Monthly Archives: November 2011

Urulai Kizhangu Poriyal/Potato Dry Curry

Potato is certainly a versatile vegetable.  In gravies and stews,  sandwiches and pies, dosais and parattas,  fried and baked, sometimes even in combination with meat – it fits in anywhere and everywhere like the all-in-one daughter-in-law of mother-in-law’s choice! The all time favourite urulai poriyal of Tamilnadu is usually one of the dry vegetables served on the vaazhai ilai. (for ilai sappadu or banana leaf feast meal see –

Initially, whenever I made urulai poriyal, the glowy, brownish colour that is usually relished in feast meals or restaurant thalis used to be missing. I felt too much oil must be needed to bring the same texture and colour and not ready to use excess oil, accepted defeat. Then, one day, amma told the secret behind it and now I can make urulai poriyal – with the same colour and glow.. hurrah!

Urulai Kizhangu Poriyal/ Potato Dry Curry 



Ingredients (serves 3)

  • urulai kizhangu/potato – 250 gms
  • onions – medium 2 no.s
  • garlic – 3 cloves (optional)
  • turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • red chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
  • coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • salt – as needed 
  • oil – 2 tbsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • ulundahm paruppu/urad dal – 1 tsp
  • curry leaves – a few
  • perungayam/asafoetida – a pinch

Method of Preparation

  1. Cook potatoes in a pressure cooker or microwave till just done
  2. Peel and cut into small pieces and keep aside
  3. Peel, wash and finely chop garlic and onions
  4. Heat oil in an iruppu chatti/kadai, add mustard seeds and let it splutter
  5. Add urad dal and when it turns golden brown add curry leaves
  6. Add chopped garlic and onions and fry
  7. Now, add all dry powders – turmeric, red chilli and coriander and fry a bit – This step gives the brownish colour the dry curry
  8. Do not over fry – this might take away the true spicy flavour of the powders
  9. Add the cooked and cut potatoes and mix well
  10. Add salt as per taste
  11. Cook in medium for 5 minutes; Keep stirring with care to bring the potatoes in the bottom of the kadai to top – this helps in even colouring and blending of spice powders
  12. When poriyal reaches golden brown colour, sprinkle asafoetida and mix well
  13. Serve hot garnished with coriander leaves
  14. Tastes best with Rice and any Kuzhambu (




  1. Red chilli powder can be altered as preferred
  2. Garlic is believed to reduce the gastric problems potatoes tend to give –  and also gives a nice flavour to any curry.. but can be avoided if not preferred.
  3. Onions are also optional too.

Thengai Pal Meen Kuzhambu/Fish Curry with Coconut Milk

After a few years of cooking not so good meen kuzhambu/fish curry or not as good as mother-in-law’s fish curry, this one came as a respite. This fish curry never flopped – might be because of the coconut milk added. Thengai Pal means Coconut Milk in tamil and thengai pal gives an exotic flavour to any curry or payasam, no doubt. 

Meen Kuzhambu holds a special place in Tamilnadu cuisine.  Fresh fish curry is not served immediately and is considered better in taste the next day. The fish is left to absorb the flavour of tamarind with spices till the next day -not in the refrigerator please! I have seen my mother-in-law cook fish kuzhambu specially in a man chatti – earthen pot and leave it till next day. Though I don’t wait till the next day, at least three to four hours of waiting time after the curry is done is advisable.

While traditional Meen Kuzhambu would follow in the near future, this kuzhambu is something for the buffet table I would say. Frozen fish fillet also suits this and in fact, I find fillet tastes best in this kuzhambu/gravy.  Ingredients needed to make this kuzhambu are also easily available in the market – especially not much of spice grinding involved for those ‘quick cooks’!

For those new entrants to the world of non-vegetarianism (quite recently like me) and those who find tasting, consuming and especially cooking fish a troublesome issue, this kuzhambu would be easy work. Might be useful for non-cook husbands too – to introduce their wives to the fish world! Now, let’s plunge into making thengai pal meen kuzhambu.

Here, Tilapia Fish is used as it tastes better. I also use Panga Fish fillet got from the fish store.  But, feel free to use any kind of fish you love.

