Friday, June 27, 2008

Not Unholy Combinations

My grandmother, who brought us up, would serve us food which, only much later, I realised, was not the norm. If I was offered milk at someone else's home, I would wrinkle my nose at the smell or taste because it contained sugar, and I grew up thinking tomato sauce was the traditional accompaniment to crisp-edged ootappams. (Naturally, I thought tomato sauce was Indian in origin.) Neither would my grandmother offer salt when curds was served.

Though the main breakfast was traditional, the accompaniments were not. Coconut chutney was rarely served with anything - rava upma was accompanied by some slices of lime or mango pickle, semiya upma with fresh ginger chutney, idli with various spice powders or other chutneys (one's here), dosa with lime pickle - so for me it's really no fun to go in for South Indian food and find myself stuck with coconut chutney and sambar. When we had chapatis for breakfast, thick, well browned, square and well fried, they were accompanied by a sweet and sour onion gravy made with jaggery and tamarind. I don't think we were familiar with the word kurma. My grandfather would eat his chapati with a fried egg, sunny side up, dipping pieces of the chapati in the runny yolk - not something I've done or see myself doing. And pesarattu was never accompanied by upma, its traditional mate.

Though my aunt says they were familiar with it, we were never served poori with sugar. Nor upma, nor idli. Nothing was served with sugar, in fact, and I didn't see this in anybody else's house, either, until I went to college and joined the hostel, in a different State. I was both repelled and fascinated when I saw all conceivable manner of tiffins being downed with sugar, chapatis with jam (which I took to; only, the hostel chapatis were so bad, even jam couldn't redeem them) and bread with pickle (good, a favourite midnight snack). I even spread green chilli pickle on Marie biscuits and made a snack/meal of them at times - they are a great combination but I'm not sure that green chilli pickle is available any more. I guess the only sugary breakfast we had at home was what we called toast - of the French variety. Of course, I thought that was Indian too. No wonder very few of my friends and classmates knew about it.

What unusual combinations are you fond of?

It's funny how what we take for granted at home is completely alien to others. Peanut chutney was never, ever made at home; it's so common in others'. Eggplant is combined with milk and curds in some homes, not so in mine. And I did not notice the amaranth-curds combination till recently in a relative's home, which I took to instantly. I am used to a lot of curd-based dishes with different vegetables, but none with greens. I don't often remember to make this but when I do, I always ask myself why I forget - it's so good. I was flipping through the pages of Cooking At Home With Pedatha recently and was reminded of it. This version is less elaborate than hers and doesn't contain the coconut or the daal that she included in the recipe.

Here's the recipe:
Curds/yoghurt: 3 cups, well churned
Amaranth/thotakoora: Chopped, 2 cups
Tamarind pulp: 1 tbsp
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Green chilli: 1, slit
Curry leaves: A few
Dry ginger powder: 1-2 tsp
Oil: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste

Grind to a fine paste
Coriander: 1/4 cup
Green chillies: 2

Mustard seeds: 1 tbsp
Red chillies: 4, stems removed, broken into two

In a pan, heat the oil and pop the mustard. Lower the flame and add the red chillies.

As they turn colour, add the amaranth. Cover and simmer till well done, stirring now and then.

Add the turmeric, curry leaves, chilli powder and tamarind pulp. Cook for a few more minutes.

Turn off the heat and stir in the curds.

Chill, and enjoy!

This is going off to Siri for her Frozen Yoghurt event.


  1. Sra, I've never given my daughter milk with she's not developed a taste for it. If someone adds sugar to her milk, she keeps sniffing it, 'coz to her, milk is not sweet and yet what she's been given doesn't smell like horlicks/complan either :-)
    Green chilli pickle is a favourite of mine too....I don't think I'll ever try it with biscuits, though....but seriously, pickle and ketchup are two things I can eat with pretty much anything.

