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 😀
We in Thirunelveli are quite indifferent to the names of North Indian dishes. The P in Parathas and Pooris is always pronounced as a B, giving us Barotta and Booris. The term barotta was picked up from the chopped up parathas served as street food in bus stations. A similar technique was applied to use the leftover pooris in households.
Christmas is the special time of year when people suddenly remember you and drop in hoping for a tasty bite or two 🙂 Carol singers may also pop by to delight you with their enthusiasm if not their talent 😀 This Kari Vadai is my grandmother’s recipe, which I used to enjoy in my Thirunelveli days; it is easy to make and a delight to consume – a guaranteed guest pleaser! It can be served as a snack or as an accompaniment to the Christmas feast along with onion rings and lemon wedges.
Pakodas are favourite teatime snacks all over India. There are a variety of pakodas made in different states, but in Thirunelveli, especially in my family, whole wheat flour pakodas were made and served as a breakfast item. It is unique because it combines black gram dhal along with wheat flour to give a softer texture and improve the nutritive value.
I first heard of Latkes in the 90s, and I immediately wanted to make them as I was fascinated by the idea of potato pancakes. I was fortunate to come across the Cockney Cookbook a few years ago in a bookstore, and it had this recipe and an interesting description of accompaniments, so I grabbed it. I tried Latkes for breakfast recently and was it a great success – not a crumb was left behind! The book suggested waxy potatoes, but in India we are limited by whatever is available in the stores, which in my case were non-waxy potatoes. I have modified the recipe slightly by increasing the onion and pepper content to suit our palate. Though the book recommends serving Latkes as an accompaniment or appetiser, I used it as the main breakfast dish, and it can be even used in a packed lunch.
Doctors also can be good cooks 🙂 This recipe is from my ophthalmologist cousin Suriya, who specialises in low fat cooking. She served these cutlets when we had gone over for dinner, and we loved it. She was very happy to give the recipe. Her method used the entire chicken as she doesn’t get only the skinless, boneless breast. I have modified the recipe by using chicken breast and also cooked the chicken using my own recipe for chicken stock. In this way, I get the cooked chicken for the cutlet and the stock for other dishes.
During the 80s, unsold books from Western countries used to be exported to India as waste paper and sold here as books at throwaway prices. I picked up The Cookie Cookbook by Evelyne Johnson in one such sale for just Rs. 6. It’s a tiny book, called a Dell Purse Book, and I forgot I had it until I discovered it amongst my books 30 years later. This book has a recipe called Mrs. Graham’s Honey Dough which disappointed me with its flavour and texture. A year later I tried the recipe again, modifying it to improve its taste and mouth feel. I increased the eggs and honey in the recipe, which improved both the flavour and appearance and imparted a cake-like texture to the cookies. These cookies have a very soft texture and can be served to the elderly who face difficulty in chewing, as well as to toddlers. Because they are soft, crumbs do not fly, reducing post-consumption cleanup time 🙂