Traditional Kerala Meal from Ammini’s cookbook Grains, Greens & Grated Coconut

by on July 29, 2009

Reading Ammini’sGrains, Greens and Grated Coconuts” has been so inspiring that on an impulse, I decided to cook an entire KERALA meal from her book. It was not easy deciding the menu, for I am not yet very familiar with Kerala food. Jigyasa was equally enthusaistic and prodded me on. We debated on what to cook, exchanged a few emails with Ammini and here is the result:

 

Kerala recipe
An anticlockwise list of the dishes starting with the sweet dish which is directly on the plate at the left:

  1. Neyyil Varattiya Pazzam (an amazingly quick and yummy sweet dish with ripe plantains)
  2. Chethumaangakari (Green mango pickle)
  3. Puliingi (a spicy dip – ginger and green chillies in a tamarind sauce)
  4. Kothamallipodi (I made this as a dip rather than powder)
  5. Varutharacha Sambar (with drumsticks)
  6. Paavakka Varutharacha Kootan (with Bittergourds)
  7. Kurukku Kaalan (South Indian kadhi with raw plantains)
  8. Tomato Pachadi (Ammini, it was the way you wrote about how your mother cooked it that tempted me to try this one)
  9. Urulakizzangu Thoran (Dry side-dish with potatoes)
  10. Plain buttermilk

I started at 6 a.m when the house was quiet and undisturbed. I put on my favourite musical album – India and her Future from Aurobindo Ashram – and began cooking. Having decided to follow the book meticulously, I cooked slowly, unhurriedly, counting every chilli and measuring every teaspoon of lentils. With a new cuisine, one must follow the instructions perfectly, setting aside any temptations at shortcuts, or even trying to be creative. The time for that will come later, I believe. Ammini’s writings and instructions were so precise and perfect that I cooked without any hitch. Many things caught my attention – for instance, in the paste for Varutharacha Sambar, the dals are toasted, followed by the coriander and coconut, with fenugreek only towards the end. I wondered for a minute, but did exactly that. I cooked ponni rice with the meal since I had forgotten to buy the typical Kerala rice the previous evening.

 

kerala recipe

kerala recipe

kerala recipe

With Andhra food, if it is the number of chillies that constantly surprise me, then with Kerala food, it was the coconut. Knowing that a Kerala RECIPE is rich in coconut is one thing, but actually measuring cups and cups of coconut (so far, I have added it in teaspoons and tablespoons) is quite an experience. Of course, until the end, I kept checking each recipe to see if I had read the quantities correctly. It took me around 3 hours to cook the entire meal, and I must add that it was satisfying and pleasurable. Thank you Ammini for a fabulous experience. A few years ago, I had cooked an entire Tamilian meal from Chandra Padmanabhan’s Dakshin, and the result had been rewarding. With Pedatha, Jigyasa and myself were introduced to the delights of Andhra cooking. Ammini’s book brought Kerala flavours into my kitchen. Any cookbook recommendations for a Karnataka cuisine? Blogger Srivalli of “Cooking for all seasons” fame, a new friend from the web world, joined us for lunch, happily clicking away on her camera. Some friends and relatives came for food tasting during the day – all in all, one of those days which begins and ends on an ‘aha’ note.

 

Click to read Ammini’s Soul Food and Soul Mates interview in Harmony magazine and her featured Kurukku Kaalan Recipe. Also, we enjoyed Ammini’s heartwarming tribute to her mother-in-law with an Ellukari recipe. Share a few lines about your favourite family recipe in the comment form below.

 

POSTED BY PRATIBHA, PHOTOGRAPHS BY SRIVALLI

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