A Breakfast Pair and a Recipe

It would be fitting to say that I discovered a lot of South India on my plate once I moved to Bangalore with my sister. As an Andhrite, typical meals were served to us mostly during festivals, apart from the regular everyday fare like rasam or sambhar. Thanks to my mother who was brought up in MP, we got best of both worlds – North and South India.

But when I moved to Bangalore, I started falling in love with the simplicity and complexity of South Indian food. Udupi food became my favourite with just the varieties of dosas they would bring to the table and then my sister introduced me to her favourite – Vellappam and Stew. Fast forward to 3 years from that time, and I was being served home-made vellappam-stew by my mother-in-law. Little did I know way back in 2009, that Kerala food would soon become a homely affair!

One of our friends describes vellappam quite aptly – a bowl shaped dosa with thick idli in between! My mother-in-law is one of the best cooks I’ve come across, she has a Midas Touch when it comes to food and boy there was no way I could match up to that. But learning never stops and hence I slowly dived into recipes from this state. While the batter of vellappam was simple to make, it involved preparation ahead. What caught my attention was the potato stew which is so delicious and much more easier to make. That was a relief and thankfully, I mastered the art of a near-perfect potato stew; while vellappam still varies sometimes.

And so here it is, the simplest of potato stews that you can cook up in a jiffy, literally:

5-6 medium sized potatoes, roughly chopped
2 medium sized onions, thinly sliced or roughly chopped (depends on preference)
1-2 tbsp chopped ginger (an important ingredient)
Slit green chillies, as per preferred spiciness
Coconut milk – I use Maggi coconut milk powder
1-2 tsp crushed black pepper (you can add more or less depending on preference, but pepper plays an important role in the stew)
1 tsp mustard seeds
A handful of curry leaves
1-2 tbsp coconut oil (preferably) or any other normal oil.

In a pressure cooker, take the potatoes, onions, chopped ginger, green chillies and water – about an inch more than after vegetables are covered. Cook this mixture for 3-4 whistles, so that potatoes can be mashed easily later.
Let the pressure release by itself.
Meanwhile, read the instructions on the coconut milk packet and prepare the thick version of milk, about 1/2 to 3/4th cup only (since we already have water in the cooker).
Open the cooker and mash the potatoes roughly. Put this back on the flame on simmer, add pepper powder and coconut milk.
At this stage, if you feel the stew requires more water, add it.
Stir to mix everything well and bring to one boil on a low flame.
Add salt, check for the need to add more pepper powder and turn off the flame.
Heat oil in a separate, deep bottomed pan. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter; add curry leaves and turn off the flame.
Spread this seasoning over the stew and close the lid for the aroma to be infused.

Till I share the recipe of vellappam, savour these with dosas!




The Cracked Bowl

Ever since I got married and found out that my husband is a foodie too, I have been more interested in cooking. I never would’ve thought that I would take up baking in my life! And yet I plunged into it wholeheartedly. 2 years of marriage gave me very little time to experiment with dishes although I would try and cook as much as I can. But the time after getting married has always reminded me of how simple things, that moms put into a recipe, turn out to be so yum!

This was reiterated yesterday on a food show that I was watching. The chef says that the beauty of home cooked food is that there are hardly 5-6 ingredients used in a recipe and the dish turns out to be heavenly! While he was being served food in a village in Punjab, straight from a mother’s kitchen, I noticed that she served him curry in a cracked stainless steel bowl. And it caught my attention like a memory does – long and lingering.

The simplicity of an Indian household lies in naive things, routine things. The kitchen is a very important part of our lives, which includes food. Unlike the plush crockery that we use nowadays, stainless steel plates and bowls have a different meaning. They speak of home. I have always looked back upon memories – of food being served in steel crockery. And never melamine plates! Even today when my mom suggests using melamine or glass crockery, I simply want to relish food in the good old steel ones!

There is no embarrassment in our kitchens, especially in villages, for food being served in any type of  cracked container. It’s just a sign of home, of acceptance, of food being more important than the serving dish itself. Like a mother’s hand, the serving dish holds the same importance since it holds the most special of recipes!


Steel Glass that holds the holy filter coffee!

A steel glass that holds the holy filter coffee!