This is an easy weekend dinner that can be prepared relatively quickly.
- Tilapia fillets - 4
- Paprika - 1 tablespoon
- Chill powder - 1 tablespoons
- Lemon - 2 sliced
- Salt - to taste
- Turmeric - 0.5 teaspoon
- Fennel seeds - 0.25 teaspoon
- Red onion - 1 whole cut
- Mix all the ingredients together with the fillets and let it sit in the fridge for 1 hours
- Place the fillets on a baking pan and bake for 15 minutes (5-7 each side) on 350. Broil for 2 minutes on high.
- Garnish with rosemary leaves and parsley.
- Serve with lemon on the fish.
- 4-5 curry leaves
- 5 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns
- 3-4 cardamom pods
- 2-3 karambu
- 5 fenugreek seeds
- 5-0.75 tablespoon fennel seeds
- Half a cinnamon stick
- 1 whole onion sliced thinly
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2-4 tablespoons curry powder
- 2 Roma tomatoes
- 1 potato, diced
- 1 whole garlic clove
- Mix together the beef, half the garlic bulb and 1 teaspoon of curry powder and salt and let it sit for 30 minutes (or overnight in the fridge for maximum flavour).
- Heat oil in a pan and once warm, add the onions, potatoes, cumin powder, fenugreek seeds, karamu, and cinnamon stick and let it turn brown. Don’t let it burn, stir if needed.
- Add turmeric powder to the pan and stir.
- In a blender, mix together the peppercorns, tomatoes, half the bulb of garlic and curry powder.
- Pour this mix to the pan and mix together on low heat. Add very little water if needed. Don’t add too much water as you want a thick gravy. If it is getting too dry, add diced tomatoes.
- Add the marinated beef and close the pan on low heat to let the juices flow for 15 minutes.
- Increase the heat on high and let it cook with the closed lid, stirring for another 10 minutes. Add more curry powder and salt if desired (if you like it spicier, add more curry powder). Alternatively, you can add green chilies if you like.
- Reduce the heat and let it cook for 10 more minutes (or longer if not cooked.)
- Add curry leaves and green peppers (optional for colour) let it cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally.
- You can also sprinkle very little parsley leaves or chopped coriander to add some colour.
- Remove from heat and enjoy!
Nethali poriyal (anchovy fry) is one of my husband’s favourite dishes. It makes a wonderful side with fish curry. Since you eat the bones of this fish as they are so small, you get lots of calcium from this dish.
- Nethili Fish Fry - 1 cup
- Oil - enough to fry the fish, coconut oil is best to mask the smell of the fish.
- Curry leaves - 2-3 springs
- Fennel seeds - 1/2 spoon
- Chilli powder - 2 spoons
- Green chilies - 2-3 slivered
- Jaffna curry powder- 2 spoons
- Turmeric powder - 1/4 spoon for marinate, 2 spoons to clean
- Coriander powder - 1 spoon
- Ginger garlic paste - 2 spoons
- Lemon or lime juice - 2 spoons
- Salt - to taste
- 1 onion - cut very thinly
- Wash the fish a few times with turmeric powder. Wash at least 3-4 times with different water. Remove the heads, you can cut them off.
- Pat dry the fish with a paper towel.
- Mix together curry leaves, chill powder, green chilies, Jaffna curry powder, coriander powder, ginger garlic paste, lemon and salt with the fish and let it marinate overnight in a silver or glass bowl. The curry leaves help mask the smell of the fish.
- Bring the marinated fish to room temperature.
- Heat oil in a pan and fry the onion. Remove from the pan.
- Fry the fish and additional curry leaves in the remaining oil, you can add more oil if needed, about 7 minutes each side or until cooked throughly.
- Remove from pan, taste for salt, and add salt if needed. Top with fried onion.
Here’s a little trick I use when making curry to make sure the curry powder is mixed in with the curry well. I put all the curry powder I will be using in a glass bowl and add hot water and mix it with a spoon (don’t use plastic as this can be harmful). I also do this sometimes when mixing other dry powders like cayenne pepper, turmeric or chilli powder. This always ensures that my base is consistent and is mixed throughly. This prevents clumping and prevents the raw curry powder taste.
This was a dinner I made a few weeks ago of chicken curry (top) and chicken fry (bottom). The chicken curry recipe can be found here. Here’s the chicken fry recipe. It’s very simple, quick and tasty.
- Chicken breast, with bone-in, 2 pieces loosely chopped
- Cayenne Pepper, 1 teaspoon
- Ground Pepper, 1 teaspoon
- Lemon, 1 medium
- Coriander leaves (for garnish)
- Salt, to taste
- Tumeric, 1 teaspoon
- Yogurt, 1 teaspoon
- Onions, 1 medium
- Mustard seeds, teaspoon
- Curry leaves, 4-5
- Wash chicken and pat dry.
- Coat chicken with yogurt, salt, ground pepper, cayenne pepper and tumeric. Let it sit for 30 minutes.
- Heat oil in pan and start to onions, mustard seeds and curry leaves. If the mustard seeds sputter when you put them in, it means the oil is hot enough.
- When the onions turn translucent, add chicken and dry for 5-10 minutes each side until cooked throughly.
- Right when you ready to turn the heat down, add lemon juice all over the chicken pieces and stir.
- Remove from heat, add coriander leaves and enjoy.
Chickpeas are very good for you. Chickpeas are high in fibre and protein, and have many other nutrients and minerals. This dish is simple, quick and filling. We make often at our house, especially on veggie Fridays.
In a pan, heat oil, and once the oil is hot add 4-5 shallots, 1-2 green chillies, a spoon of ground pepper, a half tablespoon of Jaffna curry powder, a pinch of tumeric, fennel and salt. Stir to prevent burning.
