Kathrikai Curry – Tiny eggplants spiced with salt and paprika and shallow fried.

Background:

Katrikai aka Brinjal aka Eggplant is K’s favorite vegetable specially when made crispy and shallow fried to a golden brown. I hate this vegetable but since K loves it, I try and make it each time I make Okra so each of us have our favorites.

Stuff you will need:

Brinjal/Eggplant/Kathrikai – 1 lb cut into 8 pieces each
Sambar powder/Paprika – 1.5 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard – 1 tsp
Urad Dhal – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch

How to make it?

In a shallow kadai, heat water till it boils. Add the cut and soaked kathrikai and let cook till the skin turns color and the flesh starts becoming translucent. Remove from heat, drain and set aside. In the same kadai now heat oil till its hot enough. Add mustard and urad dhal and let cook till mustard bursts and the urad dhal turns a golden brown. Add asafoetida. Now add the previously boiled and cooled kathrikai and let it be coated with the oil. Let cook till the oil is absorbed and then add the salt and sambar powder. If sambar powder is not available, add a mix of paprika and ground coriander seed powder (dhania). Mix well and let the kathrikai cook on low medium heat till well done. Remove and serve hot with rice.

Serves two.

Special notes:

Cutting the kathrikai and soaking it in water with lime juice in it helps prevent oxidation. This calls for a tad bit more oil when compared to other south indian curries as well.

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Vendakkai Curry – Okra spiced with salt and paprika and shallow fried.

Background:

Vendakkai aka Lady’s finger aka Okra is my favorite vegetable specially when made crispy and shallow fried to a golden brown. I love it as a side to the thayir sadam. Moving to the US, I sure missed my willowy favorite for all I could find were the short stubby cousin of the vendakkai I grew up with. I was told growing up that consuming vendakkai could do wonders for my pathetic Math scores. Now, I realize nothing could have helped 🙂

Stuff you will need:

Okra/Vendakkai – 1 lb sliced into 1/4 inch pieces horizontally.
Sambar powder/Paprika – 1.5 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard – 1 tsp
Urad Dhal – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch

How to make it?

In a shallow kadai, heat oil till its hot enough. Add mustard and urad dhal and let cook till mustard bursts and the urad dhal turns a golden brown. Add asafoetida. Now add the cut okra and let it be coated with the oil. Let cook till the oil is absorbed and then add the salt and sambar powder. If sambar powder is not available, add a mix of paprika and ground coriander seed powder (dhania). Mix well and let the okra cook on low medium heat till well done. Remove and serve hot with rice.

Serves two.

Special notes:

Cutting the okra and letting it dry allows for a nice crisp curry without the standard stickiness associated with okra. This curry does ask for a little more oil than associated with regular south indian curries.

Thayir Semiya – Semolina/Vermicelli in seasoned yogurt sauce and garnished with shredded carrots and cucumbers

Background:

Growing up in Coimbatore with Annapoorna at walking distance meant plenty of thayir semiya. I absolutely love this alternative to the ubiquitous thayir sadham. Served chill with a side of lemon pickle this humble dish truly makes me drool. So, yesterday breaking my head in trying to make something other than the regular samayal, I settled for godhuma dosai with chinna vengaya sambar and thayir semiya.

Stuff you will need:
Semiya (Vermicelli/wheat noodles) – 1 cup
Ghee – 1 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp
Mustard – 1 tsp
Green or Red chillies – 1 split into two
Ginger – small cube grated
Curry leaves – 4-5 chopped
Asafoetida – a pinch
Cucumber seedless small – 1 grated
Carrot small peeled – 1 grated
Yogurt/Curds thick – 4 tbsp
Warm milk – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

How to make it?

Boil a pan 3/4ths full of water till it gets to a rolling boil. In the meanwhile roast the semiya well in ghee till it turns a reddish hue and set aside. When water is boiling add the semiya and cook till done but not mushy. Drain in colander and wash with cold water. Set aside. In a small kadai, heat oil and when hot enough add mustard, asafoetida, green chillies, grated ginger and curry leaves.

