Tag Archives: simple meal

Varutha Meen, Varutha Kathirikkai with Thaalicha Paruppu/ Pan Fried Fish and Pan Fried EggPlant with Seasoned Lentil

the platter


Why not try this for a simple sunday meal or even a relaxed saturday meal? Steamed Rice – Thaalicha Paruppu with varutha meen – pan fried small fish and varutha kathirikkai – pan fried spicy eggplant!

Here we get small river fish – which my daughter loves when pan fried… but when cooked in gravy, it is a tedious affair to remove bones. Especially with an inexperienced, recently converted non-vegetarian mother like me.

Cambodia’s inland fisheries are the fourth most productive in the world given the combined capacities of the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and the Mekong River, where more than one million people depend on the fisheries sector for employment, income and food security.  Thailand is the largest importer of freshwater fish from Cambodia. http://www.genderandtrade.org/gtinformation/164419/164436/165013/thailand_combodia/

The fish is very quick to make and so is the eggplant – ofcourse the eggplant needs some cutting but the fish – might have been moulded the right size straight from heaven!

marinated fish


Coming to the platter – I just made Steamed Rice and Thaalicha Paruppu (quick-and-easy-thaalicha-paruppuseasoned-lentil) for the main course. As south indians, we always mix up the rice with the lentil or any gravied curry. And compulsorily need a side dish – be it semi gravy kootu(stew of vegetables) or a dry vegetable to have with the mixed lentil and rice.

Now enters the fish and eggplant as side dishes or accompaniment to the main course or the only course on a lazy weekend – lentil and rice. The marination can be an insult to true marination – as in the true sense, we sprinkle the spices and fry – but – a lazy day’s true treat – without doubt!

I. Varutha Meen – Pan Fried Fish



  • chiriya Meen/small fish – 1/4 kg (has appr. 25 fishes)
  • cooking oil – 5 tbsp (for frying)
  • gingelly oil – 2 tsp and curry leaves – a few for seasoning

to marinate

  • turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
  • salt – 1/2 tsp or as per taste

Method of Preparation
  1. Clean the fish and apply salt and turmeric and leave it for 15 minutes. This is believed to help in effective cleaning of any fish before cooking
  2. Wash well again and then mix in the marinade
  3. To check salt, mix turmeric, pepper and salt separately and taste for salt and spice and then mix the fish in the spice mixture
  4. Set aside for a minimum 1 hour in fridge
  5. Heat oil in pan and place the marinated fish
  6. Fry till the fish gets the brownish glow and is crispy
  7. Remove in absorbent paper
  8. Heat 1 tsp gingelly oil in a pan – might be the same pan
  9. Add the washed curry leaves and fry
  10. Place the pan fried fish in a serving bowl
  11. Garnish with the fried curry leaves.

in the pan





II. Varutha Kathirikkai – Pan Fried EggPlant


Eggplant is very low in calories and fats but rich in soluble fiber content.  The peel or skin (deep blue/purple varieties) of aubergine has significant amounts of phenolic flavonoid phyto-chemicals called anthocyanins.Scientific studies have shown that these anti-oxidants have potential health effects against cancer, aging, inflammation, and neurological diseases.

It contains good amounts of many essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and thiamin (vitamin B1), niacin (B3).Further, this vegetable is an also good source of minerals like manganese, copper, iron and potassium. http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/eggplant.html


  • kathirikkai/Eggplant – 2 no.s (I used the long ones)
  • cooking oil – 5 tbsp or a little more

to marinate

  • turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • salt – as needed
  • red chilly powder – 1 tsp
  • coriander powder – 1 tsp

Method of Preparation
  1. Wash eggplant and cut into 1 inch thick pieces
  2. Keep the pieces in water or the eggplant tends to darken
  3. When you are ready to marinate it, take out of water and mix the spices and leave for 15 minutes
  4. As usual heat oil in a pan and fry till done on both sides.

marinated eggplant


in the pan


Serve fish and eggplant with steamed rice and thaalicha paruppu. There is always Yoghurt at home and that helps to end the day’s meal with thayir saadham – that is just plain yoghurt and rice!

