It was a myth widely circulated in the 80s that coconuts are the main sources of cholesterol-causing artery blocks. So my mother preferred to reduce the use of coconut meat greatly, used coconut milk sparingly, and stopped using coconut oil once for all. But my grandmothers continued to use coconuts profusely, and they found a dish insipid if coconut meat is scantily added into it. In those days, coconut meat was used in almost every vegetable preparation, coconut milk was used for making scrumptious payasam, and coconut oil for frying crunchy snacks like thattai, murukku, banana chips, etc. We relished theeyal mostly in our grandmother’s house as this recipe calls for good lashings of coconut meat fried in coconut oil.
I have been receiving complimentary reviews from unexpected people who are away from homeland for their studies or jobs preparing their meal themselves by looking at videos or by reading recipes. I sincerely thank all those visitors for their support & feedback. Now I am posting a recipe for vegetable kurma, a one-pot recipe, preferred by such busy bees who are unable to spend much time for cooking.
Idli with ketti chutney is a popular street food among bachelors who miss their home-cooked food for breakfast. Both my grandmothers prepared ketti chutney (meaning thick chutney) every day. It tastes delicious when served with spongy idli/ dosa. Nowadays we don’t prepare this chutney often, and we prefer to make a simple coconut chutney that does not require any tempering.
Thoothuvalai (Solanum trilobatum) is a quickly spreading herb usually props up in our surroundings after a good spell of rain. It is a medicinal plant used in Indian medicines Ayurveda & Siddha to treat respiratory problems like asthma, cough, cold & flu. So we can add these herbs into our diet during winter or monsoon. Here I have prepared thoothuvali chutney that can be used often for breakfast.
Sodhi is an exotic Sri Lankan curry prepared with lentils and vegetables stewed in coconut milk. Although sodhi is not a spicy curry, it has grown popular among the people living in & around Tirunelveli who usually enjoy spicy curries. The banana leaf platter served at our family wedding feasts is a lavish spread of creamy sodhi, pungent inji pachadi, spicy potato fries, crunchy appalam, scrumptious coconut milk dessert (payasam), sweet boondhi and fresh curd as shown below. Wedding in our family is usually hosted by bride’s family. However bride’s family is treated with a sumptuous meal (maruveetu sappadu) with sodhi the day after marriage, and it is a unique custom prevalent here to signify the confluence of both the families.
Idli Milagai podi is an indispensable condiment in every south Indian’s pantry. I find idli podi satisfying only when I feel the coarse grits inside my mouth. Hence I prefer to use the gritty home-made podi over the powder-like store-bought idli podi. We use roasted rice for its sandy texture, roasted asafoetida & raw garlic for the wonderful aroma that brings everyone to the kitchen while grinding idli podi.
Mushroom masala is a healthy and also a hearty dish that can be sandwiched between toasted bread slices or served as a side for rice & roti. Since I have spiced mushroom masala up with pepper & ginger and avoided using chillies, it can be served to people who can not bear the heat of chilli particularly to kids.
We can prepare restaurant-style Green Chutney easily at home using mint leaves or coriander leaves. A pleasant green chutney with a burst of flavors will surely make anyone salivate. Hence we can also serve this as an appetizer for kids or sick people who refuse to take food. It is heavenly to take soft idli or crispy dosa along with green chutney, red chutney (tomato chutney), hkjhkhd white chutney (coconut chutney) & sambar for breakfast.
Shallot chutney also known as chinna vengayam chutney is a traditional chutney mainly prepared for young girls & pregnant women in our family. Shallots contain flavonoids that have powerful antioxidant properties, and they are also useful for improving emotional health & heart health. Other ingredients in this chutney are curry leaves & black grams. Curry leaves are rich sources of iron & folic acid and hence good for pregnant women. Black gram lentils contain calcium & other minerals required to increase the bone density, and hence useful for old women.
Green peas masala is a creamy Indian curry particularly enjoyed by children as it does not have sharp pungent flavors. Nevertheless, this scrumptious curry meets the dietary requirements of children; the protein in green peas ensures their growth, shallots give them the immunity from disease causing germs and fresh coriander leaves loaded with iron make them active.
Horsegram or kollu is a humble yet power-packed bean with amazing health benefits. Generally horsegram is recommended by Ayurvedic practitioners for weight loss, to control cholesterol, treat jaundice & menstrual problems and also to keep us warm during winter. The best way to include horsegram into our diet is by adding a teaspoon of horse gram idli powder (kollu podi) into a cup of buttermilk as it helps to reduce the body heat generated by horse gram.
According to people living in Tirunelveli kichadi is a side dish for idli or dosa prepared with vegetables, but for others kichadi is a main dish using whole grains and/or lentils. Kathirikai kichadi (brinjal/ eggplant gothsu) is one of our favourite accompaniments for idli & dosa. It is a very unique gothsu with spicy and tangy flavors. We usually prepare this delicious side dish for breakfast on Sundays.
Vallarai keerai (Centella Asiatica) is an amazing herb used by Indian pharmacologists to prepare a food supplement to improve the memory beneficial to children who are preparing for competitive exams and also to old people suffering from diminished memory. Nevertheless it is better to include such fresh herbs into our diet rather than taking them in capsule form. So we can make vallarai thuvaiyal at home to enjoy its benefits naturally. I personally found a significance difference when vallarai keerai thuvaiyal was served frequently to my father and also to my son.
Every South Indian’s culinary journey begins with making simple coconut chutney because we all take this dish every day. Our breakfast platter is incomplete without the addition of creamy white chutney. We simply prepare coconut chutney by grinding fresh coconut meat & chillies and serve with most of the South Indian breakfast dishes.
Sambar is the most popular side dish for idli, or dosa typically prepared by south Indians, others used to feel that their sambar is not as delicious as the one prepared by south Indians. Here I have shared a fail-safe recipe for making delicious sambar which is a perfect accompaniment for idli, masal dosa, vennpongal, kichadi, or medhu vadai.