According to me food has no boundaries and I never shy away to try new things even when most of the times I fail with the choice. Food has this universal language of love that I understand and love it back the same way. But when I married a person who strictly believes anything outside his comfort zone is not food, I was in TROUBLE. I have miserably failed in making him change his food attitude and I sulk about his taste buds that are deaf to my pleadings. Even though he feels bad for me he has never asked me to make anything other than rice and kolambu all these 3 years. SIGH!!
|Theeyal and Carrot thoran|
The only food that will make mama show all his teeth and smile like he has won the bumper will be the traditional Nagercoil cuisine. Even though he was brought up in Chennai he can never stop singing praise of the place and its food culture. It was one of the reasons why he wanted an arranged marriage. Same food same habits and same same stuff. He is boring and DULL you see. Unfortunately I am a big time REBEL when it comes to such things. I have always been a 'Chennai' person and that is my identity no matter where I go. I was brought up in an entirely different fashion and indo Chinese is a weekly affair for us. Amma knew to make biscuits, cakes, jams and tomato ketchup. It was no fancy to have cutlets at home and paneer butter masala was made anytime and any day. This is my mother we are talking about, a generation that has passed. How experimental should I be??
I love Chennai food so much, I love 'Chennai sambar' if that is what is bothering you. Amma does not know how to make it and I still haven't got the recipe from my friend who forgets it the first thing. So I try to make a new sambar from every blog possible to identify the lost taste, mama will eat it cuz it is SAMBAR so no issues.
For at least a year I cooked traditional food everyday (cuz he wont eat anything else) and if I really felt sorry for me I would make subji with roti (only for me) in the evenings. I really wanted to escape the trap of being done with the same old stuff again and again. Mama is someone who can consume rice for all the three meals in a day and he SUCKS big time. I basically hate rice and imagine the fights we would have based on the food we eat. His phobia for vegetables adds fuel to the duel that even happens now. He complains about every damn vegetable and recently it is the mushroom that gets hit hard. I am so afraid that Babbi will follow his footsteps and that creeps me more. She already throws tantrums if I make beetroot rice for her :( just like mama. SOB.
Now that we have moved out for good he is compelled to eat 'STUFF' that was never on his list, not even in his dreams. The (read: his) list is not so big and thank heavens for that. But I am expected to cook these every day, there you go the killing part. If i press a little harder and buy things regularly i can bring back the one year for him but that will kill the foodie inside me. I really don't hate them as i suggest all the time, its just too boring to live a life out of rice.To just see a wide smile on his face I cook the following and make sure my soul lives (joyfully) too. Amen.
|Okra gravy with beans thoran|
Moving on, I already specified it is Nagercoil cooking that makes mama's heart sing so this post is full of all the Nagercoil stuff that I make for him. I really don't have the complete list of them, only those he likes and the ones I know to make and the ones I remembered to take pictures of :)
I learnt one recipe at a time from my maternal GM who is a rock star when it comes to such food. But she is from Trivandrum, Kerala, so there will be a lot of influence from the Kerala side too. I was loaded with the family masalas from amma and GM so it was not a problem to make any of the dishes in question.
The basic ingredient is the COCONUT which my mother never used so often. Hence I am really not a coconut lover and I can live without eating it forever but mama CANNOT. HE loves coconut even in biscuits so I brought coconut for him. Two big coconuts for one fortnight, I would break them and scrape them for two whole hours and freeze them. This is really a back breaking process but I had no choice. Plus I can never do stuff quickly. An entire evening will vanish in front of my eyes. Now we get ready made scrapes for one franc here and I am glad, I cant spend time scraping when Babbi is around changing the temperature of the stove. OH!! she scares me sometimes.
Next ingredient will be the shallots or small onion or sambar onions which is like impossible to get here. Only when there is a real need to impress mama I go out looking for them. They are very expensive and I have found a better substitute here, the big red onions which are again rare but not rare as the shallots.
The first kolambu will be the THEEYAL both white and black, mama is not much fond of the white so I only make the black version. The only difference here will be the coconut that is roasted hard to look dark brown. Of-course the color is enhanced by the coriander powder and chilli powder along with shallots. I use my imagination to make this kolambu a bit more fancy like adding curry leaves or vadagam to the coconut. Mama likes three vegetables in his theeyal: the drumstick, pumpkin and yam. So when ever we see drumstick in the Indian shop we go for the grabs. Pumpkin surprisingly is available in more than five versions here and I get to try them all. The best side dish will be carrot thoran and egg omelette (onion and green chillies). I have a knack for cooking matching matching food and I never change the order.
|Pullicurry with cauliflower fry|
The second most alluring food will be the PULLICURRY. It took me almost two years to make a perfect pullicurry that passed mama's taste buds. I used to add pepper to make things worse and now I don't That alone was the major difference maker. Again mama likes this with drumstick and raw banana which we don't get here. He says drumstick leaves add so much taste to pullicurry and I am yet to try it. I love my pulicurry with okra and it is the best. The best side dish will be cabbage thoran or cauliflower karaporiyal and egg omelette.
The third on list will be the OKRA COCONUT KOLAMBU which again happens rarely but I really love to cook this dish. This is one of my GM's special. Amma used to make this often too cuz i love Okra so much that i miss it like hell here. I am game to walk to the Indian shop almost every weekend to just buy 250 grams (expensive) of those little angels. The first thing i will make on Monday will be a stir fry with these okra and eat them right away giving mama a very meager share. My veg phobic husband does not care at all. That is the reason why i don't make this kolambu very often, i just cant wait. This is mostly a mid week kolambu and goes real well with beans poriyal or thoran.
|More kolambu with cabbage poriyal|
The KARA KOLAMBU is one dish that is really not a part of 'traditional' cooking but still mama loves it. I don't make it very often cuz it involves roasting and dry grinding and blah blah. How I wish I had got my GM's kara kolambu a.k.a maya kolambu mix :(. But the smell of it is what gives me the kick to eat it . It just fills the house with its presence and that is why mama too likes it. It is not that hot as the name suggests and it goes well with chips and beetroot thoran ;) that is how I like it.
The MORE KOLAMBU is the finest of all. I love the taste and smell of it. I make it almost every week and it never pisses me, ever. We just love it with any kara poriyal. There you go a win win situation. Even though we love okra morekolambu the most, zucchini morekolambu is our next favorite especially after coming to Geneva. It tastes too good with zucchini and I don't have to worry about finding some in Migros or Coop.
|Oh! it is the Pumpkin|
The PUMPKIN KICHADI loves mama so much that no matter how hard I try to make it taste bad it tastes good. Even though it is not my favorite kichadi or pachadi( I still have doubts about it) I make it very often. One major reason is that pumpkin is good for health and mama finally has a vegetable to love. This goes well with any karakolambu and even rasam but I stick to curd rice( loads of curd, thick and white and I don't even have to make it now!!). May be that is the reason why I gained weight psst I was blaming the lasagna and cheese.
|No taste difference: pumpkin kichadi|
There are so many other stuff like the eriseri, olan, aviyal, kootu, kichadis and pachadis which are hard core traditional. The list is too big. Fortunately the mama guy seems to not have any love for those things except the above said. He has so many specifications on how I must cook these, I let them pass through the other ear when I am given instructions. They look very harmless I know but the problem here is that he wants to eat them again and again and AGAIN :(