Mum’s vegetable kurma

Here in the UK, pretty much any “Balti”, “Tandoori” or “Indian” restaurant will feature a “Korma”. My general reactions to this word are (a) spelt wrong (b) wrong colour (c) tastes nothing like I remember it (if I decide to try it) (d) not coming back here again.

The kurma (right spelling) I do remember is my mother’s one and she often made it with chappati (unleavened whole wheat flat bread). As a child I remember not liking it very much – there was some flavour/spice in the dish I didn’t like.  It was only when mum gave me the recipe for kurma did I realise what it was – aniseed/fennel seeds. It is the same reason I don’t like Sambuca or liquorice. Yucky aniseed! There are always ways about things you don’t like – my solution here has been to use the smallest amount of fennel seeds I could get away with. And this time, I did like my mum’s kurma.

The recipe falls in the category of  “Over-the-phone” recipe which is more accurately an “over-SKYPE” recipe these days. The way it goes is this.

Me: Hi mum, I was thinking of Dish-blah that you used to make and wanted to make it.

Mum: Oh that – easy peasy (when you have made it for more than 30 years, sure)

Me: So, how do I make it ?

Mum: Chillies, coconuts, 10 more ingredients ………Got it ?

Me: Sure.

Mum: Do you want to write it down ?

Me: No, it’s all in my head

Growing up, mum always said to me that no one taught her how to cook. She just watched and learned. When it comes to recipes, I’ve never seen a single one written down by either my grandma or my mum. It is something that is communicated by word of mouth and remembered purely by repetition. So it is some sort of false pride deep inside me that says that if gran and mum can remember recipes, so can I. I try my best but in some cases, I have to resort to the neatly typed up recipes on my laptop. More recently of course, I have this blog to jog my memory. Enough blah,blah and now for the recipe.

Mum’s vegetable kurma

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Quick dinner series: With olive bread and soft goat’s cheese

I think I have confessed before that I am a slow cook. Cooking relaxes me and is my unwind at the end of the working day and so I take my own sweet time at it. However, we all have those days when we just can’t be bothered and I’m no exception. I still like to pretend I’ve put some effort into my dinner and try and jazz up our dinners even if they are simple. Here I present one such pretence with olive bread and goat’s cheese. They were dinners on 2 consecutive days. Easy and tasty!

Please note: I love avocado (much to my partner’s dismay) and will throw it on everything I can but please don’t feel obliged to.

a. Toasted bread spread with goat’s cheese, topped with mushrooms sautéed with thyme and finished off with fresh tomatoes and avocado
b. Toasted bread spread with goat’s cheese, topped with a salad of tomatoes, olives, croutons, avocado, olive oil and lemon juice and served with fresh rocket.

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Rasam (Tamil) or Saaru (Kannada) – A spicy South Indian tomato soup (with pictures)

The recipe for ‘rasam‘ was my very first recipe post and rasam is what my site is named after. However, I realised recently that I hadn’t posted any pictures for this lovely dish. It just so happened that I made some this weekend and I took some pictures this time. So here they are along with some minor changes to the recipe.

The essence of this delicious dish is the spice mix called  rasam podi or saaru pudi. This is the mixture of spices that gives Rasam it’s unique taste. It is pepper and chilly based and is the cure for many a common malaise (Read about them in my Old wives’ page for Rasam).

The rasam or saaru powder is special in that every south Indian household has their own take on it. This is passed on through generations of mums, grandmas and greatgrandmas and in my opinion is the most valuable form of inheritance – knowledge. Needless to say, every south Indian person tends to be partial to their mum’s/grandma’s/greatgrandma’s take on the dish and I’m no exception. My mum’s rasam is the best rasam in the world and she makes it exactly like her mum did. Even as a child, I was unimpressed with the other rasams in the area and would report back to mum about how the rasam next door wasn’t the greatest. Never mind being thankful for the invitation to eat there.

Without much ado, let me give you the recipe for mum’s rasam podi and rasam itself.

Saaru or Rasam

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Sanjeev Kapoor’s Dum Aloo Amritsari

THIS IS NOT MY OWN RECIPE !!

Source: http://www.sanjeevkapoor.com/dum-aloo-amritsari.aspx

Aloo’ means potatoes in Hindi. ‘Dum’ means strength or pressure and in this context, it means that the potatoes are cooked with a lid covering them so they are under pressure due to the build up of steam. The pressure is important as it helps the potatoes soak up the flavours of the sauce they are in. ‘Amritsari’ implies that it came from the city of Amritsar in the state of Punjab.

This potato dish was a novelty when I was a child and I always imagined only special people in the restaurant could make it because my mum never did. My dad who worked in Calcutta, West Bengal when he was younger would rave about ‘Dum Aloo’ or ‘Aloo dum’ but I never got to taste it until I was an adult. All I knew was that you had to use whole baby potatoes to make it and that it was awesome.

In my early teens when mum would let me tinker in the kitchen, I’d attempt to make what I imagined dum aloo should be like. Of course, I only used the simplest of ingredients (onions, tomatoes, potatoes and garam masala +coriander for garnish) back then and mum had to help me fry the potatoes. I like this grown-ups recipe better with a lot more spice and a partiality towards chilli and I try not to fry the potatoes because they can be quite oily.

Sanjeev Kapoor's Dum Aloo Amritsari

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Rasam (Tamil) or Saaru (Kannada)

The very basis of this simple yet delicious dish is the rasam ‘podi’ (pronounced: ‘Po’ as in poll and ‘Di’ as in dig) or powder. This is the mixture of spices that gives Rasam it’s unique taste. It is heavily pepper and chilly based and is the cure for many a common malaise (Read about them in my Old wives’ page for Rasam).

The rasam or saaru podi is special in that every south Indian household has their own take on it. This is inherited from generations of mums, grandmas and greatgrandmas and in my opinion is the most valuable form of inheritance – knowledge.

Needless to say, every south Indian person tends to be partial to their mum’s/grandma’s/greatgrandma’s take on the dish and I’m no exception. My mum’s Rasam is the best rasam in the world and she makes it exactly like her mum (whom I call Papa) did. Even as a child, I was unimpressed with the other rasams in the area and would report back to mum about how the rasam next door wasn’t the greatest. Never mind being thankful for the invitation to eat there.

Without much ado, let me give you the recipe for it.

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