Very often, though, I find myself turning to Aharam which is a nice combination of the traditional cuisines of Tamil Nadu. It also makes an effort to highlight the non-Brahmin vegetarian cuisine of the State, unlike many books on vegetarian South Indian cuisine, known and little known, which seem to say vegetarian and Brahmin cuisine is one and the same thing.
"Indeed, the non-Brahmin vegetarian cuisine from Tamil Nadu is totally different from the delicious sambhars, kootus and poriyals that are part and parcel of Brahmin diets. Most of the curries with green masala, red masala and pepper masala double as vegetarian curries, potatoes being added instead of meat, accompanied by any other vegetable of your choice, like knolkhol, carrots, beans, cabbage or peas."
There are some interesting recipes in this book. Snake gourd cutlets, for instance. Radish-chickpea curry, another. I've never made those. I've tried out some non-vegetarian recipes but not too many, because many of them call for coconut. Which I do not have on call. And I am lazy. Unless I find it ready-shredded. Then I am just a little less lazy about grinding it to a paste. Aside over, yesterday, I made this Kaikari Pulav (Vegetable Pulav) with my own twists and departures - it brought back my rice-eating days to me and made me feel accomplished, if not tired, because I slaved over it for 90 minutes.
That is nothing to do with the recipe, but everything to do with my small kitchen. Have you ever felt hampered by the lack of space in your kitchen? I have to shift things around everyday to be able to find space for the chopping board, the various bowls, water bottles, the spice jars ... ugh!
Anyway, here's my version of the original recipe.
Rice (I used a mixture of Basmati and ordinary): 1.5 cups
Potatoes, cubed: 2 cups
Peas: 1 cup
Shallots, chopped: 10
Big onion, chopped: 1
Grind to a paste
Cinnamon stick: 1.5-inch
Cardamom seed: from 4 pods
Green chillies: 4
Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tbsp
Fennel seed: 1 tsp
Poppy seed: 2 tsp
Ghee: 2 tsp
Bay leaf: 1 big or 2-3 small
Oil: 2 tsp
Mint: 2 tbsp (I used the spicy mint chutney that I had)
Chopped coriander leaves: 3 tbsp
Salt to taste
Clean and wash the rice. Soak it in water.
Heat the oil and ghee in a pressure cooker and season with bay leaves.
Add onions and shallots and fry till they are a light brown.
Add the ground masala and fry for a few minutes on low heat. Add the mint chutney and coriander leaves.
Add 3 cups of water, mix well and add the salt. Add drained rice and vegetables. Close the cooker and after the first couple of whistles, turn down the heat and let cook for 4-5 minutes.
The author suggests a garnish of boiled and halved eggs and fried cashew nuts and coriander leaves, and to serve it with a raita and egg curry. She also prescribes some chilli powder, turmeric and coriander powder in the 'grind to a paste' list which completely skipped my eye. We enjoyed the outcome though, and it was spicy without being hot, spicy without causing heartburn.
Weekend Herb Blogging Curds/Yoghurt Gluten-free Potatoes