Brinjal Curry

My recipe for february is a recipe from home – a recipe of my mother. This blog has been helpful to myself these past few months, as I have tried out one of my mother’s recipes that I shared here, when I find myself missing home. While I have shared three brinjal recipes of my mother before – katharikkai curry, katharikkai vathakkal and brinjal and green peas curry, today’s recipe is another way my mother cooks brinjal. It is a simple and very easy to make recipe, that I very much like, and is great with rice. Sharing this recipe at the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck #30.
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Today, I would like to share some popular French music from the 60s that I like. Starting with my favourite French singer – Edith Piaf. I started listening to her songs after watching the movie ‘La Vie En Rose’. This clip is one of her more famous songs – Non, Je ne regrette rien (1965).

The other song for today is considered the signature song of Charles Aznavour – La Boheme (1960).

Hope you enjoy the music while you try out this simple curry recipe! Have a lovely weekend!
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Brinjal Curry

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • Brinjal – 1 cup, chopped
  • Green chilli – 1
  • Onion – 1/4, chopped
  • Coconut milk – 1/2 cup (thin) + 1/4 cup (thick)
  • Curry leaves
  • Salt, to taste
  • Lime juice

Method:

  1. Cook the chopped brinjal together with the chopped onion, green chilli and curry leaves in 1/2 cup of thin coconut milk for around 10 minutes. Add salt to taste.
  2. Then add 1/4 cup thick coconut milk and simmer for 5 mins.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in some fresh lime juice.
  4. Serve warm with rice.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan

Pongal

Today (or rather, tomorrow) is Thai Pongal festival celebrated by Tamils around the world. It is a harvest festival celebrated at the end of the harvest season in the tenth month (தை, Thai) of the Tamil calendar and is a festival offering thanks for a bountiful harvest (pongal, which also refers to the sweet rice dish made on that day) and for a prosperous year to come. In Sri Lanka, it is usually celebrated for a day whereas in India, it is a 3 or 4 day festival with a day celebrating the hard work of the cattle in the fields the previous year.

I am re-sharing the pongal recipe that I posted last year.
Pongal

One of my close friends and her family visited me last week which brought back pleasant memories from over a decade ago when I had first met her. So, for today’s music, I would like to feature the songs of a musician from her country that she introduced me to.

The first song is one of Dulce Pontes’ famous songs – Canção do Mar from her album (Lagrimas or Tears, 1993). This song was covered a decade later by Sarah Brightman.

Dulce Pontes contributed to the popular revival of Portuguese folk, Fado, in the 90s. The second song is one such song.

Hope you enjoyed the Portuguese music shared today and that you do try out the Pongal recipe! Happy Pongal!
Pongal

Pongal

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • Rice – 1 cup
  • Roasted split gram (without skin) – ¼ cup
  • Jaggery – 1 cup (grated)
  • Coconut – ½
  • Cardamom – 4 or 5, crushed
  • Cashew nuts – few, chopped
  • Raisins – 1 tbsp
  • Water

Method:

  1. Wash the rice and gram and cook them in a pot with 2 ½ cups of water. Cook for around 15 to 20 mins, till the water dries up.
  2. Grind and extract coconut milk by blending the freshly scraped half of a coconut with 1 cup of water.
  3. Once the rice and gram is cooked, add the grated jaggery and mix.
  4. Then, add the coconut milk and crushed cardamoms. Bring to a boil on high heat and cook for a few more minutes before reducing the heat.
  5. Add the chopped cashew nuts. Cook until the pongal mixture starts coming together and starts to thicken.
  6. Just before removing from heat, add the raisins and mix.
  7. Remove from heat and cover.
  8. Serve pongal with bananas.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Chickpea Curry

During my recent visit to my eldest sister’s house, I remembered to take photos of a couple of tasty curries she had made for lunch with my phone camera. I am bringing one of her curries, chickpea curry, to the Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck #10.

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Over the last few months, I have enjoyed sharing some Sri Lankan and Indian music together with the recipes. I have decided to continue with a musical journey around the globe with the food recipes. Therefore, as today’s music selection, I am sharing a couple of clips from the two I consider the best Sufi singers of this half-century : Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan (1948 – 1997), also referred to as the Shahenshah (meaning King of Kings) of Qawwali and Abida Parveen, who is also known as the Queen of Sufi music.

