found several methods. This recipe combines the best from many sources and my own experiments in making the perfect Tandoori Chicken 🙂
With the monsoon still continuing, cooking with dried legumes becomes very useful. Those in Chennai are very familiar with dry peas sundal (pattani sundal) that is sold on the beach. Here you can use the same dry peas to make a curry and serve with chappati or bread. A steaming hot and fragrant curry will cheer people of all ages when it is raining heavily outside.
Markandam means thoracic cavity in Tamil. It consists of the ribs and the muscles on them. My grandmother used to prepare this breastbone curry whenever we were recovering from an illness. She believed that the minerals from the bones helped to build immunity. That is why it is called ‘Rasam’ meaning extract. Because it is rasam, the gravy is quite thin in spite of the coconut added to it. It is my favourite mutton preparation, and I used to pester my mother to make it even when we were not ill. Having piping hot markandam rasam with piping hot rice in winter is absolutely divine 🙂