  2. I have *never seen amaranth prepared with yogurt. But most of the curd based dishes are quite easy, if you have noticed. I guess when yogurt takes the center stage, everything gets masked in its glory :)

  3. I do have some weird food combinations but my husband's tops the list in the weird category. The combinations are still unfathomable in my mind: He grinds a well shaped murukku in a mixie with sugar and eats the resultant powder, mixes idli podi with sugar, mixes puttu, kadala curry (spicy), sugar, banana and ghee all together and eats it... and so on! :D weird right?

    1. And murukku dipped in coffee is a delicacy in a few parts of Tamil nadu village. Murukku ground with sugar is yummy too. In Jaffna / Yarlppaanam, puttu with sugar / jaggery, sambal and banana is delicacy.

      Your husband is not weird.


  4. Slurp! Drool!! More slurp!!

    Reading about your ajji's menu making me faint with pleasure, YUMMO! How good is that?

    My mom never made or ate eggs or any non-veg at all. Dad and us kids were eating non-veg occasionally but only outside the house.
    My grandparents both sides are all pure vegetarians, no eggs or beetroot because it's red and no outside food or drink when they traveled. CRAZY people! YES! They will outcast me if I tell them what we eat here!:D
    For some reason, I we just can't handle Fish or any seafood at home here. I say "curse of Lingayat mentality, brain surgery or ele shock needed" Hahaha!
    We never ate Uppittu with chutney or sambhar, just yogurt. My mom adds sugar to Upma which I don't, after she learnt from neighbors in Mangalore.
    Pachadi looks yum. I could try but my Amaranth is struggling to grow, too much heat perhaps!

  5. Sra my favorite growing was eating banana after pesarattu I know its weird but I used to love it. Another weird habbit is I have to have tea after lunch right away.

  6. My wierdest food combo my g'mom thinks is unholy is mixing in sugar to the chutney for dosa...

    :D @ your g.father dipping chapathi in egg yolk..Now that should be something!Your way of green chilli on biscuits is err..

    Like your version of this curd-based gravy..

  7. this is in the pedatha book? sounds awesome. and i have everything at hand. gotta try it. i hated yogurt with sugar or anything with sugar as a kid. i'm a sucker for bread and jam, though.

  8. Jayashree, we used to think other people were funny, till we realised we were the funny ones!
    Suganya, yeah, the tamarind takes care of the "grassy" (for lack of a better word) taste of amaranth, and the curds makes it better.
    Laavanya, AAAAHHH! Murukku with sugar? But even as I was saying that, I remembered how I like to alternate a bite of murukku with a bite of peda, and sometimes stud the peda with bits of murukku and eat them together! Haven't done that in a long time as I don't stock all that at home. But idli podi with sugar IS weird, to me too. I know people from Coimbatore and Kerala who eat savoury upma mashed with bananas and sugar, they swear by it!
    Asha, somebody I know visited relatives in the Chittoor district of AP, and came away gagging because they served meat with everything, including idlis and dosas for breakfast! That was a revelation when we were younger!
    Sreelu, a lot of people I know here think it's disgusting to eat banana with curds, but for us it's such a routine thing. Pesarattu with banana ... :)
    Rachel, now that's certainly unusual!!!

  9. Bee, yeah, it's in the yoghurt section - hers is a heavier version, though.

  10. Enjoyed this post. And you couldn't think of something to write? I look forward to your writer's blocks.:)
    My grandfather used to have his upma with yogurt.:( I like mine plain.
    One really weird combination of mine is a dosa dipped in tea!We must all be having nuggets like this in every household.

  11. A dash of tabasco in my buttermilk or lassi. similar to wasabi with mishti doi. Another one is equal portions of mayo and orange marmalade with a slight lean towards mayo, try and stop at a single helping.

  12. This recipe is almost like our morkozhambu, where we grind a little coconut too with the coriander and green chillies.
    As for weird combos my husband can eat idli podi with sugar and sometimes with curd. An aunt loves to eat curd rice with jaggery based payasam.
    A friend of mine has to dip parle g biscuits in water to eat them cos" they taste best that way."
    As you know our favorite at times was marie biscuits with chocolate spread ;) ......
    Good post by the way.