During my teen years in the U.A.E, I once accompanied my parents to a concert. When the guest singer, who was introduced as Pakistan’s finest musicians starting singing, I immediately recognized the song as the favourite of my Pakistani friends at my new school and which they kept playing repeatedly during lunch breaks.  The song was Dam Mast Qalandar Mast Mast and it was Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s concert. I admit back then I was not fond of qawwali music and it took a while to grow on me. I think I learnt to appreciate it after hearing them sung at Sufi shrines. The atmosphere creates an enhanced listening experience. It is only fitting that I share here the first qawwali song that I was introduced to.

A few years ago, during a brief trip to Delhi, I took a Sufi heritage tour with India Offtrack. Nirad Grover, part of the company’s core team, travel writer and my guide during the tour, recommended that I listen to Abida Parveen. I did that soon after and I have been impressed with her powerful voice since. This clip has been uploaded on youTube by Epic flo films and includes a summary translation of the lyrics at intervals.

Do share your memory of your first introduction to qawwali, if you enjoy listening to Sufi music. And, do let me know if you try out this chickpea curry!

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Kadalai Curry

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: average
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Ingredients:

  • Chickpeas – 2 cups, boiled
  • Cashew nuts – 4 or 5
  • Cinnamon – 1” piece
  • Garlic – 3 or 4 cloves
  • Onion – 1
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Salt – 2 tsp or adjust to taste
  • Turmeric – ¼ tsp
  • Curry powder – 3 tsp or adjust to taste
  • Tamarind juice – ½ cup
  • Potato – 1, boiled and mashed
  • Tomato – 1, chopped
  • Coconut milk – 1 cup
  • Oil

Method:

  1. Lightly fry the cashew nuts with crumbled cinnamon and transfer to grinder.
  2. Add the garlic cloves to the grinder and blend the mix to a coarse paste.
  3. Chop the onion and lightly fry the onion together with curry leaves.
  4. Add the coarse cashew nut paste, salt and turmeric to the pan and mix well.
  5. Add the boiled chickpeas and curry powder to the pan. Mix well.
  6. Then, add the tamarind juice and let the curry cook for a couple of minutes.
  7. Next, add the boiled and mashed potato to the pan and mix.
  8. Add the chopped tomato together with ½ cup of water and cook for a min or two.
  9.  Then, add the coconut milk and cook till the curry consistency is right.
  10. Serve warm with rice or roti.

Capsicum with Eggs

Today’s guest blogger is Refinceyaa Patterson. She mentions that this dish is a creation of her aunt who runs a pre-school in Trincomalee and enjoys cooking. This dish is generally cooked at her home on Sundays or special occasions as it is a favourite of their family.

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Courtesy of Refinceyaa Patterson

In the continuing South Indian movie song theme, today’s featured singer is Sujatha Mohan. She started playback singing while still at school in the 1970s. After a hiatus in her singing for most of the 80s, she became popular again when A.R.Rahman had her sing in several of his songs in the 90s. She won state awards for some of these songs composed by A.R.Rahman.

The first song clip is from the 2007 movie Mozhi (translation: Language).

The second song clip is another live performance, this time of Sujatha and Mano, of the song from Bharathiraja’s movie Kizhakku Cheemaiyile (1993). With music composed by A.R.Rahman, this was the song that made me notice Sujatha as a singer. I guess I am partial to folk tunes.

The last clip is not a song by Sujatha but that of her daughter Shweta Mohan, who started her playback singing career in 2006. In this clip, Shweta was invited for a surprise appearance on the set of a music contest where her mother is one of the judges. She sings a few lines of a poem by Bharathiyar, my mother’s favourite poet.

Hope you enjoyed the voice of Sujatha Mohan and do let me know how this recipe turned out for you!

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Courtesy of Refinceyaa Patterson

Capsicum with Eggs

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 lb (~100g) capsicum
  • 2 potatoes cut into small pieces
  • 1 large tomato
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • curry leaves
  • 1 oz Maldive fish (optional)
  • a teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 dessert spoon oil
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Method:

  1. Wash and cut the capsicum into four slices (lengthwise).
  2. Add salt, turmeric, curry leaves, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and the capsicum slices to a pan together with a little water.
  3. Cover the pan and cook for a few minutes.
  4. When the water dries up, add the oil and the optional Maldive fish to the pan and fry the contents for a few minutes.
  5. Now break the eggs over the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  6. Add a cup of the first extract of coconut milk to the pan.
  7. Bring the curry to a boil and take it off the fire.