  1. The quantity of spices can be altered as per taste of the family
  2. Fish can be used with the head or without. I use them without the head
  3. A dash of lemon juice while marinating gives a wonderful flavour in both; or just add after the fish is crisply done.
  4. Lemon juice after the eggplant doesn’t suit much though.
  5. For marination of eggplant, sambar powder can also be used for even more lazier ladies (I do it sometimes)!

Call it a Simple Sunday Meal and why two dishes? Do some of you feel this way – just opt one per week! Sometimes I feel guilty when my daughter asks why is there a lot of empty space in her plate….. in search of more side dishes! Now, with fish and eggplant her plate was not empty!!

Why even cook the thaalicha paruppu/seasoned lentil? It happens my friend… tttooo lazy for anything. Take that Plain Yoghurt from the fridge… Have you cooked your rice atleast? Make Thayir Saadham/Curd Rice (thayir-saadham-mor-milagaicurd-rice-sun-dried-chillies) or just mix Rice and Plain Yoghurt on the lunch table. Enjoy with fish or eggplant!! A sumptuous meal and some rest too!

Elumichai Sadham/Lemon Rice


 beautifully coloured elumichai sadham/lemon rice

Elumichai Sadham (pronounced saadham) is an easy to prepare meal, flavoured with juice of lemon..  it is a delicacy made especially during those summer days of scorching sun.

Elumichai is the shortened version of Elumicham pazham which means ripened lemon in tamil; and saadham is rice. Elumicham kaai – elumichangaai is raw lemon and is used in making pickles . Originally, Choru or Soru is the tamil word for cooked rice. The origin of the word ‘saadham’ which is used commonly for cooked rice is not very clear.

Elumichai sadham (lemon rice), Puli sadham (tamarind rice), Thengai sadham (coconut rice) or Thayir sadham (curd rice) – all are called kalandha sadham, kalavai sadham or coloquially viragina sadham –  translated as mixed rice or in general variety rice.

Lemon rice on sunny days, Tamarind rice on rainy days, Coconut rice on special days and Curd rice always to end the meal… and that’s not all! Ellu sadham (sesame rice), Nellikkai sadham (gooseberry rice), Paruppu sadham (lentil rice) and many more come under speciality variety rices.

Among the Mixed Rices, lemon rice, tamarind rice and curd rice are also picnic meals – that can remain fresh and good for a couple of days – even without refrigeration.  When we use to travel in train to places like Delhi which needs 28 hours of travel time from Chennai, idly (see steamed-rice-cakes/) and varutha milagai thuvayal  (see roasted-chilly-coconut-chutney/) for breakfast and dinner, and lemon rice or tamarind rice with urulai kizhangu poriyal (see potato-dry-curry/)and curd rice (see curd-rice-sun-dried-chillies/)  for lunch used to be the packed food. These are such comfort foods when hunger never seems to stop during train journeys!

Variety rices can also be prepared from left over rice and yet the end product tastes fresh and flavourful. That is why, these can also be a lazy day’s brunch made with previous day’s left over rice and chips to go with it!

Now to Elumichai Sadham…

Cooked rice flavoured with juice of lemon,  coloured with turmeric powder for the yellow colour of lemon, combined with many more ingredients to enhance the tingy tangy taste of lemon…. lemon rice is simply and completely lemony!



A small tip to squeeze out juice easily and completely – 

On any convenient hard surface like a kitchen slab or a chopping board, roll lemon with palm and make it soft.

Now, cut the lemon into two halves and squeeze out juice which is a lot more easier affair.







