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Sunday, 8 January 2012

From my kitchen diary part iv

Today  we had Sambaar and rice for lunch. My daughter-in-law's mother,  who   is  staying with us  for the last few days,was surprised at the quality of the Sambaar.She is a connoisseur of cooking.She prepares delicious  food.Edhthiamma,as I address her, could not believe that the sambaar was cooked without coconut.I told her that it was Punjabi  or, let us say, a North Indian version of sambaar. The Sambar,  though not as perfect as she makes, was quite good and could pass muster from any quarters.This incident  set me thinking.
 Born and brought up as a Punjabi, I married a Malyali boy from Kerala.I had no knowledge of cooking even  North Indian food. Cooking South Indian food was thus far from the domain  of my thinking.It goes to the credit of my husband  that he adjusted  very well to North Indian food  and never complained.I have a sneaking  suspicion  that  in fact he was enjoying it.I however felt I must introduce Kerala cooking in our kitchen.Thus started the fusion or should I say confusion between north and south Indian style of cooking. I adapted quite a number of recipes from Kerala to Punjabi method of preparation. The main difference between the cooking of both regions is that whereas in the North  emphasis is laid  on thorough  roasting of  onion/tomato and ginger/garlic paste, in the south the importance of boiling the basic ingredients  and garnishing it  with  coconut is of utmost importance.Since there was time constraint,I managed to cook  the vegetables without any add-ons using only the traditional tempering with mustard seeds and curry leaves.I am giving below the recipes of some of the Kerala dishes  which have been adapted in Punjabi style  and still  taste  good.I don't claim that they taste better ,but  I  can safely state that they come very near to the  original.I will start  with Sambaar.
1.Tur dal(arhar dal)  1/2 cup
2.Any vegetable can be used,(popular ones are onions tomatoes, white ash gourd, brinjals, drumsticks)
3.Tamarind-- size of a medium lemon soaked in 1/2 cup of water.
4.Asafoetida powder --  1/4th tea spoon
5.Sambaar powder-- 2 table spoons full
6.Mustard seeds -- 1/2 teaspoon
7 Curry leaves--  one or two twigs
8 Coriander leaves finely chopped 2 spoons
9 Salt
10.Cooking oil for tempering--  two teaspoons 

Method---- Boil the Tur dal  in a pressure cooker along with  salt,a  few curry leaves and asafoetida. In a separate pan boil the vegetables,chopped in medium size....When the vegetables are nearly cooked add  tamarind solution and sambaar powder and boil for a few minutes.Now add this to  cooked dal. Stir well and boil  for  one or two minutes.Before removing add the coriander leaves.The Sambaar consistency  should be  neither too thick nor too thin.For tempering,  heat two teaspoons oil add mustard seeds.When  they start  spluttering add curry leaves and pour  on the Sambaar. and mix well.Edethiamma was amused  by the method by which the Sambaar was prepared.I told her that it was a north Indian version. In Kerala Sambaar coconut  is used and  instead of Sambaar powder  fresh powder is prepared.
The second recipe is  for making Olan..This dish  is  very simple to  prepare..

1.Pumpkin             1 kg. chopped  in medium size rectangles
2.Onions                2 medium size-- length-wise thinly sliced
3.Green Chillies    4 or 5  length-wise cut.
4.Ginger                1 small piece thinly cut.
5.Small red lentils {optional)  1 handful
6.Curry leaves         two twigs. 
7.Butter                    1 table spoon
In a pan boil the  lentils till half  cooked.Add   pumpkin ,green chillies, ginger  salt  and curry leaves  and boil till the pumpkin is done.Ensure that it is not over cooked. The consistency of water should be thick. Add   butter and remove from the fire. Goes very well with  rice.In Kerala, coconut milk is used instead of water.
       The next recipe is for Masala Curry. Whereas in Kerala the main ingredient  is  the  potato I have replaced it with  mutter  (peas).The method of preparation is the same as Sambaar.The only difference is that in mutter masala curry neither dal nor tamarind is used.The  other ingredients and method of preparation remain the same. Needless to state that in potato  masala curry coconut is also used.
                I make Stew  which, if made in traditional Kerala style is  very time  consuming,as it requires to extract milk from coconut. I distinctly remember that  a Malayali friend advised me to substitute  ordinary  milk instead of labouring  to extract milk from coconuts.
I started making Stew with plain milk.Adding Paneer
1.Potatoes  3 medium size cut into small pieces
2.Onions      3 medium-- Sliced length-wise
3. ginger.      a small piece cut into small pieces
4. Green chillies 5to6 cut length-wise
5.coconut milk   200ml (available in the market)
6. curry leaves   2 twigs
Method:    Boil all the ingredients in water and  half of the coconut milk.When the potatoes are done lower the heat and allow the stew simmer for 3to4 minutes.Just after removing from the fire add the other half of the coconut milk and and butter. Tastes good with Idli,Dosai and rice.Instead of potatoes you can add  boneless marinated chicken.
   I  wish to  mention here that Upma too has been converted into a North Indian dish. In Kerala traditional homes no vegetables are added. In the North  we add quite a number of veggies like peas,carrots, beans and potatoes which enhance the taste and also makes the upma look colourful and attractive.Without  dwelling on the conversion of Dosa into  a  North Indian version this article will not be complete. In Kerala Dosa is mainly eaten plain, in the North several fillings have been invented.Potatoes are widely used as filling.The flight of imagination of the human mind has entered new 
chapters in the history of fillings for the Dosa.These are Egg dosa, Paneer Dosa, Dry fruit Dosa and even Keema Dosa.
      Even though that was not my intention , Edathiamma  might have left confused.I may add that these  recipes  will not disappoint anybody who ventures into this cooking.

1 comment:

  1. very interesting account buaji....I am surely going to try your recipe. I love your description of Upma and the variety of dosa fillings....I had no idea that the South Indians eat only plain dosas :)