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Simple and tasty dishes for South Indian New Year

Geet's KitchenPeople of Telugu and Kannada origin will mark ‘Ugadi,’ their New Year on April 8, while Tamilians and Keralites will celebrate respectively ‘Puthandu Dinam’ (New Year’s Day) and ‘Vishu Kani’ on April 14, 2016.

Although I was brought up in Singapore, to instil our culture and tradition, my mother ensured that we celebrated Vishu like we did in Kerala. Interestingly, it is the special food that she used to cook on that day that I vividly remember – a sumptuous vegetarian feast on banana leaf!

Therefore, in this issue, I would like to share four of my favourite Vishu recipes which I make even today for my family: Mango Curry, Crispy Okra, Ginger Chutney and Unniappam.

Note: The recipes serve 4-6 people.

Mango Curry

2 semi-ripe Ecuador Mangoes (available at some supermarkets)
2 green chillies
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1 small knob of ginger
1/2 cup of grated coconut
1 cup of coconut milk (or yoghurt for a sour taste)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
Sprig of curry leaves
1 tsp of mustard seeds
1 dried red chilli broken into pieces
2 tbsp of oil
Water

Method

Peel and slice mangoes

Blend onion, ginger, garlic, chillies and grated coconut in a blender

Place the sliced mangoes and blended mixture into a saucepan with some water

Bring the mixture to a boil

As the mixture comes to a simmer, add salt, chilli, turmeric and cumin powder

After about 20 minutes when mango pieces are cooked and almost mushy, add coconut milk to thicken. Some folks add yogurt but I find that the curry turns rancid very quickly

When the mixture starts to boil again, take it off the flame

Heat a pan with some oil and add mustard seeds. When they are about to pop, add the curry leaves and dried chilli pieces. Turn off the flame.

Pour the sizzling mixture into the mango curry and cover with a lid to ensure the favour infuses.

Serve on rice.

*

Crispy Okra

500-600 gms of Okra (Ladies Finger)
1 tsp of chilli powder
1 tsp of turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 tsp of asafoetida powder
1 tbsp chickpea flour (besan)
1 tbsp rice flour
Oil to fry

Method
Wash and thinly slice Ladies Finger
Add salt, turmeric, chilli and asafoetida
Mix well
Add channa flour and rice flour and coat the slices with it by mixing well
Heat a flat pan with oil
When hot, drop the slices of ladies fingers in the oil in a single layer so that they do not overlap and ensure that the pieces become crisp
When golden and cooked through, drain onto paper towel
Put into an airtight container when cooled down

*

Ginger Chutney (Inji Puli)

200 gms ginger – grated/chopped
1 large onion – chopped fine
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ cup tamarind juice
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
Oil

Method

Heat oil in a pan and fry the onions till golden

Add the grated ginger and fry till golden as well

Add the chilli powder, turmeric powder and salt and mix well

Add the brown sugar and allow the mixture to caramelise before adding the tamarind juice

Taste and ensure the mixture is hot, sweet and sour

When all the liquid dries up and the oil is released from the mixture, remove from flame

This chutney keeps well in the fridge

*

Unniappam

½ cup of rice flour
½ cup of self-rising flour
2 or 3 over ripe bananas – mashed
1 cup of brown sugar
½ tsp of cumin powder
½ tsp of ginger powder
2 tbsp chopped cashews
pinch of salt
water (if necessary)
Oil
Unniappam mould (pan with little semi-spherical depressions) or a regular pan

Method

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl

If the bananas are very ripe, you will not need water to bind the mixture into a thick batter

Heat Unniappam mould or regular pan with oil

Drop a spoonful of the batter at a time into the hot oil

Make sure the flame is gentle or the Unniappam will be golden but uncooked in the centre

Drain on paper towel

Serve warm or cold

Disclaimers: Geetha Nair and Indian Newslink absolve themselves of any responsibility relating to the ingredients, cooking methods and other matters relating to ‘Geet’s Kitchen’ column. Some ingredients may not be available and may cause allergy in some people. Caution must therefore be exercised and Geetha Nair and Indian Newslink will not be responsible to any health issues in this connection. Please consult your General Practitioner, Nutritionist or such others you may be consulting in connection with your dietary requirements.

Notes and Legends: 1. Quantities of sugar and salt are recommendations; please add or reduce to suit individual requirements 2. Tsp: Teaspoon Tbsp: Tablespoon

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