Plantains are delicious, a variety of banana that is eaten while green. India uses them a lot, far more than Western cuisines which tend to ignore them completely. Enjoy these spicy dishes and snacks.
We have another kari for you today. A kari is (generally) a vegetable side dish in Tamil Nadu and it is an important part of a balanced meal. This one is plantain cooked with tamarind and some simple spices. It is easy to make and very delicious.
A kari is (generally) a vegetable side dish in Tamil Nadu and it is an important part of a balanced meal. Most people believe that the word curry comes from kari although the first term is generic for spicy dishes and the latter is a dish that can be served mild or made exotic with a variety of spices (and deep frying). There are lots of versions of the etymology of kari, but there is some agreement that its modern day usage means stir fried. Still, you will find lots of different interpretations of it. Stir-fry vegetable dishes can also be called Poriyal, and some Sundals are also classified as a kari. Kari can be made with a large variety of vegetables – carrots, beans, snakegourd, broad beans, cluster beans, corn, broccoli, chow chow, plantain etc.
One of my enduring memories of Kerala is the proliferation of freshly cooked plantain chips – delicious deep fried slices of raw banana, crispy and salty. Even when I was staying in Mylapore in Chennai, the wallah was making huge woks-full of fresh plantain chips right there on the street, so you’d get them straight from the pan.
They can be made at home of course – quite easily in fact. Just like the street wallahs, you can slice the plantain right into the hot oil if it is safe to do so. Otherwise slice them onto a plate and add to the oil. As they cook the flavourings are added to the layer of chips, or they can be salted as they come out of the pan. Madhur Jaffrey also adds curry leaves and green chilli to the oil before removing the chips – the oil does erupt a bit when you do this so I often leave it out. You can add chilli powder to the chips as they come out of the oil if you wish.
Kootu (or Koottu) is a simple, yet delicious dish that’s made in most Tamil homes in Tamil Nadu in South India. While it can be made at any time, it is especially important during some festivals, such as Pongal.
This kootu is different from the traditional Aviyal as the mix of ingredients is different. Each Tamil home has their own style of making this kootu and the vegetables chosen also differ from home to home. Kootu usually includes lentils and is similar to sambar and kuzhambu, but there is a variation that is similar to Aviyal in that lentils are not used but a variety of vegetables are included. Most kootus are spiced with a coconut, cumin and red or green chillies in a paste – sometimes spices are kept to a minimum and just a coconut paste is used.
The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes. You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.
It is interesting to compare the Madhur Jaffrey version of Kerala’s Aviyal (delicious) with this traditional Tamil version from Meenakshi Ammal (also delicious). Madhur Jaffrey wrote for Western audiences, and used commonly available ingredients and vegetables, while Meenakshi Ammal wrote for Indian wives using locally available produce. There will also be regional differences. The first thing I noticed is that Ammal specifically excludes okra from the recipe list, while Jaffrey includes it. (I did put a few in this time, I quite enjoy them.)
The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes.You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.
Avial can be made with a liquid sauce of coconut and yoghurt, or the sauce can remain thick and just coats the vegetables. It is generally eaten with rice.
The word aviyal (aka avial) is also used to denote ‘boiled’ or ‘cooked in water’ —this sense being derived from the way the dish is made. They say that the origins of this recipe is from the Nambudiri cuisine but it is now common throughout South India.
Pineapples are ripening at the moment, and along with all of the other magnificent produce in the shops, they are abundant, cheap and delicious. I am not a fan of peeling pineapples with all those eyes to cut out (some have more than others), but the occasional recipe is worth it. Today we are making a Pachadi – a side dish – from pineapple. This dish from Kerala is quite unusual. Commonly, Pachadis from Tamil Nadu and Kerala have a yoghurt base for the vegetable component, or include an amount of coconut. This one has some coconut, but it cooks the pineapple, grapes and plantain to the point that it is jammy, almost like a halwa. But don’t be fooled, it is spicy with sweet and sour tastes. It tastes a little like a pickle, or a cross between a pickle and a pachadi. It is definitely a dish where less is more when serving – a couple of Tblspns along with rice, thorans and other Kerala sadya dishes. It is delicious, I am sure you will come back for seconds.
