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.
I developed this chicken and capsicum curry to dish up a non-vegetarian preparation in a hurry. It is very mild and can be served to both children and the elderly, or anyone who is on a bland diet. Because it is not very spicy it goes better with fried rice or noodles rather than bread or chapathi.