Elumichai Sadham


Ingredients (serves approximately 4)

  • cooked rice – 4 cups
  • oil – 4 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  •  ulundhamparuppu/dehusked black gram – 1 tsp
  • kadalai paruppu/split bengal gram – 3 tsp
  • nilakkadalai/groundnut (roasted and unsalted)- 3 tsp
  • pachai milagai/green chillies – 2 no.s
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – a few
  • grated ginger – 1 tsp
  • turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • juice of one large lemon
  • salt – as per taste
  • asafoetida powder – 1/2 tsp









Method of Preparation

  1. Cooked hot rice can easily become mashed. For lemon rice, we need rice in separate grains. Hence, cook rice, spread in a plate and pour two tsp oil and leave to cool; This helps rice to stay with separate grains
  2. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel; Add mustard seeds and when they splutter add dehusked black gram and split bengal gram
  3. Keep the stove in medium heat
  4. When black gram and bengal gram turn golden brown, add grated ginger, curry leaves, green chillies and turmeric powder and fry
  5. Lastly add asafoetida powder, salt and roasted unsalted groundnuts and fry
  6. When salt and turmeric powder is mixed well with all the other ingredients, simmer stove and add the rice which was left to cool and mix
  7. When the rice is mixed well, switch off stove and add the squeezed and filtered lemon juice to the rice mixture
  8. Toss well till the juice of lemon is mixed evenly with rice.
  9. Serve with urulai kizhangu poriyal (see potato-dry-curry/) or any dry vegetable curry and appalam (papad) or chips.



spread cooked rice and add oil to separate grains


all ingredients put together in hot pan


ready to serve!





  1. Pachirisi/Raw Rice is always used in mixed/variety rices… mainly because par-boiled rice is fatter and sometimes has a distinct taste
  2. Be sure rice grains are separated and not mashed when cooked
  3. Nallennai-Gingelly Oil is the preferred oil, which gives the typical flavour of mixed rice… if not available, other cooking oil can also be used
  4. When freshly cooked rice is used, cool on plate; when left over rice is used from fridge, directly add to the hot mixture on stove and then mix lemon juice
  5. Green chillies can be substituted with red chillies or both can be used for added flavour
  6. Add roasted groundnuts in the end as per procedure… if groundnut is added with black and bengal gram it might get burnt easily
  7. Quantity of lemon juice can be altered according to taste preference
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Pudhina Kadalai Thuvayal- Kozhi Kuzhambu – Sivapparisi Sappadu (Mint Peanut Chutney/Chicken Curry/Brown Rice Platter)

It was a lazy sunday morning. But one cannot feel too lazy with a four-year old waiting for food. After a hot cup of ragi kanji/finger millet porridge made with milk (recipe in future), it was time for brunch or a proper lunch. I had made nothing. No special meen kuzhambu/fish curry; no biriyani; no sambhar, no rasam – the usual traditional lunch sequence. (C’mon we need our Sundays too.) Why not something simple yet different; not too time-consuming, but would come under a whole meal category, especially nothing less than expected!

Then came a picture of thuvayal, chicken kuzhambu (chutney/chicken curry)  and sivapparisi/brown rice platter!



Mildly spiced Pudhina Kadalai Thuvayal – Mint Peanut Thuvayal doesn’t need seasoning or tempering with mustard seeds and black gram when the thuvayal is served with rice.

What is the difference between thuvayal and chutney? I do not know a definite answer to this. But I have always thought thuvayal is the tamil name for chutney. The thuvayal served as accompaniment for idlies, dosais, uppumas and pongal can be of a little watery consistency. Thuvayal served with rice is a thick paste and a bit coarse too.


The word “chutney” stems from the Sanskrit word chatan, which literally means “to lick.” Chutneys occupy a minuscule spot of real estate on an Indian thali, but an Indian meal would be incomplete without these zingy sides. Not only do chutneys add zing to just about every cuisine in India, but the variations are as abundant as the number of hands that make them! http://poetryoffood.com/stories/bombay-spice/rushina-m-ghildiyal/delicious-chutneys-and-chaats


‘Chutney’ has become a universal term for thick pastes, pickles and sauces, ‘Thuvayal’ has become a term in Tamilnadu, associated more with those chutneys had with rice.

Now, back to our pudhina kadalai thuvayal..

This is a thick thuvayal to be had with steaming hot rice. Generally, thick thuvayal and rice would be had with a combination of a gravy/ kuzhambu or kootu (vegetable and lentil stew). This is for a perfect blend of a thick chutney with a gravy stew for easy consumption and digestion too!