  13. looks delicious sra...coming to wierd combo...jeeves's family has one..avial with brinjal curry!! yikes...for me..if there is rasam..i have to mix it with curd and cousin eats pulav with meetha chutney...not wierd..but no matter what curry is there for puris..i do hog a few with sugar..yum!
    laav! i love to mix molagai podi with sugar..that is the way i eat too..

  14. i hear you on the milk and sugar - i hate sugar with milk!!!

    we don't make coconut chutney either - thogayal with sadam is what we have - imagine poor me having to eat idli and dosa minus avakkai chaaru or milagai podi in these retaurants!!!

  15. Aparna, that's really strange - maybe I wouldn't even have imagined it. The nuggets are emerging now!
    Subhorup, welcome. Wasabi with mishti doi is strange enough but mayo with marmalade? Even hearing about it makes me queasy :)
    Vidya, curd rice with payasam, ohmigod! I eat idli podi with curd, it's good. Yeah, and I remember you Zebochoc experiment all those years ago!
    Rajitha, I don't mind the taste of rasam with curds so much as the looks of it when it's mixed with rice!
    Lakshmi, I don't even like that ghee-ey smell that coats the food in South Indian restaurants. I keep away from it if I can. Was avakkai chaaru a typo or is there something like that?

  16. Even at home my family and friends think I'm weird when I eat spinach alternating it with chocolate sausage.
    Your dish looks fabulous! I'm a big fan of yoghurt and I'm sure it makes a delicious pair with all those flavours.

  17. i never had milk with sugar since a kid, rather no one at my home does....and my MIL always puts it in my milk(unkowningly), I have to drink it in a gulp....

  18. Sra I hate milk with sugar, but my MIL always adds sugar to my milk and I have it with a clip on my nose!!! I can go on about the diff food combinations I've grown up with and at my inlaws home :)

  19. hi sra
    loved the new recipe with a little changeover...amaranth prepared in yougurt....quite interesting and worth trying..will do ....

  20. You want to talk about weird combos? I'll tell you about weird stuff in my family. Pongal and chicken gravy. Dosa/idli with fish gravy, chicken gravy. Rava upma and pickle. Shall I go on?? :)

  21. I like my upma with a banana, a sprinkle of sugar and a pappadam or two.:D

    I can eat parathas with Maggi Hot and is so good! I firmly believe that ketchup makes anything taste better.

    I usually like my dosa/idli podi to be mixed with a little bit of sugar and then of course, the coconut oil.

    I like pooris with jam sometimes... depends on the mood though.;-)

    These are just some of 'em. I cannot for the life of me remember the other ones. I get these from my dad, I guess.:) Weird enough for ya?:D

  22. Our habit of eating each item seperately and not mixing everything with sambar rice is a topic of discussion at our mallu friends' place.One weird exception is mixing chaaru annam with avakai or vice versa, which I do to increase the spice level....:D My aunt eats rava kesari and bobbattu with avakai.

  23. Enjoyed this post.My Fil and MIl have their upma with yogurt.:( I like mine with Pickle.

  24. Lore, welcome! That's certainly unusual, and I've not heard of chocolate sausage, but I can imagine how tasty it must be!
    Bhags, once somebody gave me mango milkshake with a funny taste - it turned out they hadn't cleaned the mixer properly, which had been used to grind adai batter.
    Jyothsna, I'm sure the clip is metaphorical :)
    Anamika, hi, yeah, try it, it's interesting
    Kalai, pongal and chicken gravy is strange, but I remember the recipe on your blog. I've gotten used to the idea of idlis and dosas with non-veg. What I can't digest, still, is somebody telling me about the brinjal gravy (for biriyani) being eaten with bobbattus (sweet polis)!!!
    TBC, the idli podi with sugar AND coconut oil - er ...! The rest not so, tho' I've never tried the upma and banana combo myself.
    Satya, I know, the Tamils and Maloos find it strange, not sure what the Kannadigas do, though. Somebody told me a favourite practice is bobbatlu with vankaya pulusu (for biriyani), kesari and bobbattlu with avakai sound better!
    Sireesha, yeah, I'm aware of this habit - I've tried, didn't like. Prefer it with pickle, like you. :)

  25. Sra, with this post of yours, you have made ppl come out of their shell!!!...gosh reading some of the comments, I am ROFL...I have known ppl who have taken pickle on marie ..and pickle or tomato sauce in ice cream!...that was when we were in college, my friends used to try these just for the heck of it!...hehehe...I think your grand father is a great man!...not everybody can have such taste..seriously!..:)

    pachadi sounds great! though I have never tried this combi!...