Thengai Pal Meen Kuzhambu/Coconut Milk Fish Curry



Ingredients (serves 2)

  • Meen – Any fish/fish fillet – 250 gms
  • fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • garlic – 5 cloves
  • chinna vengayam/shallots – 8 nos. or big onion – 1 no.
  • tomatoes – 2 no.s
  • tamarind – lemon sized ball
  • red chilli powder – 2 tsp
  • coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • salt – as needed
  • coconut milk – 1 cup (canned or freshly extracted)
  • any cooking oil – 2 tsp
  • For Tempering
  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 2 tsp 
  • mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • curry leaves – a few


 chinna vengayam/shallots and poondu/garlic


Method of Preparation

  1. Soak tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes. Take the juice and keep aside
  2. Peel the skin of garlic, wash and keep aside
  3. Chinna vengayam or shallots always taste good in any fish curry – just peel the skin, wash and keep aside. If one uses big onion, peel, wash and cut to four pieces.
  4. Heat 1 tsp oil in an iruppu chatti/kadai
  5. Fry 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, garlic and onions in oil
  6. When they turn golden brown, add tomatoes and let them become soft
  7. Cool and blend well
  8. Heat remaining 1 tsp cooking oil in an iruppu chatti, and pour in the blended mixture
  9. Add tamarind juice, red chilli powder, coriander powder and salt and bring it to boil
  10. Let it boil to make a semi-thick gravy. Once fish is added, the gravy would become thinner/watery. Hence, it is advisable to make a thick gravy and then add fish to it
  11. Once the fish is cooked, pour in the coconut milk and cook in medium position for 5 minutes
  12. Tempering with gingelly oil enhances the taste of any south indian kuzhambu. Heat 2 tsp gingelly oil in a separate chatti; Add mustard seeds – when they splutter add curry leaves
  13. Pour this into the meen kuzhambu and serve hot
  14. Thengai Pal Meen Kuzhambu tastes best with Rice.




  1. Red chilli powder can be altered as per taste
  2. Tamarind pulp available in shops can also be used – add water and make a pourable consistency
  3. Meen Kuzhambu is cooked in nallennai or gingelly oil. If it is not available, one can use any cooking oil.

Grilled Sandwiches without grill

On a weekend morning, when I wanted to serve something quick and simple with coffee – but a hot one in the -1 degree chillness outside – an old-time favourite came to my mind. This is not a traditional one, but something which was not a usual ‘complete meal’ in conservative households when I grew up; might have been a foreigner food those days – surely not anymore!  They are the ‘Sandwiches’!  In my school or college days, a request to invest in a sandwich maker/sandwich griller did not have an encouraging outcome. But making one – not only tasty but hot, crispy outside with a flavourful filling inside used to be very interesting. Like chinese, continental or any other food made the Indianised way – sandwiches are also Indianised, sometimes south Indianised! Fusion music and fusion cooking cannot be avoided you see. Even in the dosai varieties, apart from the usual masala dosa, the stuffing inside the dosais can be of numerous varieties – paneer dosai, paneer-capsicum dosai, cauliflower dosai, manchurian dosai and so on and on and on -non stop.

The same way, the filling inside sandwiches can also vary – anything from fresh vegetables to left over cooked vegetables – especially spicy. If left over dry vegetable is not spicy, a spread of spicy coriander chutney would fit very well as a spread instead of butter/margarine. But wait – this post is not about the filling and preparation of sandwiches – but in the method of making grilled sandwiches without a sandwich maker/sandwich griller. One of my aunts settled in Pune,  a beautiful city in the state of Maharashtra taught me this way (a wonderful cook herself – an expert in home-made bhelpuris to pizzas)! Thankyou Chithi (Aunt)!

Coming back to my need for a hot grilled sandwich – I put my sandwich griller aside and came to the stove to make a grilled sandwich without a grill. A cast iron pan serves best – it holds heat and grills evenly.  This is how I did it –


  • brown bread – 2 slices
  • butter/margarine – 1 tsp
  • potato curry/any other dry vegetable – enough to spread on the slice

Method of Preparation

1. Fill bread with potato curry or any preferred filling with or without cheese

2. Heat a cast iron pan on the stove

3. Grease with 1/2 tsp margarine

4. Place the filled in bread slices on pan

5. Spread 1/2 tsp margarine on the top slice



6. Press it well



7. When it is lightly toasted on one side – turn it



8. Cover with a lid/plate which exactly closes the slice 



9. Place a heavy utensil/pan/stone – anything which would press the sandwich well



10. In sim position, let it be grilled for 2-3 minutes – check at this point



11. The side facing the fire would be evenly brown and crisp

12. Cut it to halves and serve.


If one prefers to make grilled sandwich in a sandwich maker/griller, please go for it!

Mullangi Kuruma/Raddish Kuruma

This is a spicy kuruma I learnt from one my very good friends in Bangalore. Though she makes this better than me, I am not that bad a learner. This goes well with idlis, dosais, aapams, chapatis and rice too! Some children might not like the pungent smell and taste of radish – even grown ups. This is a better way to make them enjoy the goodness of radish.

For some health tips on radish –

White Radish is also called Japanese radish, Oriental radish, Chinese radish, lo bok and Mooli. It is a mild flavoured, very large, white East Asian radish.