For the gravy dish or kuzhambu to go with rice and thuvayal, I made a quick and easy chicken fillet kuzhambu!



First the thuvayal!

Pudhina Kadalai Thuvayal/Mint-Peanut Thuvayal

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • cleaned and washed pudhina/mint leaves –  2 cups
  • varutha kadalai/roasted peanuts (with or without skin) – 1/2 cup
  • poondu/garlic – 3 cloves
  • chinna vengayam/shallots – 6 no.s
  • kaayndha milagai/dry red chillies – 3 no.s
  • puli/tamarind – gooseberry shaped ball
  • oil – 2 tsp
  • salt – as needed
  • water – a little


Method of Preparation

  1. Heat oil in an iruppu chatti/pan
  2. Fry garlic cloves and shallots till garlic cloves become slightly brown and shallots slightly opaque
  3. Add red chillies and washed tamarind
  4. Add the mint leaves – mix for a while  
  5. Turn off the stove and let it cool
  6. Once in room temperature, make a coarse paste with roasted peanuts, salt and water.



  1. Usually mint leaves are fried till they shrink. I prefer just before they shrink. This gives a fresh mint smell to the chutney and also the green colour of mint leaves is lost if fried longer.
  2. Red chillies can be altered according to taste.
  3. Peanuts can be made to 3/4 cup instead of 1/2 cup if more peanutty taste is preferred.
  4. Deskinned peanuts are preferred for easy grinding – those who don’t mind the taste of peanut skin can go on with the skin as I do. Saves time and energy in de-skinning.
  5. Those with peanut allergy – please avoid this recipe.


Peanut skins are also a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber is the part of the plant that is indigestible. It is broken down into soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is fermented in the digestive tract and can help lower total cholesterol. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to food and aids in digestion. Peanut skins are a good source of both types of fiber.http://www.livestrong.com/article/98722-nutrients-peanut-skins/

After thuvayal, came kozhi kuzhambu – quick and easy chicken curry. Not a time consuming dish at all.. just keep adding one ingredient after the other to the hot oil in the kadai, close the lid and cook chicken. Simple isn’t it? 
Eliya Kozhi Kuzhambu/Quick and Easy Chicken Curry

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • chicken fillets – 250 gms
  • ginger – small piece
  • garlic – 5 cloves
  • onions – 2 nos. medium
  • tomato – 2 no.s medium
  • turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • red chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • garam masala powder – 1 tsp
  • salt – to taste
  • oil – 4 tsp
  • curry leaves – a few


Method of Preparation

  1. Clean and cut chicken fillets to bite size pieces
  2. Heat 2 tsp oil in a kadai
  3. Fry chopped garlic, ginger and onions till slightly brown
  4. Add chopped tomatoes and fry till soft
  5. Add all dry powders and salt and fry for a couple of minutes
  6. Now add chicken pieces and mix well
  7. Sprinkle very little water and close and cook in medium flame till chicken is done
  8. With closed lid, chicken would let out water..hence sprinkling little water is enough
  9. When the chicken is done check salt
  10. If one finds the gravy too thick, little water can be added
  11. If one needs a thicker consistency, cook till gravy thickens
  12. Heat the other 2 tsp oil – preferably gingelly oil (nallennai in tamil) – fry curry leaves and pour into the curry
  13. Simple Chicken Curry is ready to be served. 

Serve thuvayal and kozhi kuzhambu with brown rice. First course of brown rice and thuvayal tastes best with a spoon of hot ghee/clarified butter. To finish the meal, there is always thayir saadham – curd rice.

Thayir saadham – Serve a small ladle of the same cooked brown rice. Mix well with generous amount of curds. This can be had with the thuvayal or chicken curry or as just plain curd rice. Generally it is had with any south indian pickle and/or mor milagai (deep-fried – dried chillies).  A south indian meal always ends with thayir saadham – which is rice mixed with curds/yoghurt. This aids in digestion after the intake of varied spices in a lunch and dinner platter.

In my next post, I shall elaborate on the ever-special seasoned thayir saadham!