Authentic Tamil recipes
Milagai bajji / chilli bajji is a traditional south Indian tea time snack, which is thoroughly enjoyed in the evenings. You can easily find stalls selling them in Chennai Marina beach, small tea shops in Chennai or in busy marketplaces. The milagai bajjis can be easily prepared at home.
This time I am sharing authentic chettinad dish, chicken kurma. Chettinad food is a very famous cuisine for its distinct flavour, taste and spiciness and most popular for its non-vegetarian dishes in chettinand region in Tamil Nadu. Chettinad cuisine is popular for its variety of spices and freshly ground spices for non-vegetarian dishes. Chettinad chicken kurma is a spicy, hot and aromatic dish, which is flavoured with aromatic and distinctive spices like dagad phool (kal pasi or black stone flower), nutmeg and mace (jaiphal and javitri), star anise apart from cashews and kus-kus (poppy seeds), which is a must . Don’t compromise with the ingredients given or you will not get the chettinand taste. Chettinand chicken kurma goes well with plain rice, porotta, roti, idiyapam , idli and dosa, etc.
Vazhakkai bajji/raw banana fritters is a very popular evening snack in Chennai, which is usually accompanied with a cup of tea. Vazhakkai bajji is a south Indian snack, which you can find near Marina beach in Chennai, served in paper plates with a spicy onion or tomato chutney. We often order milagai bajji (chilli fritters) and vazhakkai bajji (raw banana fritter). Apart from beach in Chennai, it is also made at home and also available at small tea shops as a snack in the evenings.
Chettinad food is very popular for its non-vegetarian dishes from Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu. I am sharing this authentic restaurant style Chettinad chicken curry/kuzhambu, which is spicy, hot and aromatic flavoured with distinct spices like kal pasi (dagad phool or black stone flower), nutmeg and mace (jaiphal and javitri), star anise in addition to other spices. Do not compromise with the ingredients mentioned in this recipe if you want the real Chettinad taste. Chettinad chicken curry/kuzhambu goes well with anything – plain rice, roti, chapathi, parotta, biryani, pulao, idiyyapam, dosa, set dosa, idli, etc.
South Indian (Chennai) style mango fish curry is one of my favourite fish curries because of the sour and tangy taste. Mango fish curry is an onion and tomato based curry with tamarind and raw mango. The combination of raw mango and fish makes this curry excellent. I have used sea bass for this curry. Any firm fish like snapper, sea bream, king fish (vanjaram) or salmon will work. This fish curry has pretty much the same ingredients as madras fish curry with the only main difference being raw mango.
Cashew Pakoda (Munthiri Pakoda in Tamil) is a very famous evening snack in South India. Cashew pakoda is made of chickpea flour (besan in Hindi) along with other ingredients. It is very simple and easy to prepare and goes well with tea as an evening snack. To get more flavour into the cahew pakoda, mint leaves and curry leaves are important along with a very little ghee/dalda/oil added to the flour. The texture of the cashew pakoda is crisp and crunchy unlike other pakodas which are crisp but soft inside – like Palak Pakoda or Chilli Bajji.
Madras fish curry is an onion and tomato based curry along with tamarind. Coconut is not used in this curry. This fish curry is one of my favourite dishes as tamarind goes into it. I should also say that one of my favourite breakfasts is this Madras fish curry with dosa. I have used vanjaram fish (king fish). Any firm fish like snapper, tilapia, sea bream, koduva (sea bass) and even salmon will do just good in this curry.
Vengaya sambar is a very popular sambar among other sambars prepared in Tamil Nadu. Chinna vengayam sambar/small onion sambar (also known as kunjili) is one of my favourite sambars and it goes well with any south Indian breakfast and also with plain rice with a drizzle of ghee. I always prepare as arachuvitta vengaya sambar. Arachuvitta sambar means (in Tamil) ‘made with freshly ground spices’.
Mutton Kurma is a South Indian coconut based curry, which is quite different from mutton khorma/korma in North India, the Mughlai dish. There are so many variations in mutton kurma itself. This time I am showing how my mother-in-law prepares at home usually served with pulav for dinner. If any kurma is left over, then it goes for breakfast with idli/dosa – this combination is too good, trust me.
Kaalaan varuval (mushroom fry) or chilli mushroom is a very famous street food of Coimbatore, which you can find near busy market places or children’s parks where the street vendors sell this delicious street food. Though I am not a very big fan of mushroom, for a change I sometimes prepare mushroom curry, mushroom 65 and mushroom pokada. After tasting this mushroom fry (kaalaan varuval) street food, it was a hit for me.
Sankara meen varuval (Tamil)/Red snapper fish fry is a very popular and frequently cooked in South Indian style in our home. We always use sankara, which we call Aarass ki Macchi at home, more for frying purpose; very rarely we use it for curry. Fish fry is very popular dish and cooked in varieties also. Each house has their own recipe of fish fry.
Chettinadu fish fry (Chettinadu meen varuval) is very famous in south India and you will find this in every chettinadu restaurant menu. In Chettinadu cuisine, special spices like nutmeg, black stone flower and fennel seeds are used and are quite important in the cuisine apart from other spices. This is my family’s favourite fish fry. When we order any fish fry in a restaurant, they serve only one piece of fish fry but it will be big in size, a thick fillet served with onion rings and lemon wedges.
