I have come across a wide variety of dishes from many states as students from all across India attended Women’s Christian College, Chennai. This is a dish from Andhra Pradesh. My student M.S. Vani prepared this dish in my dietetics lab session. I was very impressed by its nutritive value, and the dish was novel to me. I got the recipe from her and modified it by adding onion to improve the flavour. I also reworked the cooking method to cook the tomatoes with the onions and boiled the carrots to remove the raw flavour.
Pirattal in Tamil means stirring or turning. My mother called this recipe sadha meaning plain/ordinary/simple. It does live up to its name as only the coconut and ginger-garlic paste need grinding. She used only garlic, but I have substituted it with ginger-garlic paste to spice it up. This pirattal is so easy to prepare that even cooking noobs can try it 🙂
Vazhaikkai (unripe bananas/plantains) are available round the year if you are lucky enough to live in South India :). The bananas are used in a variety of dishes as part of a dish like aviyal or kootanchoru, or as the primary ingredient in preparations like these cutlets. I have adapted this recipe from my grandmother’s vazhaikkai vadais. I prefer this as it is shallow fried with very little oil.
Meen Asaadhu is a recipe which my mother had copied from her grandmother’s book but she never prepared. I was always curious about it and tried it only when I was able to get skinless and boneless fish cubes (when I moved near the sea 10 years ago). My great-grandmother had recommended either pomfret or barracuda, but you can use other any other marine fish which could be prepared into cubes. I prefer to use black pomfret.
Way back in 1982, I asked my students to plan and prepare a South Indian meal. One of my Tamil Muslim students presented this speciality dish of her family which, despite being Tamil, she referred to by its Hindi name Khatte Baingan (Khatte – sour; Baingan – Brinjal). I was captivated by its flavour and the ease with which she prepared it. It goes amazingly well with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian biriyanis and pulavs.
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.
The inspiration for this recipe came from one of my students who was presenting a lecture demonstration on a diet for diabetics using bitter gourd. Bitter gourd is popularly known to be good for diabetes (it isn’t!) which is why she used it, but she sprinkled sugar all over it! I pointed out that this would not be suitable for diabetics to which she responded cheerfully that bitter gourd by itself is, well, bitter, and the sugar would make it palatable. I had to lower her marks as she had missed the point totally, but I came up with an interesting idea for a Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd Curry.