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.
I found very good quality limes in the food stores – though the prices have not come down much 🙂 Since the limes were so fresh and luscious, I decided to make this Sweet and Sour Lime Pickle. I have been making this pickle for the last 35 years as my husband loved it. He always wanted a sweet and sour pickle and would also ask for it. I developed this recipe and, as the years went by, I modified it till I arrived at the perfect balance of flavours which was loved by the whole family.
Winter is almost over, but we still get lovely fresh vegetables to make this dish. My mother never made vegetable kuruma, but I always remembered the kuruma we enjoyed when visiting relatives. I tried to reproduce what I had eaten before, but I made the mistake of trying to make it like a meat kuruma which was not well received in the family. I eventually figured out the magic technique – do not use curds, mint, strongly flavoured vegetables like knol-khol (kohlrabi), or strongly pigmented vegetables like beetroot.
We Tamilians love our drumstick trees, and in villages every house would have one. In Chennai, however, only those with large plots of land have them and the rest of us have to buy drumstick leaves from stores. Drumstick leaves are used to make poriyal (fry). They are not usually combined with other vegetables, but non-vegetarians cook these with either fresh or dry prawns (karuvadu).
Another prawn and vegetable combo! This time the vegetable I have chosen to go with the prawn is cabbage. Cabbage is available plentifully throughout the year in Tamil Nadu. The variety that we get is locally known as Muttai Kose, referring to its round shape, but nothing to do with egg. The masala (spices) I have used here is different from the usual of combination of spices used in Tamil cooking. This is a very mild and delicately flavoured dish which can be served with Potato Pulav, Peas Pulav, , biriyanis, and Indian breads such as Khamiri Roti, Naan, Pooris, and chapathis.
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.
Though we’re past the Spring Equinox, good quality cauliflower is still available. The tomatoes are also luscious. In Tamil Nadu, cauliflower is rarely combined with prawns, so I decided to experiment combining the two with tomatoes. The crisp texture of the fried prawns and the turgor of cauliflower add an interesting mouthfeel to the dish.