In a mixing bowl transfer the cooled, cooked semiya, add the seasoning, salt and the warm milk. Mix. Add the thick curds and mix well. Garnish with grated carrots and cucumber.

Serve chilled with lemon pickle

Serves two

Special notes:

The seasoning can be omitted and instead grated carrots, cucumbers can be supplemented with roasted cashew bits and cut red grapes.

Poricha Kootu – Cabbage stew with shredded coconut and lentils mildly tempered with spices

Background:

Speaking to my aunt yesterday I asked her what she was having for lunch and she said “Porichu Kootu”. Now, visions of heavenly smelling, steaming hot kootu appeared before me. I knew I would be making it before a day passed. This morning as I stood steaming the cabbage, I decided to make it poricha kootu style. Literally translated it means “Fried” kootu. It is a misnomer though since all that is being fried is the seasoning.

Stuff you will need:

1 – 2 lb snake gourd or any kind of squash or cabbage
1/2 cup – Thuvar dhal (pigeon peas) cooked and mashed
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1+1/2 tsp
Coconut – 1/4 cup shredded or four medium sized pieces chopped
Urad dhal – 2 tsp
Bengal gram dhal (chenna dhal) – 2 tsp
Black pepper – 1/2 tsp
Cumin – 1 tsp
Dried red chillies – 2
Green chillies – 2 small chopped
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs chopped
Ghee – 1 tsp
Mustard – 1 tsp

How to make it?

In a covered pan or small cooker, cook the vegetable with water, salt, turmeric and asafoetida. While this is being done, pressure cook thuvar dhal, mash and keep aside. Toast the urad dhal, bengal gram dhal, cumin, black pepper, curry leaves, red chillies and coconut till reddish brown. Grind using little water and the green chillies into a smooth paste.

When the vegetable is done cooking, add mashed dhal and the ground paste and simmer on low medium heat till it all comes together nicely. Temper mustard and cumin in ghee and garnish on top.

Serve hot with rice or rotis.

Serves four

Special notes: This is a variation of the regular kootu that dry toasts the spices before grinding then. The mix of toasted black pepper, red chillies and green chillies gives this dish a nice aroma. Absolutely comfort food.

Manathakkali kai Vatral Kuzhambu – Sundried sun-berries in a spicy tamarind soup

Background:

Today is Varalakshmi Vratham and it is usually celebrated with a bit of pomp and show. This year however, owing to a death in the family, the celebrations were muted. Instead of the usual idli, kozhukattai that is made I opted for the simple pongal and made vatral kuzhambu to go with it. Since I had not taken the day off it made sense for me to pick something easy.

Stuff you will need:

Tamarind – A ball the size of a big lemon – soaked and pulp extracted
Manathakkali vatral (sundried sun berries) – a handful
Gingelly oil – 2 tbsps
Mustard – 1 tsp
Urad dhal – 2 tsp
Fenugreek (Methi seeds) – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – 2 pinches
Salt – 1.5 tsp
Sambar powder – 2 tsp
Red chillies – 1 broken into two
Rice flour – 1 tsp mixed with 100 ml of water
Jaggery – 2 tbsp
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs chopped.

How to make it?

In a thick bottomed vessel set on medium high heat, pour the gingelly oil. When hot, add mustard, urad dhal, fenugreek, asafoetida, red chillies, manathakkali vatral. When mustard pops, add sambar powder and saute till raw smell of sambar powder is gone. Add tamarind pulp and boil. Add salt and jaggery and boil. Add the rice flour – water paste till the kuzhambu reduces to a thick soupy liquid. Now add curry leaves and turn heat off.

Serve hot with rice and ghee with appalam on the side.

Serves four.

Special notes:

Manathakkali can be used along with Sundakkai (Turkey berry) vatral. Shallots may be peeled and added when the manathakkai is added and sauteed along with it before adding tamarind pulp.