Food evokes fond memories like no other. I would say there is nothing else in the world that has this innate ability to trigger happy memories time and again. I am sure everyone has a few special dishes that is linked to happiness, fun and laughter.
Paal curry Kuzhambu is one such dish for me. It brings at the same time longing and fond memories, memories of carefree childhood, fun and the sun. Every summer the normal routine was to have a hearty breakfast, heavy lunch and a fantastic dinner and the time in between would be spent on visits to the river, mango grove, swimming in the well and of course fishing in the canal. Hearty breakfasts that I remember were alwasys the ones that had Paal Curry Kuzhambu on the menu.
Dosai does not taste like dosai unless it is eaten with Paal curry Kuzhambu. Digressing a little, when I think about it I have only memories of eating the dish never having watched it being cooked. Why do you think this is so,
Americans have it right atleast in this situation, where most homes have the kitchen as the central room around which the rest of the house is designed. This is very smart considering that most of the activities happen in the kitchen and especially helpful if there are young kids, you can have an eye on them while also getting dinner ready. Compare this with kitchens in India, where it is the last room in the house or in many cases it is situated such that you would never have to see it. It almost seems like it is not cool to have your kitchen visible to the outside world.
There might have been several reasons why this was so? If only the kitchens were more accessible maybe I would have spend time more time there learning from the masters.
Now back to topic and without further adieu here is the recipe for Paal curry Kuzhambu an attempt to creating my slice of childhood happiness.
Paal Curry Kuzhambu
1. 2 1/2 cups of Coconut milk (you could use readymade coconut milk but nothing beats the taste of fresh extracted coconut milk, consistency should be like that of 1% milk)
2. 1 potato boiled and cut into tiny pieces
3. 1/2 onion chopped fine
4. 2 green chillies cut into rounds
5. seasoning - mustard, curry leaves chopped
6. a fistful of chopped corriander leaves
7. 1 tsp oil
1. 1 1/2 tsp corriander seeds
2. kasakasa 1 tsp (poppy seeds)
3. 1 or 2 green chillies
the above should be made into a paste, it is tough making a paste out of poppy seeds and corriander seeds, so powder them first, it is easy to powder poppy seeds if a few grains of salt is added (thank you athai for the tip) and then blend them with the green chilly.
1. In a heavy bottomed pan, heat oil, add the mustard seeds when they start to pop add the curry leaves, cut green chillies and onions and saute till the onions are translucent.
2. add the potatoes and mix well.
3. Add the ground mixture with a little bit of water and salt and cook till the raw smell goes.
4. Reduce the flame, add the coconut milk keep stirring as you are adding the milk and boil till the coconut milk gets hot. Test for salt, switch off and remove from the stove.
Very Important, Do not stop stirring or raise the stove temperature to above a high low because the coconut milk will break and curdle.
Serve hot with dosais, it tastes best when the dosai is soaked. I assure you, you will not stop eating unless you summon all your willpower and bring it to a halt. End with a big nap.