There are two main versions of Madhura Pachadi, this one flavours the pachadi with powdered mustard seeds, and another which cooks the pineapple in tamarind. The recipe today is based on one from Elephants and Coconut Trees. You can chop the pineapple into pieces that are about 1 – 1.5 cm and they will retain a little bite when cooked (yummy) or chop smaller and it will melt into a halwa type consistency (also yummy).
There are advantages and disadvantages to living in downtown outer-suburban capital city. It is countrified living, but the access to specialist products such as good cheeses, excellent olive oils etc is limited. I found out the other day that I can’t buy Bitter Lemon around here – there goes my Gin and Bitter Lemon. Is that out of fashion now?
What I am eternally grateful for, you don’t know how much, is the range of fruit and vegetables that are common in my area but not seen in the inner-suburban groceries and supermarkets where I used to live. Plantains. Mangoes all year. Pomelo. Mustard Greens. Chilli Leaves. Betel Leaves. Pea Eggplants. Apple Eggplants. Okra. Green Mangoes. FRESH PINEAPPLES FOR $1!! I could go on and on. This availability has radicalised our kitchen’s menu. Every trip I want to bow down to the owners of the Vietnamese grocery in particular. Total gratitude.
So today the dish is a quick curry of plantain, stir fried and then simmered in spices to make a Poriyal from Tamil Nadu in South India. It is very very delicious with some rice (mix with a little ghee and a pinch or two of poppy seeds), some sambar (plantain can be a bit dry in texture, so it is good to have it with a wet dish) and some chutney. Finish with some curd/yoghurt if you wish.
Similar dishes include Plantain Kari, Plantain Chips, Plantain Moar Kootu, Plantain in Tamarind Gravy (make this dish with plantain instead of eggplant in the recipe), Plantain Pulissery (make this dish with plantain instead of pineapple in the recipe), Carrot Poriyal, and Carrot and Bean Poriyal.
This dish gets its name from the fact that it is prepared with 7 vegetables. It is a South Indian dish, actually a Tamil dish, which is often prepared on Thiruvathirai Day as a side dish for Thiruvadhira Kali (a sweet mung dal and rice dish made on this festival day). Although its name means seven vegetables, often nine, eleven, or even more are used! It is a blend of sweet, salty, tangy and spicy flavours that meld so well together, and is a perfect clean-out-the-fridge dish.
But you can also make this dish at any time – don’t keep it only for a festival dish. The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes.You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.
I love this dish cooked just with potatoes. It is divine. Today I made it with Colacasia, Chenai Yam, Cluster Beans, Pumpkin, Potato, Ridged Gourd, and Drumstick. Delicious!
This Kothsu (also spelled Gothsu or Kosthu) is a tamarind based South Indian curry that is made by roasting and mashing eggplant and popping it into a spicy tamarind gravy. It is the second Kosthu of this kind that we have posted. The first one, Brinjal Tamarind Kothsu, uses a different spice mix with the eggplant. These Kothsu recipes are different to many others as they are made with roasted eggplants which gives them a smoky flavour.
Some people get these two Brinjal Kothsu dishes confused with Chidambaram Brinjal Kothsu, but they are different. Chidambaram Brinjal Kothsu is made with toor dal and without tamarind. Today’s Brinjal Kothsu is made without any dal, and includes tamarind. There is only a little gravy which is thickened with some rice flour, so it just coats the eggplant. You can see that the two dishes are quite different.
This recipe can also be made with plantain (green banana) or onions instead of eggplant. See the notes below the recipe for more details.
Avial is a gentle dish from Kerala, made with vegetables and coconut.
Avial is a gentle dish from Kerala. It is a thick mixture of vegetables and coconut, seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. In essence, the vegetables are boiled or steamed and then dressed with the coconut-cumin-yoghurt sauce. Each family’s sauce is different from the next family’s. In our recipe today we are using cumin in the sauce.
Avial is considered an essential part of the Sadya, the Keralite vegetarian feast. It is commonly made with elephant yam, plantain, pumpkin, carrots, beans, Eggplant, cucumber, drumsticks and snake gourd. Carrots and beans are recent but delicious introduction. Bitter gourd can be included in some regions also.