When we moved to Chennai née Madras in 1957, the first thing we did was to visit the beach. An integral part of the beach experience is sundal (dried peas snack), which is usually sold by mobile snack sellers who offer it along with many other traditional Tamil snacks. The speciality of the Madras beach sundal is that it is flavoured with coconut and unripe mango and served in a newspaper cone. As a child, the flavour was absolutely divine even with the inevitable sand from the beach. The green chillies made it so spicy that I used to cry into the sundal but still loved it 😀 I have now recreated the beach sundal but made the flavour a lot milder so that you can enjoy it in your living room minus the tears and the sand 🙂
- Kala’s Thenga Manga Madras Beach Sundal
During the lockdown, we are forced to stock up on vegetables that can be stored for some time, such as colocasia. That doesn’t mean we have to make only the typical colocasia preparations. I’d previously given recipes for Colocasia Fry and Bonda. I have now come up with this Colocasia Bajji recipe as people are longing for the fried delicacies they used to enjoy before the lockdown. Since the colocasia has a slight sweetish taste, I have used coriander and cumin powder in the batter to complement the flavour. The crisp coating and the soft interior make it a very interesting and scrumptious snack.
Kala’s Colocasia Bajji (Fritter)
Now that it is Palm Sunday we can begin planning the Easter feast 🙂 During this lockdown, one has to make do with what we have stocked up on. I needed a dish that I could make with the ingredients I had at home and found this recipe in the Encyclopaedia of Creative Cooking. The original required almonds to be mixed into the batter, but I didn’t have any so I replaced them with cashew nuts on top of the cookies. I also added a quarter teaspoon of salt to the recipe to emphasise the sweetness. These cookies turned out to be very crisp and were polished off with a lot of noise in no time!
Chocolate Fudgies for Easter
I first enjoyed these Vengaya Pakodas in Madurai in 1955, where there were known as Udhiri Pakodas (Crumbly Pakodas). We were served these when we visited my aunt Cynthia on weekends, which she bought from a nearby hotel. When we moved to Chennai, the Udhiri Pakoda had metamorphosed into Onion Pakoda and tasted even better. I tried for decades to replicate the recipe and finally arrived at my own method which gave the same flavour.
Kala’s Vengaya Pakoda (Onion Fritters)
In India, we use the term prawn for shrimp also. While I was looking for something special to make for Christmas, I came across the recipe Idaho Tuna Puffs in The Family Circle’s Casserole Cookery Book. I decided to substitute prawns for tuna, as tuna is not easily available here, and to make it suitable for the Indian palate. I deleted the cheese from the ingredients because it didn’t contribute either to the flavour or the texture. I used silicon moulds to make these puffs. I used some of the dough to make small pies to give variety in shapes.
Prawn (Shrimp) Puffs
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.
Kala’s Yam Fingers
The potato bonda is one of the favourite snacks in South India. It is deep fried boiled and spiced up mashed potato coated with a batter of Bengal gram flour and rice flour. People in Tamil Nadu occasionally use colocasia instead of potato. Though it is never sold in shops, because of colocasia’s sticky and gooey texture, it is made and enjoyed in homes. I wanted to explore bonda without deep frying. Therefore I hit upon using my kuzhippaniaram mould. I also wanted to make it different from the traditional potato bonda. The spice combination that I have used is also different from the potato or colocasia bonda that is traditionally made. It is an interesting dish whose lovely crisp exterior, when bitten into, yields the sticky, gooey colocasia. My daughter and I love this.
Kala’s Low Fat Colocasia Bonda