As part of our south Indian cooking class that we has organized we learned about the different types of rice dishes that are prepared in the region. Well, we learned about three dishes at least.

They were the curry leaf rice, tomato rice and lemon rice. And the best part is that we got to sample all three of them. Yummy!

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It’s summer in India and it is as hot as heck. And it can get quite unbearable at times. But there is one reward to all this. It’s mango season and I’m on a mango odyssey.

So, over the course of my stay here I’ll be sharing with you mango I am sampling and I plan to end my odyssey by attending the International Mango Festival the day before I leave India.

So here are the first two mangoes I sampled in the south in Madurai.

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This mango is called Sappattai. Verdict: delicious. Sweet. Not stringy. Meaty. Dandapani’s seal of approval!

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This mango is called Kasalattu. It’s almost half the size of the mango above and delicious as well. This is going to be tough rating them all I can see. Less meaty obviously since it is smaller. Not stringy which is great. Sweet. Thumbs up. Dandapani’s seal of approval!

So far so good. Off to search and sample the next variety…..after I lick my fingers clean!

 

Well, if you can say the name of this dish then you can surely make it as it is easier than it sounds. And when you have one of these lentil balls (urandais) in your mouth you won’t be saying anything as it is absolutely delicious.

We learned this on our most recent spiritual and culinary adventure in South India in January 2012. When I first saw it being made in front of me I thought to myself that this takes a lot of work and I was hesitant to try it. But having tried it a week ago and realized how fairly simple it is I’ve made it twice now.

Here’s the recipe and I hope you’ll give it a go. Photos below are from cooking class during our culinary tour in South India.

Ingredients for Kola Urundai (Lentil balls)
1. Toor dhal (Pigeon peas) – half cup
2. Bengal gram dhal (black chick peas) – a handful
3. Raw rice – 2 teaspoon

Soak above for 15 mins, drain and keep aside. (I actually did it with only the Toor dhal)

4. Red chilly – 1
5. Garlic – 3 cloves
6. Aniseed – 1 teaspoon

Grind all the above (from 1 to 6), coarsely, and keep aside

7. Coconut shredded – quarter coconut
8. Onion shallots or small onions – 3, slice finely
9. Coriander leaves – 2 tablespoons finely cut
10. Curry leaves – 2 tablespoons finely cut
11. Turmeric – quarter teaspoon
12. Salt to taste

Mix all the above from (1 to 12) well.

Shape into balls and steam for 10 minutes, keep aside.

Ingredients for the gravy or sauce
1. Oil – 4 tablespoons
2. Cinnamon – 3 small sticks
3. Aniseed – 1 teaspoon
4. Onion shallots or small onions – 10 to 15, slice finely
5. Tomatoes – 4
6. Turmeric – quarter teaspoon
7. Chilli powder – 2 teaspoons
8. Coriander powder – 4 teaspoons
9. Water – 4 cups

Masala to be ground fine for the gravy
10. Coconut – half shredded
11. Poppy seeds – half teaspoon
12. Aniseeds – 1 teaspoon
13. Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon

Grind fine from (10 to 13) and keep aside

The Method

Heat oil in pan.
Add the cinnamon and aniseed, stir till aniseed splutters (takes about half a minute).
Add the small onions and saute.
Add the tomatoes and saute.
Add the chilly powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder.
Add the ground gravy masala.
Add the water and boil for 5 minutes.
Add the steamed Kola Urundai one by one carefully in order not to break it.
Boil and remove from fire, decorate with coriander leaves.
Serve with rice.

Some of the ingredients...

Main ingredients for the kola urundai kolambu

These little dumpling like things are then steamed.

Dumplings are placed gently into the curry (sauce)

 

Here’s a recipe that we acquired on our recent spiritual and culinary adventure in South India. This Mint Chutney recipe was taught to us in the heart of Chettinad in Tamil Nadu state where they make some amazing food.

Ingredients required
Mint leaves – few sprigs
Shallots – 100gms
Garlic – 1 pod
Ginger – 1 inch
Coconut (grated) – half cup
Tamarind – Small quantity
Red chillies – 2 chillies
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1 table spoon

Preparation Method
1. Place a frying pan on the stove
2. Pour oil and heat
3. Add red chillies, finely chopped small onions, ginger, garlic and the remaining ingredients and mix well.
4. Then add the mint leaves and grated coconut
5. Remove the mixture after the coconut flavour disappears
6. Then grind the mixture in a grinder to make it a paste
7. Transfer the mixture to a bowl
8. Serve as a side dish…

We were so keen to eat this at the end that we forgot to take a photo of the final product….sorry!

 

Our spiritual and culinary adventure is coming to a conclusion and today we had our last cooking class. It was on two Chettinad style dishes. The first was “Mint Chutney” and the second “Kola Urundai Kolambu”.

Here’s the recipe for the “Mint Chutney” that we learned today.

Ingredients required
Mint leaves – few sprigs
Shallots – 100gms
Garlic – 1 pod
Ginger – 1 inch
Coconut (grated) – half cup
Tamarind – Small quantity
Red chillies – 2 chillies
Salt – to taste
Oil – 1 table spoon

Preparation Method
1. Place a frying pan on the stove
2. Pour oil and heat
3. Add red chillies, finely chopped small onions, ginger, garlic and the remaining ingredients and mix well.
4. Then add the mint leaves and grated coconut
5. Remove the mixture after the coconut flavour disappears
6. Then grind the mixture in a grinder to make it a paste
7. Transfer the mixture to a bowl
8. Serve as a side dish…

We were very keen to eat this at the end that we forgot to take a photo of the final product….sorry!

We gather for our final cooking class

Two recipes are being taught today...

Some of the ingredients...

Main ingredients for the kola urundai kolambu

These little dumpling like things are then steamed.

The Kola Urundai Kolambu is almost complete and tastes absolutely delicious

Markley poses with Amma (mother) after the cooking class. Nobody makes a meal better than Amma...Part of what we aimed to do on this culinary adventure is learn from mothers. And this Amma knows how to cook!

 

The only way to taste true Tamil cuisine is to be fortunate enough to be invited for lunch with a family. We had that pleasure yesterday when we dined at the home of Kailas Deeksitar, a priest at the spectacular Chidambaram temple.

We were greeted by his wife, son and daughter. Both sons also serve as priests at the temple.

From this humble kitchen, just a corner of the single room in which the family lives, comes an array of delicious Tamil delicacies.

Behind the small house, a cow and her calf supply the household with milk, butter, yogurt and ghee.

We were treated to a traditional banana leaf meal, sitting cross-legged on the floor as we were served.

The meal was a classic South Indian lunch with a large portion of rice accompanied by dal, sambar dry spiced potatoes, two vegetable curries, a crunchy appalam and a sweet dessert made from semolina, ghee and LOTS of sugar!

Kailash presided and explained some of what we had seen during the morning ceremony.

 

Eating with your hand is something that is common in Asia especially in India. The right hand is used and all meals are eaten with it. Today for lunch as part of our culinary journey we visited Sri Krishna Sweets, a restaurant in Pondicherry that is famous for its sweets on the ground floor of the building and serves lovely thali meals on the floor above.

So, we taught the group today how to eat with their hand and much to their surprise they found it very easy once you know what to do. The thali lunch was delicious!

The delicious thali we had for lunch

Our group learns to eat with their hand and are enjoying the experience.

No better way to round off a thali lunch than with a great cup of south Indian coffee.