If you follow our blog (hello to all of our lovely followers!) you will know how much we love broccoli. Particularly pan-roasted broccoli. This time we have turned it into an Indian style dish, with black pepper as its major flavouring. It is delicious!
Sweetcorn is one of the treasures of Summer, so creamy, full of moisture and luscious. We love them raw and also grilled – with lashings of butter, lime and black pepper. Sweetcorn soup is brilliant, and tangy chaat a perfect snack.
Another recipe we love is a spicy, peppery stir fry of sweetcorn kernels. It is very easy to make, and a great side dish. The sweetness of the corn with the tang of lime juice and the heat of the chilli and pepper – flavours layered to perfection.
There is little food waste in the homes of ordinary people in India and Sir Lanka – even the most ordinary ingredient can be turned easily into something extraordinary. Cabbage, for example, is not one of Winter’s favourite vegetables, but when fried with a few spices it is transformed into something to die for. Check out our Cabbage Thoran and this one too.
This Sri Lankan dish is very similar to a Thoran or Poriyal, with Pandanus added. It is such a common dish (and so easy to prepare) and not surprisingly there are hundreds of variations of the dish – every family will have their own way of making it. Flavoured with onion, mustard seed, fenugreek, chillies, pandan and coconut oil, it is a very easy and tasty dish.
This recipe was given to us – we are always being sent recipes and our friends and family give us ones that they want us to make. We often don’t have the source, so if you know, fill us in so we can include the details.
We have another variation on sautéed or stir fried okra for you. It is a dish heavy with coriander leaves that lightens the deep flavours of onion, ginger and garlic. It is delicious – something that can accompany other Indian dishes, or can be eaten as a delicious mid-afternoon snack.
This is a delicious South Indian Style Curry where Chow Chow (also known as choko or chayote) is cooked along with spices and coconut. It is a simple dish, perfect for a weekday meal.
Chow chow, called choko in Australia, is a funny little vegetable – a prolific bearer and definitely loved by Tamil South Indians who tend to love all gourds. It is slightly bland in taste, with a delicious crispness and an internal juiciness. Divine! It is generally cooked simply – kootu, kari, poriyal or sambar.
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, chow chow, plantain, Indian broad beans, cluster beans, corn, broccoli, etc.
Horse gram is much loved in South India as a particularly healthy lentil. One easy way to cook and serve these elongated brown skinned beans is to make thoran (Upperi in Malabar). Thoran is a dish from Kerala where vegetables, lentils, beans or sprouts are sauteed with spices and perhaps coconut, for a special side dish or Indian salad style dish. There are several ways to make a thoran with horse gram:
- with or without coconut – either way is good. Many people prefer to add coconut as horse gram is considered a hot pulse and coconut helps to moderate the heat.
- cooked until al dente tender, so the beans remain separated, or cooked until the beans are very tender and beginning to break down – either way is good.
- made as a dry dish, or as a dish with a little gravy from the cooking water.
Generally we make our thorans with coconut so for variety we make this one without.
Read more about Horse Gram (aks Kulthi Bean). It is easily purchased in Indian shops.
Once you have your pantry set up for cooking Indian food regularly, recipes with long lists of ingredients are no longer terrifying. The reason that some recipes seem to have a kitchen-bench full of ingredients is that many of them are small amounts, less than a teaspoon. These spices produce the characteristic tastes of Indian food. For example, not counting the spices, this dish has only 3 main ingredients – carrots, coconut and onions. There, that seems much simpler than a list of 15!
The best way to approach long lists of spices is to prepare them before you begin to cook, using tiny bowls or containers to hold them. Alternatively, grab a couple of dabbas, Indian spice boxes, from your Indian shop, so that your commonly used spices are all in one container. Either method will eliminate your need to search the cupboard for a spice while cooking – and the panic that ensues when you can’t find it and the onions are over cooking as you search. We have all been there! So be organised, both in your spice cupboard and in preparing your ingredients.
This is a simple recipe today, despite the list of ingredients – a quick stir-fry of carrots with spices and coconut from the South of India. Poriyals embody the South, and can be made with many different vegetables and vegetable combinations. There are many similar variations on this dish. I love the one from Indian Vegetarian Cooking, an out of print book by Devagi Sanmugam.
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.
Some of the quickest and really good spicy dishes from India are those that take a vegetable or two and stir fry them with a few spices. These subzi dishes are wonderful side dishes, or make a simple lunch or supper served with rice or Indian flatbread.
Many of our Winter root vegetables are not as common in India, and most uses of them take existing recipes and replace the vegetable (e.g. carrot) with turnip, swede, parsnip, etc. As the Indian diaspora settles around the world, and as European and American vegetables make greater appearances in India, this will change over time.
This recipe takes a bunch of Winter vegetables and magics them into a subzi. Turnip, Swede and Cauliflower are used. Mixed with onions and spices, it makes a curry worthy of Winter. For freshness, scatter loads of coriander on top and finish with a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Similar dishes include Roasted Cauliflower with a Chilli Tomato Sauce, Punjabi Turnip Curry, Turnips in Coconut Milk, Turnip and Swede Gratin, Turnip with Spices, Okra and Onion Subzi, Kohlrabi Subzi, and Aloo Palak Subzi.
I love the book Tiffin by Srinivas. It is a terrific read with lots of lovely food-related stories. The recipes are full flavoured and perfectly balanced. It is a book I highly recommend. I have cooked a few dishes from the book and all are exceptional.
Today’s recipe is Potato Bhaaji, a warm spicy potato dish. It can be served as a snack, entree (starter) or side dish. It is perfect with dosai.