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.
We have a joke about Chennai rain: January-October – water scarcity; November & December – water scares city :). On some days we are unable to shop due to flooding. It is wise to stock different kinds of legumes to make curries when vegetables are not available. I created this Dry Butter Beans Curry as it is easy to prepare, can be served with chappati or rice, and has an interesting flavour.
In the early ’80s, I had a Mangalorean student called Sudha who then managed the WCC Canteen for some time, when she introduced this dish on the menu. I was fascinated by its unusual combination of ingredients and flavour that was unique to Tamil taste buds. This is her recipe, which I’ve modified to suit the modern Indian kitchen and shorten the cooking time.
You can do more with pumpkins than just carve them for Halloween. Why not make halwa instead? In India, pumpkin halwa (a very rich and heavy sweet) is usually prepared with white pumpkin. My mother’s recipe book also mentions preparing pumpkin halwa with white pumpkin. In Tamil Nadu, yellow pumpkin is also used to make halwa but is not as well known as white pumpkin halwa. I have used the same procedure my mother gave me, changing only the method of removing most of the moisture from the pumpkin.
Happy Deepavalli everyone! In Tamil, Thirattuppaal means milk condensed to a semi-solid consistency. This is a speciality of Tamil Nadu, but it is curiously, nowadays, neither made at home nor found in shops, maybe because the North Indian milk sweets have become very popular. I chose this as a Deepavalli special as it can be made at home quite easily – but not quickly 🙂 – instead of buying sweets from stores, which is now the norm but also very expensive.
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.
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.