Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Chettinad Pakora Curry : Pakoda Kozhambu

I was not aware of the word “ Chettinad” till I heard it first time on Master Chef India – Season 1. The episode where all the participants were given the challenge of preparing food for over 50 people based on a specific Cuisine. And one of them got this option, Chettinad Cuisine. And I googled it the first thing next day. ( Mind you ! I like saying “googled” it, rather than looked for it or searched for it. It sounds so much cooler ;P ) So anyway, I googled the cuisine and found out some really interesting facts about it. Again, being a person lived in Northern India all my life I was not much aware of the differences in South Indian Cuisine. Except few basic facts like Dosa being called  Dosai and Idli can also be eaten with Chutneys instead of Sambhar. Yes, I was that na├»ve !!

Coming back to the Chettinad Cuisine, I would like to share a part of my knowledge to the guys who share my level of understanding of the Cuisine. My friends from South India, please correct me if I go wrong anywhere. So, Chettinad cuisine is originated from Southern District of Tamil State and the current state of the Cuisine is an interesting mix of flavours from ancient cities like Bangalore, Tanjore, Madurai, Udupi, Mysore, Cochin and of course Chennai.




Chettinad cuisine is famous for its use of a variety of spices used in preparing mainly non-vegetarian food. The dishes are hot and pungent with fresh ground masalas, and topped with a boiled egg that is usually considered essential part of a meal. They also use a variety of sun dried meats and salted vegetables, reflecting the dry environment of the region. The meat is restricted to fish, prawn, lobster, crab, chicken and lamb. Most of the dishes are eaten with rice and rice based accompaniments such as dosais, appams, idiyappams, adais and idlis.

These were just my two pennies about the origin and history of  this Masaaledaar Cuisine, you can always refer to Wikipedia for more information. As of today I am going to give you a recipe that speaks for itself. This Chettinad Pakora Curry was suggested by Priya for this month’s challenge of South v/s North team. Being a part of the North team, I prepared this last weekend for Lunch. And what an amazing treat it was, I could still taste the spices in my mouth. 



This month’s SNC challenge was a savory curry made in Chettinad style. This was my first time preparing Chettinad cuisine and since I have not tasted this particular curry, I was not entirely sure about what to expect or how it should really taste. But take my word for it. it was absolutely delicious. The addition of coconut, cashews and roasted chana dal adds a whole new dimension to our regular onion-tomato gravy and also alters its texture in a soothing way. Curry leaves and the roasted chana dal reinforce the south indian flavors while chana dal pakoda with crushed fennel seeds offered a new surprise at every bite. Thanks once again to Divya for organising this Challenge. Click here if you are also willing to participate in this amazing group. 



What you need?

For the Pakoras:
1/2 cup Channadal
3-4 Dry red chillies
1tsp Fennel seeds
Salt
Oil for frying
For Gravy:
2 Onions (chopped finely)
2 Tomatoes (chopped finely)
4-5 Garlic pods (chopped)
2-3 Green chillies 
1 tbsp Coriander powder
1 tsp Red chilly powder
2 tbsp Oil
Salt to taste 
Fresh Coriander leaves (chopped)

For seasoning:
1/4 tsp Cinnamon powder
2  Cloves
2  Green cardamoms, crushed 
2 Bay leaves
1 tsp Fennel seeds
Few curry leaves

To grind:
1 tsp Poppy seeds
4 tbsp Grated coconut, frehs or frozen 
6-8 Cashew nuts
1 tbsp Roasted Chana dal




How to make?
Soak the Chana  dal for two hours.
Take the soaked dal, dry red chillies, fennel seeds, salt together and grind as bit coarse paste with v little water.
Heat oil for frying, and fry small shapeless pakodas with the batter
Fry the pakodas until they turns golden brown. Drain the excess of oil with a paper towel and keep aside.

Grind all the ingredients given under the list 'to grind' as fine paste with enough water. Keep aside

Heat oil in a pan, add the spices given under 'for seasoning' and fry until they turns brown.
Add the chopped onions, tomatoes, garlic, green chillies  all together for 4-5 minutes till the tomatoes get all mushy and nion leaves its raw smell
Now add the grounded paste to the onion-tomato mix, and cook for 4-5 minutes on low flame. .

Add 5cups of water, red chilly powder, turmeric powder and salt, give a stir and cook in medium flame. Add some more water if needed, to keep the gravy a bit runny and not dry since Pakodas also would need  enough water to soak in
Once the oil gets separates slightly from the gravy, add the pakodas immediately and close the lid. 
Dont stir the gravy after adding the pakodas, bring boil the gravy once and turn off the flame. 
Granish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with rice or Chapathis




My Notes:
This is very similar to the Kofta Curry we make, but with the addition of Coconut and Poppy Seeds. These two ingredients actually changed the whole taste of the curry, which was very much liked by us
You can also sprinkle some Garam Masala on top, or add some cream before serving. Just to give this curry a creamier and richer taste.
For a difference, we can also add a bit of Moong or Urad Daal to the Chana Daal batter

I am planning to make Paneer Kofta Curry next time keeping the gravy base same. 



Linking this entry to this Months SNC challenge hosted by Priya 

Linked to the events - 
South Indian cooking started by Anu's healthy kitchen and hosted by Nivedhanams. 

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