Radishes are very low-calorie root vegetables.  They are very good source of anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber. Fresh Radishes are rich in vitamin C.  Vitamin C is a powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant required by the body for synthesis of collagen. Vitamin C helps body scavenge harmful free radicals, prevention from cancers, inflammation and helps boost immunity. In addition, they contain adequate levels of folate, vitamin B-6, riboflavin, thiamine and minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and calcium.  (


Mullangi Kuruma/Mooli-Radish Kuruma


the coconutty kuruma



  • mullangi/radish – 500 gms
  • garlic – 5 cloves
  • vengayam/onion – 1 no. (big)
  • tomatoes – 2 no.s
  • grated fresh coconut/desiccated coconut – 3 tbsp
  • turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • red chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • garam masala – 1 tsp
  • salt – as needed
  • water – 1 cup
  • oil – 2 tsp
  • coriander leaves to garnish



Method of Preparation

  1. Cut mullangi/radish into long pieces
  2. Cut onions and tomatoes into big pieces and keep them separately
  3. Heat one teaspoon oil in a kadai
  4. Fry garlic cloves and cut onions till golden brown
  5. Add grated coconut and fry well
  6. Add cut tomatoes and fry till they are soft and pulpy
  7. Blend into a paste and keep aside
  8. Take one tea-spoon oil in a pressure cooker, add the paste and fry a bit
  9. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala and salt and fry well
  10. Since only one teaspoon oil is used to fry, keep stove in sim position – otherwise it might get burnt
  11. Add cut radish and mix well
  12. Add water and check salt
  13. Cook in high flame till first whistle; Simmer and cook till one more whistle and turn off stove
  14. Garnish with coriander leaves and Kuruma is ready to be served.


kuruma with groundnut



  1. Coconut can be substituted with groundnuts – 1/2 cup roasted ground nuts can be added while blending fried garlic, onion and tomatoes.
  2. Groundnuts give a glowy oily texture to the kuruma
  3. For the calorie conscious – no coconuts, no groundnuts – omit these and pressure cook. When the kuruma is done, add 1/2 cup milk/skimmed milk to give it a creamy consistency. 

Basic Wheat Cake/Atta Cake

This is another cake with just the basic ingredients. Flour, sugar, butter and eggs are the basic ingredients in any cake. Here again, the all purpose flour is substituted with wheat flour; brown cane sugar in place of white sugar and  cooking oil is used instead of butter. I wanted to bake this cake without eggs – but my daughter who loves the beating part in cake making, insisted using egg. So, egg is used.

This cake does not need much beating. Just mixing one ingredient after the other is enough. It is very quickly done.




  • wheat flour – 1 cup/100 gms
  • sugar – 3/4 cup/75 gms
  • oil – 1/2 cup – 50 ml
  • egg – 1 no.
  • yoghurt/curds – 3/4 cup
  • baking powder – 1/2 tsp
  • baking soda – 1/2 tsp
  • vanilla extract – 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. In a wide bowl, beat egg and sugar – enough to melt sugar
  2. Powdered sugar can also be used for easier melting
  3. Add oil and vanilla extract and mix
  4. Mix baking soda and baking powder with gothumai maavu/wheat flour/atta
  5. Start adding flour little by little to egg, sugar, oil mixture
  6. The batter would be thick half way – now add little yoghurt to set right the consistency
  7. Add all the flour and yoghurt to bring batter to thinner consistency
  8. Grease a baking pan and dust it with a light coating of flour
  9. Pour the batter into the pan
  10. Preheat oven at 200 degrees centigrade and bake for 30 minutes
  11. Check at 30 minutes with a tooth pick – if it comes out clean, cake is ready
  12. Depending upon the oven, it might take another 10 minutes too – so it is better to check at 30 minute point
  13. Remove from oven and let it cool to serve.


  1. It is again a small cake with less sugar
  2. Double it for a bigger cake and quantity of sugar can be added if needed.


Kozhi Thokku/Chicken Thokku

This is my first non-vegetarian recipe. Born in a vegetarian family, married into a non-vegetarian family, a cook in true spirit, I am now a non-vegetarian – who likes to experiment on chicken, fish and lamb dishes but would prefer a vegetarian diet for myself. 

As a teenager, though I had tasted chicken secretly (inquisitive to know what it tasted like) with cousins (of course our parents know it all now), bringing meat home and cooking was not an acceptable thing initially.  When I was married I was a complete vegetarian – not even eggs were allowed!  Times have changed since then.

These are some of the reasons why I continue cooking non-vegetarian food –

1. When I started cooking non-veg. food, I found that chicken and lamb struck very well with any masala and gave remarkable results. So, not knowing anything about the intricacies of speciality non-veg. cooking of Tamilnadu, I used (and still use) the same methods of cooking vegetarian spicy dishes and was successful too.

