I've cooked more traditional (read: food that is traditional where my parents are from) Indian food in the last 3 months than I have in all the time I've been cooking. I've surprised myself as much as I've surprised S. I didn't think I'd make paruppu usli, kootu, avial, puliyodarai, rasam, thuvayal, ghasshi, ambat, and bendi as often as I actually did. I think I feel exactly the way I did when I discovered baking 22 years ago. There was this excitement of trying out new cakes and different frostings. I think what I loved most was people's comments.
Oh, A made this?
She's just in class 6, and she baked this cake?
You mean you helped your mother bake this, right? No? You made it entirely by yourself?
I lived for that praise at age 10. I can't say that much of it has changed now. But baking doesn't get me as many oohs and aahs any more. People comment when I tell them a cake went flat or something like that. I suppose they expect me turn out decent cakes by now. If 22 years can't do it for you, then probably nothing will. But the deal is I've barely cooked any traditional food over the years. I made sambar, rasam, dali saar and some vegetables. But that was that. My biggest inspiration to make south indian food has been S. He orders a thali almost everytime we visit a south indian restaurant and I figured I could start making a small spread for weekend meals even if weekdays/nights don't allow me such luxury. And the cherry on the cake is the contented look on S's face when we're done eating.
I tend to cook dishes that I like as much as the ones that he likes. And so different types of menthi kuzhambu feature every now and then. I love eating rice with paruppu podi if I have some menthi kuzhambu on the side. Traditionally served with rice, yelai paruppu and beans karumadhu or paruppu usli, this makes you want to lick your fingers at the end of the meal.
1/2 cup Yam, cut into 2" sticks
Pressure cook the yam pieces.
Heat oil in a vessel and add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, toor dal, vathal and asafoetida. When the mustard splutters, add the curry leaves and the chillies. Add the cooked yam and fry for a minute. Add the sambar powder and fry for another minute. Add the tamarind paste, salt and a cup and a half of water. Bring to a boil.