Not wanting to be outdone by my father, my mother made us an amazing lunch today. We decided to take pictures of it as it would traditionally be served in South India on a banana leaf. Luckily my mother is not only an amazing cook, but she also has a green thumb being a Masters in Botany! So her home is filled with beautiful plants that remind her of her childhood in Madras. It'll be -20C outside here in Toronto, and she'll have jasmine flowers blooming inside next to mini banana trees, tulasi plants, and of course her precious Karivepilai (curry leaf) plant.
Today's lunch was a consequence of our grocery shopping trip to our local China town. The 'GTA' (Greater Toronto Area!) is lucky to have such a large ethnic population that the downtown Chinatown is beginning to be dwarfed by the local variations that are popping up. Lucky for us we have our own just 20 minutes away, and you should see the varieties of vegetables and things they have there. I will do a post on that soon (wish I had taken my camera this time). Anyways we came away with gorgeous podalanga (snake gourd), kothavaranga (french cluster beans), chou chou (chayote squash), sorrakai (bottlegourd), baby bok choy, keerai (spinach), and vazhakai (green banana), and slender mulangi (daikon) all pictured here. On top of that we also bought fresh guava, bananas, grapefruit, and fresh peanuts!
So with that the menu ended up being as follows; podalanga curry, keerai masiyal, chou chou kootu, mulangi sambar accompanied by homemade vadam, lemon pickle, mango pickle, and sweet payasam. Amma also whipped up some of her crunchy vadai's.
Chou Chou Kootu (Chayote Squash Stew)
2 tbsp moong daal, 2 tbsp channa daal, 2 chayote squash peeled and diced, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 2 tbsp ground coconut, 1 medium green chili, 1 tsp mustard seeds,1 tsp urad daal, a pinch of asafetida, 5-6 curry leaves
1. Soak the daals in a little water for 1 hour.
2. Cook the daals in water (or pressure cook them).
3. Add the chou chou after about 5- 10 minutes of cooking the daal, with salt and a few curry leaves.
3. Add 2 tsp of cumin seeds to this.
4. Grind the coconut and green chili with some water and add this to the boiling mixture.
5. After this has all cooked together splutter the mustard seeds and then add the urad daal seeds, asafetida and curry leaves. Add this to the mixture and serve hot.
Podalanga Curry (Snake gourd curry)
1 snake gourd diced (with the ends cut and the insides scraped out), 1 tsp urad daal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2 dried red chillis (or 1 tsp chili flakes), a pinch of asafetida, and a few curry leaves
1. Splutter the mustard seeds, add the urad daal with the asafetida and curry leaves.
2. Add the podalanga and 1 tsp water. Steam this with the lid covered.
3. You can add 2 tsp of curry powder, or sambar powder for additional flavour to this.
Keerai Masiyal (Spinach Stew)
1 bunch of spinach, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp urad daal, a few whole black peppercorns, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, a pinch of asafetida, 2 dried red chillis (or 1 tsp of chili flakes), ground coconut
1. Splutter the cumin seeds. Add the urad daal, peppercorns, black pepper, asafetida and the red chillis.
2. Once they have roasted add the chopped spinach. Add a little water and cook this down with salt.
3. Once this has cooked, add the ground coconut.
* You can also add some ground skinned almonds if you would like to reduce the fat of the coconut, and my mother adds interesting things like roasted pumpkins seeds as well.
**Another variation on this would be to do 1/2 broccoli florets and 1/2 spinach.
*** You could also add 1 tsp of yogurt to this at the end for yet another version.
More pictures below including Amma's indoor garden.