2.  Initially when I started hosting – I could sense that the buffet table was kind of incomplete without the non-vegetarian dish. Even with a lavish spread of vegetarian items, one non-veg. dish did some unexplainable magic.

3. Especially when kids were invited, they were delighted or (if I sound too self-praising) – they were satisfied with rice and chicken  or rice and lamb curry. This made it easier for parents too.

4. This one I think should have topped the list. When my husband introduced me to his well wishers as his newly wed wife, while they welcomed me into the set-up, they expressed their concern about the taste buds of the man of the house and his survival without  chicken, lamb or fish at least once a week. Wherever I was invited, even people whom I met for the first time, took so much care to make me understand how difficult it was to live without chicken and fish, more difficult to live with a wife who wouldn’t cook all those humble curries and the most difficult – to ask (request?!) the newly wed wife to cook some chicken curry where the man knows nothing about cooking!

5. Of course reason no.4 did not make me cook chicken curry – but I must confess – the nature of my husband to forgo non-vegetarian food to make me comfortable made me try this in full swing and I remember I cooked a simple lamb curry and rice as a surprise lunch (taught by one of those friends).  How bad he felt to have put me in such a terrible situation cooking something alien and the big lecture I received on that are different episodes of the story!

It was first ‘cooking for friends but not tasting technique’;  Then came, ‘tasting the gravy to serve but not eating technique’; Then, there was enlightenment – cooking, tasting, eating and more cooking, tasting and eating! It is a stress free life now!

So, ‘forgoing non-veg. food for vegetarian wife technique’ did it all!! 

So, the first call I made was to my mother-in-law and told her I started cooking non-veg. at home.  A very caring mom-in-law that she still is, told me to stop. Though she was happy for her son, she didn’t want me to take the trouble as I grew in a vegetarian family – she didn’t want my parents to feel bad too. Like a true enlightened soul, I stuck to my new Principle. Since then, she has been my special tutor in non-vegetarian studies – especially in the art of cleaning and marinating meat and the special fish kuzhambu – which I have not perfected even after so many years.

So, now to some cooking –

Kozhi Thokku/Chicken Thokku

Thokku can be a thick  gravy or a thick paste. With medium or high level spice, this can go well with rice, chappatis or idli/dosas. Unlike chutneys which are ground to pastes and served immediately, thokkus are cooked for a long time to make it a pasty consistency – and are quite filling too. There can be vegetarian and non-vegetarian thokkus. They can also be stored for at least three days due to the thickening process involved. Certain pickles are made in the thokku form and can be stored for months.

This chicken thokku is an aromatic,  flavourful dish – simple and easy to cook too.

Ingredients (serves 2 persons)

  • kozhi/chicken – 400 gms
  • oil – 2 tbsp
  • chopped coriander leaves – to garnish

Finely chop –

  • ginger – small piece
  • garlic – 4 cloves
  • onions – medium size – 2 no.s
  • tomato – small – 2 nos./big – 1 no.

Dry powders –

  • turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • red chili powder – 1 tsp (adjust according to spice need)
  • coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
  • garam masala – 1 tsp
  • salt – to taste

Optional –

  • finely chopped green chillies – 1 no. to make it more spicy
  • lemon juice – 2 tsp



Method of Preparation

  1. Clean, wash and cut chicken to medium size pieces. Chicken can be boneless or with bones as per family preference
  2. Chop ginger, garlic, onions and tomatoes separately
  3. Usage of more tomatoes makes the colour reddish, consistency pulpy and reduces the taste of garam masala. What we need is a dark brownish colour with a thick paste consistency with the aromatic flavour of garam masala intact. Hence, if the tomato is big, take one and use two if small in size
  4. Heat oil in an Iruppu chatti/Kadai
  5. Fry chopped ginger and garlic till golden brown
  6. Add chopped onions and fry till golden brown
  7. Add chopped tomatoes and all the dry powders one after the other
  8. Mix well and sprinkle little water, not to allow chicken to burn at the bottom of the kadai
  9. Close the kadai and cook in sim position
  10. With the lid closed, chicken would release water and let it cook in the same released gravy
  11. Add very little water if chicken sticks to the kadai. Normally, no extra water would be required
  12. When chicken is done, open the lid and cook till gravy thickens
  13. When a semi thick gravy consistency arrives, it would start coating the chicken; When the coating becomes thicker and turns to dark brown in colour, thokku is done
  14. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice, chappatis, idlis or dosais


  1. Chopped green chillies can be added along with dry powders to make thokku more spicy. This is purely optional.
  2. One might also add some lemon juice after the stove is turned off. This would give a tangy flavour to the spicy chicken thokku
  3. The quantity of chili powder can be altered according to the spice level of chillies and need of the family.