Thirattuppaal (Tamil Milk Kova with Coconut)

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.

Thirattuppaal - Kalas Kalai

Thirattuppaal (Tamil Milk Kova with Coconut)

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Carrot Tomato Curry

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.

Carrot Tomato Curry - Kalas Kalai

Carrot Tomato Curry

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Vazhaikkai Cutlet (Unripe Banana Cutlet)

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.

Vazhaikkai Cutlet - Kalas Kalai

Vazhaikkai Cutlet

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Ravai Idly (Steamed Semolina Savoury Cakes)

I don’t believe Ravai Idly is native to Tamil Nadu, though Tamil Nadu is famous for its rice idlies. I have no recollection of my mother ever making ravai idlies. I came across ravai idlies only in cookery books. This dish uses curds to prepare the batter, and as I used to rack my brains for ways to utilise the leftover curds at home, I decided to give this a try. I was very pleased with the flavour of the idlies and the substantial breakfast they made.

 

Ravai Idly - Kalas Kalai
Ravai Idlies with idly plates

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Khatte Baingan (Sour Brinjal/Eggplant Curry)

Way back in 1982, I asked my students to plan and prepare a South Indian meal. One of my Tamil Muslim students presented this speciality dish of her family which, despite being Tamil, she referred to by its Hindi name Khatte Baingan (Khatte – sour; Baingan – Brinjal). I was captivated by its flavour and the ease with which she prepared it. It goes amazingly well with both vegetarian and non-vegetarian biriyanis and pulavs.

Khatte Baingan 1 - Kalas Kalai

Khatte Baingan (Sour Brinjal/Eggplant Curry)

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Urullaikkizhangu Pittu/Puttu (Tamil Mashed Potato)

Urullaikizhangu Pittu/Puttu is a favourite side dish in my family, especially when it is served along with Vendhaya Kuzhambu. The mild flavour of the pittu and the strong flavour of the kuzhambu complement each other so delightfully that when I announce lunch or dinner people come hurrying to the table.

Urullaikkizhangu Pittu - Kalas Kalai
Urullaikkizhangu Pittu/Puttu

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Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd Curry

The inspiration for this recipe came from one of my students who was presenting a lecture demonstration on a diet for diabetics using bitter gourd. Bitter gourd is popularly known to be good for diabetes (it isn’t!) which is why she used it, but she sprinkled sugar all over it! I pointed out that this would not be suitable for diabetics to which she responded cheerfully that bitter gourd by itself is, well, bitter, and the sugar would make it palatable. I had to lower her marks as she had missed the point totally, but I came up with an interesting idea for a Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd Curry.

Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd Curry - Kalas Kalai

Sweet and Sour Bitter Gourd Curry, showing short bitter gourd that is full, cut, and with seeds removed

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