Recipe source: Refinceyaa Patterson.

Kokis

Today’s New Year traditional dish recipe is that of Kokis. It is a type of fried cookie which I used to think was typically Sri Lankan. However, during my Indian culinary journey last year, I came across Ruchik Randhap’s Mangalorean cuisine site and there was a recipe for Kokis (referred to in Mangalore as Kokkisan or Rose cookies). One of my friends from Sweden, Malin, then informed me that kokis reminded her very much of the Scandinavian traditional cookies called Rosettes. I guess the cookie found its way to India and Sri Lanka during the Dutch era here.

The only difference in Sri Lanka is that unlike in the rest of the countries where it is a very traditional Christmas cookie, in Sri Lanka it is part of the Sri Lankan New Year food (celebrated primarily by the Buddhists and Hindus in the country) and not part of the Christmas cuisine.

Kokis

Time taken: 1 ½ hours

Makes 35 to 40

KokisIngredients:

  • Rice flour – 500g
  • Turmeric – ½ tsp
  • Coconut milk – 1 cup
  • Water – ½ cup
  • Egg – 1 (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, for deep-frying

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients together to make the batter.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  3. Prepare the kokis mould by placing it in the oil until it is heated.
  4. Plunge the mould into the batter until it is coated and then place it in the oil pan.
  5. Using a skewer or pointed end of a spoon or fork, gently slide the kokis off the mould as soon as it starts to puff up and is easy to slide it off without crumbling it.
  6. Fry the kokis until golden brown and remove from pan.
  7. Repeat the process by heating the mould in the oil for a few seconds before plunging it in the batter. This allows the kokis batter to first coat the mould and then to slide off without sticking to the mould.
  8. Store in an air-tight container.

Recipe source: Lalitha Senadheera.

Konda Kavum

It’s been two weeks since the New Year celebrations. I asked a friend of my mother to share a few recipes of the traditional dishes she made during this time. She shared three of her recipes which I will be sharing this week.

The first is Konda Kavum, a snack my mother is particularly fond of since her childhood.

Konda Kavum

Time taken:  1 ½ hours

Makes 25 to 30 kavum

Konda KavumIngredients

  • Rice flour – 4 cups
  • Brown sugar – 1 cup
  • Vegetable oil margarine – ½ cup (100 g)
  • Coconut milk – 1 1/3 to 1 ½ cups (300 ml)
  • Cardamom – 2 or 3
  • Kithul pani/ palm jaggery treacle – ½ cup
  • Oil, for deep-frying

Method:

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl to make the batter. Set aside for 30 mins so that the ingredients can mix well.
  2. Heat the oil in a pan.
  3. Scoop two tablespoon of the batter into the pan.
  4. Plunge a long stick skewer in the middle of the batter holding it in place.
  5. Turn the batter with the spoon as it gets cooked while rotating the skewer rapidly, like a spinning top but keeping it in one place.
  6. The batter soon puffs out and a tiny mound forms at the center. Continue the rotation until the kavum is fully cooked.
  7. Remove the kavum and place in a tray lined with grease absorbing paper. Repeat the process until the batter is finished.
  8. Store in an air-tight container.

Recipe source: Lalitha Senadheera.

Rasavalli Kilangu Kool

Today is a very special day at my home. It is my mother’s birthday.

After quite some time away from the kitchen, I decided to bake something today and as my mother is a snacker, made a vegan date and walnut loaf and some granola bars.

The recipe I am sharing today is a special treat from Jaffna that my mother made earlier this week. This dish is a special breakfast or dessert dish from north Sri Lanka and made from rasavalli kilangu or purple yam (dioscorea alata).

purple yam

purple yam

 Rasavalli Kilangu Kool/ Purple Yam Porridge

Time taken: 20 mins

Serves 3

rasavalli kilanguIngredients:

  • Rasavalli kilanku/ purple yam – 1 small
  • Thin coconut milk – 1 cup
  • Sugar – 2 or 3 tbsp
  • Salt, a pinch

Method:

  1. Clean and peel the yam and then chop it up roughly.
  2. Cook the yam with 3 cups of water. Once the water dries up, lightly mash the boiled yam.
  3. Add 1 cup of thin coconut milk.
  4. Add 2-3 tbsp of sugar and a pinch of salt to the porridge.
  5. Let the porridge simmer till the liquid  thickens.
  6. Serve warm.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Spicy Ash Plantain Curry

Ash plantain (Saambal Vaalai, as it is called in Tamil) is often used in Sri Lankan and South Indian cuisine. I am not very familiar with the varieties of plantains but as far as I am aware, ash plantain is the more common and popular variety in Sri Lanka and is a cooking plantain.