Kanjeevaram idli/Kudalai idli/Kanchipuram idli is a variation to the regular idli (steamed rice cake). Kanchipuram idli originated from the place called Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, famous for silk sarees, where I bought few of my sarees for my marriage 9 years ago. One of my aunts accompanied with us for shopping who suggested us to have Kanchipuram idli while shopping. Kanchipuram idli is slightly spiced and steamed.
Rava idli is a famous south Indian breakfast from Karnataka and is one more variety of idli. Rava idli is different from the normal idli and can be prepared instantly. There is no need to ferment whereas normal idli has to be fermented and both tastes different also. Rava idli is easy and quick to prepare. Rava means sooji/semolina. You can use Bombay rava if ordinary rava is not available.
Chettinad food is popular for its non-vegetarian dishes in chettinad region in Tamil Nadu. Some of the popular food in chettinad cuisine is chicken curry, mutton curry, fish curry, adirasam and many more dishes. Chettinad cuisine is popular for its hotness (spicy), variety of spices and freshly ground spices for non-vegetarian dishes.
Coconut and roasted gram chutney is a south Indian chutney, which is served with idli and dosa or any south Indian breakfast/snack. The roasted gram is also called roasted chanadal, split gram, putanae/putanalu in Telugu and pottukadalai in Tamil. This coconut and roasted gram chutney (thengai pottukadalai chutney) is quick and easy to prepare and is common in south India. I have used fresh grated coconut, which goes well with the roasted gram.
Varuval means fry; I have fried the baby potatoes in the chettinand style, which gives you different taste and flavour. Baby potatoes or new potatoes are small in size and can be used as a whole. Can make curries or fry it, even for dum aloo small potatoes are used The sambar onion (shallots or small onions) which has a sweet flavour gives good taste to chetinand baby potato fry.
Ven pongal/kara pongal is a very popular breakfast in restaurants or at home in south India. Tamil kara pongal recipe is popularly called ven pongal. ven pongal is very easy to make and this is one of the dish that I always see serving in banana leaves in marriages. In each house and other places, pongal is prepared differently. In Karnataka, the pongal I tasted at my friend’s house and restaurant’s is entirely different, as dry coconut or fresh coconut and turmeric powder is added and is served with tamarind based sauce called gojju.
This is a chennai style kovakkai poriyal, which is made with chana dal and is very delicious and goes very well with plain rice and dal, rasam. I tasted this in one of my friend’s house, I liked it very much. Kovakkai/Dondakaya/Tindora is a small green vegetable with white lines on it. It has a white flesh inside with small seeds on it. If red flesh is inside, it is over ripen, then discard it.
Chettinand curry a south Indian spicy curry which goes well with our south Indian break fasts like idli, dosa, set dosa, aapam, parotta , puri and chapathi(roti). It is different from other curries as shallots and aniseed (suanf) gives a sweet taste and where as whole spices and pepper seeds the heat. Chettinand curry is prepared differently in each house and every one has its own recipe. I have cooked this curry in a pressure cooker, can cook in any vessel.
In Chennai the most popular snack which is very popular and sold near Marina beach is Thenga manga pattani sundal. Thenga manga pattani sundal is a snack which is eaten mostly near the marina beach in Chennai or near the parks. A boy comes with his barefoot on the sand and with his sundal bucket, some murk (made with rice flour, with some spices) and some news papers with him. With the help of newspaper he make a cone shape pocket and serves the sundal. I always ask him to top with more mango pieces.
Fish curry made with special freshly roasted grounded spices. This curry is different from the other curry as in this I have added all the spices which is needed for fish curry and also tamarind and mango pieces. So this curry is sour, tangy and spicy. In this I have chopped the onion and tomatoes very finely and added , if you want can add paste of onion, tomato and garlic as I did for the fish mango curry in my previous recipe, can add fresh grated coconut also.
Fish fry we often found in many restaurants and at homes also, but dry fish fry , only those who like it ,they cook at home. The fish is very salty as it is marinated in a salt and left to dry in the sun like how we do for pickles. It is not eaten like any fresh fish at our home, few pieces of fish is enough, like a pickle it is eaten with other side dishes. If dry fish is fried , it can be eaten with simple dal and rice. It is cooked without adding salt and chilli to it. It is a very simple and easy dish.
The most favourite, tasty and delicious is era varuval (in Tamil) or Jhinga fry (prawns fry). My husbands and every bodies, who love seafood favourite is Era varuval (Prawns fry). In each house they do it differently with the spices. In fries especially, oil usage is more as, we are roasting it, oil is needed, but it is up to you to use or avoid it.
Rasam is common in south Indian meal, it is eaten with white boiled rice. It is a second course eaten with rice, followed after sambar in south India. If you order any south Indian meal in hotels, you can see that rasam is there. A south Indian meal involves puri or roti, vegetable korma or any vegetable dish, sambar, any kuzhambu , dry veg dish called poriyal, pickle, apppalam (pappad), curd and sweet. Rasam is had as a soup too.
Drumstick is a common vegetable which we can use in sambar. This time I have prepared sambar using brinjal, drumstick, ladies finger and ofcourse my favourite sambar onions (kunjili onions or shallots). In this sambar recipe, I did tadka (seasoning) first, then boiled the vegetables, added the boiled dal and then freshly ground powder (masala). If you want you can do tadka right at the end.