I have adored ice cream from childhood. I have always wanted to make ice cream at home so that I can have rich and creamy ice cream whenever I wanted it. Store bought ice cream is never satisfying as it has a lot of air in it, and it isn’t the all that healthy due to the added colouring, preservatives, stabilisers, etc. I came across a recipe in Hershey’s Chocolate and Cocoa Cookbook, but it used ingredients that are not available in India. I have modified that recipe extensively to adapt it to what is easily available in Indian stores. It is a very easy and simple recipe that uses only 4 store bought ingredients and is also vegetarian.
I was very fond of vendaikai/lady’s finger because I was told that I would excel in mathematics if I ate it. Liars! I used to ask my mother to prepare vendaikai pachadi because I liked the taste of it. My mother used to make vendaikai pachadi with tamarind and coconut. I discovered that if I cooked it with unripe mango instead of tamarind for the sour taste and left out the coconut from the recipe, I arrived at the most delicious salad (fried) of lady’s finger and mango.
In Thirunelveli, stuffed eggplant is known as Ennai Kathirikai, which actually means eggplant fried in oil. This dish is considered to be exotic, maybe because the masala is roasted and ground and the brinjal is stuffed with it. It is usually served in vegetarian feasts. The leftover stuffing is fried in the leftover oil and in the tamarind juice used for cooking the eggplant and served along with the stuffed brinjal, and therefore nothing is wasted during the preparation of the dish.
I came across this dish when it was presented in a cookery competition in the Women’s Christian College in the 1970s. I was fascinated by the colour, texture, and flavour of this methi with potato. However, the recipe won only a 3rd place in the contest. I asked my student Samyukta for the recipe, and she wrote it out for me immediately. The original recipe was very spicy as Samyukta is from Andhra Pradesh. I have toned down the spice to give it a more subtle flavour.
May is the month when neighbours share the mangoes from their trees with their friends, and I received several varieties of mangoes. This Festive Unripe Mango Pachadi is very popular in my family. Though this also has jam-like consistency, it is called pachadi because it is tempered with mustard in ghee. We always serve it with Biriyanis, Pulavs, and Kuska Rice, or quite often with the humble sambar rice.
In Tamil, the term Surulappam means rolled (or curled) flat fried bread. In this case, the bread happens to be a pancake. It also has a sweet stuffing of fresh coconut, sugar, and freshly crushed cardamom, which gives it the most exquisite taste and flavour.
In Chennai all the mango trees are heavy with ripening mangoes, but we also get unripe mangoes in all the stores. This is the time to make a variety of mango pickles. I found this recipe in my notebook, but it does not belong to my family. I must have received it either from a friend or copied it from a tattered Tamil recipe book. I am unable to give credit to the author, but I salute him or her for such a delicious pickle where none of the flavours dominate.