  26. Hi Sra, it looks really yummy! I think that in TN, ppl make mor-keerai.....spinach and yogurt based preparation. This sounds a bit similar to that. But it is not very common though. And we LOVE your profile picture :)

  27. Yes, this does look totally yummy, something I'd love to try.

    By the way, I've tagged you for a meme. hehehe! Don't worry, it's optional. Please stop by my blog. ;-)


  28. each to his own!!lol!!this is funny enough to become an event and then everybody's entry can judged as the weirdest combination by popular vote!!i do love upma with sugar and bananas.

  29. sra nice dish..
    you know I have a really weird combo,
    I eat chapatti or puri with tea,butter and pickle mixed together.

  30. In the U.S. many are fond of chocolate milk, but I can't abide the stuff. That's not to say I eschew all sweet dairy treats, like pudding or ice cream. Go figure.

    As far as funky combos, I have been known to binge on chips (salty) followed by the sweetest bar chocolate, followed (again), by chips. Need I tell you it's only at that "time of the month?" : D

  31. Greens and yogurt combination is not that common at my house either, though there are some dips I make with mint and coriander and yogurt...I think I have a few food combos that some people might found weird - like having chapati with fish curry, its not too weird right? Guess I am quite normal when it comes to food habits :)

  32. Valli, you know what we call Goldspot Sweet - that orange, hard-boiled candy that came in a striped orange and white wrapper? My brother ate that with curd rice once. I once ate ice cream with salt and pepper, just for the heck of it, but I must say ice cream with sauce makes my stomach churn.
    A&N, thanks. I hope you clicked on it and saw it in detail and appreciated all the finer points - I drew it myself! :)
    Paz, thank you. Will try to do the meme.
    Mallugirl, I didn't think of a vote but I was wondering if I should do a round-up post.
    N33MA, that's really strange!
    Susan, LOL! That can even be a handy excuse, you know.
    Sig, it all sounds quite normal to me. Chapati with fish curry doesn't sound strange at all.

  33. In my house i love to have upma with pickle while my husband likes to have upma with sugar. I love curd rice with pickle alone but my hubby wants some curry along with curd rice. u wont beleive my mom likes to add mixture to coffee ...
    Sometimes i make keerai pachidi which sounds similar to ur dish but i dont add tamarind to it.

  34. fried chapati for brkfst sounds good :) love all yogurt based dishes and still need my plain yogurt with my meals ;) can 'never' hv those so called fruit on the bottom yogurt w/ 12T sugar though!!

  35. Sra...Come and get what I left for you on my blog :)

  36. Prema, mixture with coffee? That's unusual, certainly!
    Richa, yes, I always think of those yoghurts as dessert!
    Rachel, thanks.

  37. Pickle and Marie, now that reminded me of my hostel days too. It's a pity hostel chapathis were too bad, in mine the idlis were rock hard!

    I have a cousin who eats Puran Poli with Yoghurt (gagging!)

    We add jaggery in almost all of the dishes we make, including the sambars, rasama et al. My friends consider that weird as ever! :D

  38. Namratha, we don't add jaggery to sambar and rasam but we do add it to pulusus (tamarind gravies), and to bittergourd :)

  39. Yo ladies, you are not abnormal.I know in Chennai many people eat
    - Idli podi with sugar for both thosai and idli
    - Upma & pickle
    - Idli / Thosai with non-veg curry (Madurai is known for some meat thosai).

    We are very normal. It is just we did not know most of us do that.

    I used to eat puttu (white) with sauce.

    Puttu, sambal, banana and sugar / jaggery (sometimes cheese) is very common in norther part of Sri Lanka.