In Kerala, there is an amazing dish, Neyyum Parippum, which is mung dal cooked with few spices, and with a fair amount of ghee added. Because the amount of ghee is frightening (but delicious), different versions of the dish abound, introducing more spices and less ghee. Here is one of them, given to me by a Keralite friend.
A bunch of beautiful spinach leaves from the garden – what can be better than cooking them with toor dal and coconut with a pepper hit? This recipe is a Palakkad recipe – from that region in Kerala on the border of Tamil Nadu. The area is a melting pot of influences especially Tamil and Malayalam. This dish is quite traditional. Some recipes include pepper and others do not. As it’s name indicates with pepper, that is how we cooked it. It is quite similar to a kootu, but subtly different. It is much like the Poritha Kuzhambu of Tamil Nadu.
In Kerala, many different greens are used for this dish, even cabbage. It can be made with chowchow, long beans, snake gourd and yellow pumpkin. Mixtures of vegetables such as plantain, carrot, yam, potato and chowchow, are also excellent. Indian greens include mulai keerai, paruppu keerai, thandu keerai, palak keerai, and ara keerai – oh to have the same range of greens here.
Vendakka Khichdi is a delicious and common side-dish from Kerala. It is crispy fried okra in yoghurt flavoured with a green chilli-cumin-coconut sauce. It is often included as a part of Onam or Vishu Sadya. Otherwise, it is often served with Sambar and beautiful Indian pickles.
The okra is sliced and fried and then mixed into a yoghurt base flavoured with mustard seeds, cumin, green chill and coconut. It is one delicious dish, served warm.
There are lots of ways of drying Okra in South India, from the plain – salted and dried, to the curd-soaked okra similar to yoghurt chillies, to okra that is pre-cooked in chilli and tamarind and then dried.
This version partially dries the okra and then blanches them in salt and turmeric (how healthy!) before finishing the drying process. Like all Vathal, the dried okra are fried before use, and can be eaten as snacks, with yoghurt as a pachadi or raita, or included in dishes such as Vatral Kuzhambu.
Traditionally, in India, drying would be done on a roof top terrace in the hottest of suns. I once saw my neighbours put a whole sack of onions out in the sunshine for months to fully dry. Sadly, in other parts of the world, this is not possible. So here, I use a dehydrator with excellent results. You can also dry them in the oven.
You can check out all of our Okra dishes, and all of our Vathal and Vadagam. We have a guide to preserving Summer and Autumn fruits and vegetables for Winter. Or simply explore our Mid Autumn recipes.
Thorans are delightfully delicious, simple and quick dishes from the South of India that can form part of a meal, or can be eaten just with rice. Today our recipe is for Drumstick Leaf (Moringa Leaf) Thoran. The recipe is the same as all thorans – a tadka, some onion perhaps, the vegetable and some coconut. Delicious.
Also try Moringa Leaf Dal.
In one episode of Master Chef last year, the contestants had a mystery box that contained pineapples and green peppercorns. We were yelling at the TV screen “Kerala Pineapple Curry!!!”. Sadly, they could not hear, and I don’t recall that anyone paired them together. Kerala uses pineapple a lot in savoury ways, and this is one of them. So, Master Chef contestants, here is how you enhance the flavour of pineapples with chillies, coconut and green peppercorns.
This chutney was one of my first forays into the universe of Indian fresh chutneys, some many years ago. These days I make them a lot – not only are they wonderful in their own right and an important taste element in an Indian meal, they are also a great way to eat more vegetables, and a great way to use up any vegetable and herb that is sitting a little neglected in the fridge. They go great in sandwiches, toasties, and dolloped into soups too.
If you are trying to learn more about Indian cooking the importance of the Indian fresh chutneys is not immediately evident. They may not make sense to you – they appear in a separate section of cookbooks and it may not be evident how critical a part they play in any meal. It is only through diligent reading of many many blog posts or books, or a visit to India where you can eat in homes and local cafes, that the place of fresh chutneys in Indian meals slowly dawns.
Don’t let a day go past without whizzing one up. Read about Indian Chutneys here. Browse our Indian Chutney recipes, our general Chutney recipes, and our pickle recipes. Or explore our Late Spring dishes.
This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006. You can find other recipes from that blog in the Retro Recipes series.
A Yoghurt Curry, beautiful in its simplicity.
Puliseri, or Pulissery, is a yoghurt curry with simple spicing and thickened slightly with rice flour, designed to eat over rice. It can also be eaten as a soup, but this is non-traditional.
Pulissery is often associated with Kerala on the West coast of India, where it is also often cooked with vegetables. This recipe is from its neighbour, Tamil Nadu, and is kept simple without any additions.
The recipe is another from Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See books, full of traditional Tamil recipes. This one is from a recipe in Volume 3, and she calls it the Raw Variety of Pulissery.
Once upon a time when I was spending a few weeks in Kerala, I had some cooking classes with a chef from the Leela. What a joy these classes were, with me madly taking notes and taking photos while my beautiful chef cooked and explained, cooked and explained. One of the dishes we cooked was this Okra Masala.
Every now and again I come across some of the notes from those recipes, and, just as I needed it, the scribbled notes on this ladyfinger (okra) curry came to my attention once again. It brought back memories of that beautiful time in Kerala and the amazing food to be found in the Leela, the vegetarian restaurant just up the road, all through Trivanderam and in the other homes and cafes where I ate. Each trip to India has been memorable and this one no less so than any other.
Are you looking for more Okra recipes? Try Okra in Tamarind with Prunes and Apricots, Pickled Okra, Sri Lankan Okra Curry, Sri Lankan Okra in Coconut Milk, Cooking Okra for Sambar, and Spicy Stuffed Fried Okra.
This is another recipe from my cooking session in Kovalam in Kerala. My scribbled notes have recently come to light again – Chef cooked and I helped and observed and tried desperately to copy down the recipes.
This recipe can be made with okra, Indian cucumber, green mango and plantain (green banana), but today we use pineapple. It is easy to make, and so very delicious – I am sure that you will love it.
Pineapple Pulissery is a delicate dish with aromatic flavours of mustard seed, cumin seed and curry leaves with chilli and black pepper. It is from Kerala, that beautiful tropical state on the West Coast of India. Pineapple curry is also a traditional dish from the Sri Lankan cuisine, and there it is also a delightful sweet and spicy curry.
Are you looking for other Pineapple dishes? We don’t cook with it very often so don’t have anything to offer you right now. But check back here in the future – I am sure there will be more.
Would you like more Pulissery dishes? Try Plain Pulissery, Pineapple Pulissery with Green Peppercorns, and Mambazha Pulissery – a sweet and sour Mango dish. Why not also try Crispy Okra in Yoghurt (Pachadi).
Similar dishes include Bhindi Raita.