Add 1 chopped tomato and cover the pan.
Add 1 can of half cooked chickpeas.
Mix well, add 1 more spoon of Jaffna curry powder and cover. After 2-3 minutes lower heat and add curry leaves. You can add some cream, coconut cream or some milk and stir to help cut the heat if it is too spicy.
When making curries, it often calls for garlic (vellai poondu) and ginger (inji). Remember that it is always best to use a mortar and pestle to grind the garlic and ginger. I usually add peppercorns when I’m grinding garlic and ginger since I will often use peppercorns in my dishes. Ginger and garlic are very good for you. This is also why it is added to many curries. Many of the ingredients used in Tamil cooking has a reason beyond taste – much of it is based on the benefits of the spice to the body.
Garlic (vellai poondu) can be eaten raw or cooked. But it is such a strong flavour and odour that it probably is best consumed cooked in curries. It is believed to be antibacterial and contains antiviral properties. Garlic is commonly used to help digestion, treating coughs and colds, killing stomach worms and removing flatulence. It is also used to lower blood cholesterol levels by preventing blood vessels from clogging.
Ginger (inji) The English word Ginger was derived from the Tamil word Injiver. (Inchi- ver (root). It is widely used in Tamil and South Indian cooking. You will often see a paste made of ginger and garlic. Ginger is tooted for its benefits, including aiding in digestion, removing flatulence, indigestion and stomach cramps. See Verkombu for stomach cramps home remedy. It is also used to clear sinus and phlegm as it is an expectorant and helps loosen and expel phlegm. In the mornings, you can make a tea of ginger and cardamon to ensure you get some ginger in your day.
Eraal Kulambu (shrimp/prawn curry) is my favourite dish. It is probably one of the quickest dishes to make. I often make this on weekday nights after work since it has a short cooking time, quick thawing time and preparation time. If you actually clean the prawns or shrimp and leave it in your freezer, then it becomes even more easier to quickly make a meal. You can use either prawns or shrimp.
- Shallots 13-15
- Cumin seeds - 1-1.5 teaspoons
- Peppercorns - 1 tablespoon ground
- Garlic - 1 bulb
- Ginger - small sliver
- Cinnamon Stick
- Fennel Seeds - 1 teaspoon
- Fenugreek seeds - 1 teaspoon
- Mustard Seeds - 1 teaspoon
- Jaffna Curry Powder - 3 tablespoons
- Curry Leaves
- Tumeric - a pinch
- Pepper Powder or Paprika (optional)
- Tamarind Paste
- Clean the shrimp – remember to remove the shell and devein both sides of the shrimp. The veins hold a lot of sand and this does not taste good in the curry. Wash thoroughly.
- Mix tamarind paste with water in a small bowl and let it sit.
- In a mixing bowl, add the cleaned shrimp, ground peppercorns, salt and turmeric and let it sit for a little while.
- Heat oil in a pan and add cut shallots, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and fennel seeds. Stir frequently to prevent burning.
- Add the tamarind water after straining all the pulp and curry powder. The amount of Jaffna curry powder you use depends on how spicy you want it, and how much you are cooking. For the amount shown in this photo, I used 3 big tablespoons. I also added in paprika to add more spice. Let it cook for 2- 3 minutes. Stirring occasionally to prevent burning. You can add water here if you want more kulambu.
- Add the curry leaves, shrimp and cook until it turns completely pink. About 3 minutes. Shrimp cooks fast. Do not over cook it otherwise it will taste rubbery.
- Taste for salt and adjust if needed.
- If you ever feel like you added too much spice, the way to cut the heat is to add milk. Add a little milk to your curry if this happens. Make sure you do not leave your curry out to sit if you do this as it will spoil quickly because of the milk.
I think for many people, when they think of their grandmothers they think of three things – love, food and stories. My grandmother was very special. I fondly remember when I was younger, eating seeni murruku and hearing stories. She was a wonderful storyteller and would tell me many stories about Tamil culture, biblical stories and fairy tales. This is a story she told me that really stuck with me.
Thiruvalluvar’s wife, Vasuki Amma was on her deathbed. She was very ill. Thiruvalluvar asked her if there was anything he could get her. She said there was just one question she wanted to ask him so that she can pass away peacefully.
She asked him, “Since we got married, you always placed a cup and a needle beside your food. Why did you do that?”
He said, “I did not want to waste any food. The cup and needle were placed beside the food so that if ever a grain of rice fell while you were serving food, I would use the needle to pick it up, and use the water to wash it and eat it, so not to waste it. However, in all the years we have been married, it has never been needed. ”
With that answer, she passed away peacefully.
I think the point of the story was to show that we should never waste food. Even a grain of rice is valuable. When we cook, this is something we should consider. We should only make as much as we/our family will eat. I myself am guilty of this sometimes, and need to remind myself that I should only cook enough to last one or two days.
If you grew up in a Tamil household, chances are you would have drank malli thanni when you were sick. My mother use to give this to me all the time when I was sick. Malli thanni is simple to make, and used to aid in the healing of colds, flu, sore throat or sinuses. Even if you aren’t sick, you can drink this to help boost your immunity. You’ll notice that coriander seeds and leaves are used in many dishes and home remedies (ie. rasam).
- Coriander seeds ( I use a quarter cup for every 3 cups of water)
- Rock sugar or honey (optional)
- 1. Dry roast coriander seeds.
- 2. Boil water in a pot.
- 3. Add coriander seeds and bring to a boil.
- 4. Add ginger pieces and rock sugar or honey (optional) and let it simmer.
- 5. Strain liquid and drink.