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Samaithu Par and How to Make Venn Pongal and Coconut Thuvaiyal

Samaithu Par

I come from a family of good cooks, a place where almost all the men cook a mean meal and the women are just oh-la-la! Growing up in good food meant I never saw a need to learn to cook, I just ate 😀 And since cooking runs in the family, when I did need to cook, I didn’t burn stuff often. 😛

Now 32 years later I’m learning to cook!

As a Diwali gift this year I got a copy of Samaithu Par by S. Meenakshi Ammal. This is the quintessential South Indian cooking guide that has been passed from mother to daughter at marriage for the last few decades. Its even available in 5 languages.

My south indian cooking being limited and average I thought this would be a good challenge for 2013. I am going to learn south indian cooking from Master M. Ammal. (Like that Julia and Julia thing remember, only Freya and Ammal don’t sound as good)

The book’s great but it has two short-comings. It doesn’t have photos so you don’t know what your dish will look like and the layout is confusing if you’re not well-versed in south indian cuisine. The latter I overcame thanks to a friend who patiently talked me through the book. But I still need to make visuals of the dishes listed.

Though this year I’m going to try and cook the dishes M. Ammal has listed in book one and take pictures of them. I’ll post photos and my version of the recipe here on the blog as I go along :) It’s fully Samaithu Par – Cook and See…

*** I am following Meenakshi Ammal’s recipes, however I’m using shortcuts like the cooker, etc. and adding some of my own twist to the recipes. What you see here are my recipes inspired by M. Ammal’s and in no way is Ms. Ammal responsible for its outcome should you choose to try it. Though she was responsible for the brilliant outcome of my dish, so, a big thank you Ms. Ammal for writing Samaithu Par.***

Pongal and Coconut Thuvaiyal

Venn or White Pongal
(Pongal is that soulful dish what can make any day and tummy better. Not spicy, but warm, soft and soothing, it’s easy and perfect for those days when you’re not up to it.)

Ingredients –
1 cup rice
1/2 cup green gram dal (the yellow kind called masoor)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon fresh or preserved green pepper
4 cups water
Salt to taste
4 teaspoon of ghee
1 1/2 teaspoon of oil
10-12 curry leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 inch piece of ginger

Method –
1. Check the dal for stones and dirt, then fry it lightly in a pan.

2. Clean the rice and add the fried dal to it before washing them together.

3. Cook the rice and dal in a cooker with 3 cups of water, salt and peppers. I usually cook it on full flame until the first whistle and then on sim for 10 minutes.

4. Bruise the cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle and finely chop the ginger.

5. Heat the oil in a vessel and add the cumin, ginger and curry leaves.

6. When the cumin starts to splutter add a portion of the cooked rice and dal mix. Add the ghee and mix well. Add a bit of water if needed. Keep mixing and adding the rice mix and water until it all mixes and has a slightly sticky texture. Make sure not to over mash it.

7. Serve hot.

Coconut Thuvaiyal
(This is a sour textured chutney that I think would go well with something that needs a hit of flavour and feel)

Ingredients –
150 gms fresh coconut
6 dried red chillies
1 lime size ball of tamarind
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3 teaspoons black gram dal
1/4 or less teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
5-6 curry leaves
3 teaspoons oil

Method –
1. Soak the tamarind in a little warm water, then mash and strain to get smooth pulp.

2. Fry 4 chillies and remove from oil.

3. Grind the chillies to small flakes before adding coconut and tamarind pulp. Grind the coconut to a fine paste. Add water if necessary. When done empty into a bowl.

4. Heat the oil again and add mustard seeds, black gram dal, remaining chillies broken in two and curry leaves. When the mustard splutters add asafoetida.

5. Pour the oil and spices into the bowl and mix with the coconut.

6. Mix and add salt to taste.

If you try out these recipes do let me know how it turned out.

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