Generally, South Indian dhal curry is always associated with Sambar, but in Thirunelveli (a southern district of Tamil Nadu) dhal curry or kuzhambu is made using ground coconut and fresh green spices like green chillies. There are several variations of this kuzhambu, but I am presenting the paruppu kuzhambu which has been made in my family for generations. We use red gram dhal, green chillies and coriander leaves, and select South Indian vegetables. It is always tempered with fenugreek seeds along with mustard seeds. We also use unripe mango to give sourness or tamarind extract when mango is not available. I have added fenugreek powder also to enhance the flavour.
Chennai summer – which begins in March 🙂 – is still roasting us, but that also means that mangoes are available in plenty. This year also I received mangoes from my neighbours. I was looking for new recipes as I had exhausted my family recipes. I found this interesting recipe for mango chutney in the 1,000 Indian Recipe Cookbook. I was fascinated by the use of onion seeds (kalonji in Hindi) – we don’t use these in Tamil Nadu. When I first tried out this recipe, I found that the flavour of cumin and onion seeds dominated the chutney so much that we could eat it only with curd rice. I have reduced the amounts by half to one-eighth to suit our palate. Though the chutney is spicy, the amount of sugar used masks the strong spicy flavour. This chutney is ideally suited as an accompaniment to Chicken Biriyani, Tomato Biriyani, and Turkey Biriyani.
I believe in using my culinary equipment as often as possible. I therefore like to experiment and create different kinds of kuzhippaniaram (fritters) to make use of the kuzhippaniaram mould. I have already given recipes for Kuzhippaniaram with dosai batter and All Wheat Kuzhippaniaram without dosai batter. I have always wanted to combine cheese with the milk and egg batter and make fritters without deep frying to arrive at a high protein, low fat snack. This is a western kuzhippaniaram as I have used oregano seasoning for flavouring. I would have liked to use dry garlic powder, but it is not easily available in Chennai and has a poor shelf life even if it is, so I have used fresh garlic in the preparation.
In Tamil Nadu, drumstick leaves have been sustaining the health of Tamilians because they are rich in a large number of nutrients. This is the reason why drumstick trees are planted almost in every household. Even hut dwellers have drumstick leaves growing next to their dwellings. I have already given a recipe for cooking drumstick leaves with prawns. This recipe combines groundnuts with drumstick leaves to give equivalent nourishment for vegetarians.
Sweet potato is always available in stores. My mother used to boil and mash the sweet potatoes with ghee and sugar, and make big balls of the mixture. It served as a lovely, satisfying teatime snack when I came home from school. I have previously given the recipe for Sweet Potato Dessert with Maple Syrup, which I made from a recipe given by my son’s friend. I have always wanted to make my own sweet potato dessert, and that experience inspired me to create this one.
The temperature has crossed 36° C in Chennai, and you can hear the sound of kids playing all day. Yep, it’s the summer holidays, and that’s the perfect time to experiment with different types of ice cream. Papaya is available all year round, and relatively inexpensive. It is also quite nutritious, but as some people don’t like the taste of papaya, I thought of making an ice cream. I was inspired by Hawaiian cookery to make this extremely quick and easy and delectable papaya ice cream.
Kuzhippaniaram is traditionally made with dosai batter. I came up with this recipe one morning when I wanted to make vermicelli uppuma but found I had only one cup of vermicelli. While wondering what to do, I had a brainwave: why not make a kuzhippaniaram with vermicelli? I then extended this concept to include other wheat products, creating this very unique combination of a South Indian dish made with wheat (which doesn’t grow here). This goes extremely well with Vengaya Sambar and Coconut Thuvaiyal.