Literally translated to good smell of my grandmom’s hand, [பாட்டி = Grandmother, கை = Hand and மணம் = good smell], my paati’s cooking was out of the world, just like her 🙂 She was from Kallidaikuruchi, Tirunelveli District and was one of a kind, like her hometown[AHEM:AHEM]
Ramalakshmi paati was my dad’s mom. I never had the fortune to meet Mahalakshmi paati (my mom’s mom) as she passed away when my mom was a teenager. My official name was Ramalakshmi 🙂 but my mom felt it was too long and shortened it to Lakshmi when i started school. In fact, I resemble Mahalakshmi paati but my mannerisms, nature and some, no, scratch that – most of my qualities are from Ramalakshmi paati. So you can say, i am a perfect mix of both my paati’s 🙂
Ramalakshmi paati was such a bold, intelligent and brilliant woman (considering the times she was in and that she was uneducated as well). Her integrity, sense of self, ethics and above all – endless love for us, she was amazing person.
In fact, my mom calls me 3-in-one, her daughter, MIL and SIL rolled into one as i have inherited most of my qualities from my paati and my athai, hehe. She passed away when i was very young and i didn’t get a lot of chance to observe her in action. But my mom says, from my actions to some words that i use in conversations (that are very specific to Tirunelveli and her) to right down to the way i walk, even my footfalls, remind my mom of my paati.
One of the best things about my paati is her cooking, authentic, tam-brahm, Tirunelveli style cooking. Poricha kootu (பொரிச்ச கூட்டு), Thengai araithuvitta kuzhambu (தேங்காய் அரைத்துவிட்ட குழம்பு), avial(அவியல்), more vendha saaru (மோர் வெந்த சாறு), a potato curry with freshly ground spices……and the list goes on.
Of this, Thengai araithuvitta kuzhambu – தேங்காய் அரைத்துவிட்ட குழம்பு is one of my absolute favorites and my comfort food too. Somewhere in between Vatha kuzhambu (வத்த குழம்பு ) and Araithu vitta sambhar (அரைத்து விட்ட சாம்பார் ), it is an explosion of flavors for your taste buds. When I was pregnant both times with Vidyuth and Vishruth, I had a craving for this all the time and i used to just drink this kuzhambu in a cup 🙂 Even now, it is the begining to a perfect weekend tam-brahm lunch.
Here is the recipe so that you can also enjoy this amazing dish that has been passed down for generations.
Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
- Tamarind (a big lemon size)
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- Pinch of Hing/asafoetida (I usually take a bigger pinch as I think it ups the taste)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2-3 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 6-7 dried red chillies (less if you can’t take the heat)
- A cup of grated coconut
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp finely chopped curry leaves for garnish
- 1 cup of Veggies (radish/brinjal (eggplant) or okra go well with this)
- Salt to taste
1) Soak the tamarind in water for a couple of minutes and get the pulp, thicker the better. Note: I usually use the leftover tamarind when I grind the coconut, chillies and fenugreek. It adds more tang and gives a nice taste.
2) For the wet mixture: Roast the red chillies, 2 tsp of fenugreek, the grated coconut with some hing until they turn golden brown.
4) Heat 1.5 tsp of cooking oil in a kadai or pot.
5) Add mustard seeds, 1 red chilli, 1 tsp fenugreek and hing. Wait for them to sputter. Add the radish or any other vegetable and sauté them for a minute.
6) Add the tamarind water, turmeric powder and salt.
10 ) Mix with hot rice and some ghee. Goes well with potato curry 🙂
Grandma serves kisses, counsel and cookies daily.~ Author Unknown