Today’s recipe is that of an ash plantain curry that my mother quite often makes at home.

ash plantainSpicy Ash plantain Curry

Time taken: 25 mins

Serves 3

Spicy Ash Plantain CurryIngredients:

  • Ash plantain – 2
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • Onion – ½
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Tamarind extract – ½ cup
  • Thin coconut milk – ½ cup
  • Curry powder – 1 ½ tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sugar – 1 tsp
  • Low fat oil – 1 tbsp + more, for light frying

Method:

  1. Peel the ash plantains and slice them.
  2. Lightly fry the ash plantain slices in a little oil. Keep aside.
  3. In a pan, add 1 tbsp oil and sauté the fenugreek seeds, chopped onion and curry leaves for a minute.
  4. Add the lightly fried ash plantain slices to the pan. Mix well and continue stir-frying for another 2 – 3 mins.
  5. Then, add the tamarind extract to the pan, followed by the thin coconut milk and the curry powder.
  6. Season the curry with salt to taste. Mix well and cook the curry for about 10 mins till the gravy thickens.
  7. Just before removing the pan from stove, add a tsp of sugar and mix well.
  8. Serve the spicy ash plantain curry with rice.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Beetroot and Garlic Curry

The recipe of my mother’s that I am sharing today is a fusion of the south and north Sri Lankan cooking. Garlic curry is a specialty of the southern province of Sri Lanka and I hope to soon share the recipe of the dish that I had enjoyed during my several trips along the southern coast. In the meantime, my mother’s experimental cooking has fused her beetroot curry with garlic and has resulted in a quite pleasant, unique curry.

Beetroot and Garlic Curry

Time taken: 20 – 25 mins

Serves 4

Beetroot and Garlic CurryIngredients:

  • Beetroot – ½ cup, chopped
  • Garlic – ¼ cup, peeled and sliced
  • Onion – 2, chopped
  • Coconut milk or water – ½ cup
  • Tomato – ¼ cup, chopped
  • Curry powder – ½ tsp or Green chilli – 1, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • Low fat oil – 1 tbsp

Method:

  1. Heat a tbsp oil in a pan and fry the garlic and onion for a couple of mins.
  2. Add the chopped beetroot to the pan and mix well.
  3. Add the coconut milk or water and salt, to taste.
  4. Add the curry powder or chopped green chilli to the pan and cook for about 15 mins.
  5. When the liquid starts drying up, add the chopped tomato and cook for a further 5 mins.
  6. Serve warm with rice.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.

Sippi Sohi

Today’s Jaffna specialty snack recipe is that of “sippi sohi” (sea-shells). The snack actually resembles sea-shells if made in the traditional way. However, my mother generally makes her own colourful version of the sweet.

DSC00761Sippi Sohi

Time taken: 45 mins

Serves 6 – 8 persons

Sippi SoyiIngredients:

  • Rice flour – 1 cup, roasted
  • Urad dhal/ black gram flour – ¼ cup, roasted
  • Coconut milk – 1 cup
  • Sugar – ¼ cup
  • Water – 4 tbsp
  • Food colouring – optional
  • Oil, for deep-frying

Method:

  1. Combine the roasted rice flour and the roasted urad dhal flour and keep aside.
  2. Heat 1 cup of coconut milk, with a little salt, over medium heat. Once cooked, remove from stove and cool.
  3. When the milk has cooled slightly but is still warm, stir in the rice flour to make the dough.
  4. Roll out the dough and cut into little pieces. Alternatively, the traditional way of squeezing the dough through the mold can be used.
  5. Heat the oil and deep-fry the little pieces “sippi sohi” and transfer the fried pieces to a tray lined with grease absorbing paper.
  6. Prepare the sugar syrup by heating the sugar with water in a saucepan over medium heat.
  7. Food colouring can be added to the syrup, while heating in the saucepan. My mother used red food colouring here to have a colourful twist on the traditional plain syrup.
  8. Soak the fried “sippi sohi” into the sugar syrup till they are well coated and dry up.

Recipe source: Raji Thillainathan.