Monday, November 8, 2010

#5 Grandma's Kurukku Kalan

I am dedicating this recipe to my maternal grandmother Sathyabhama Nair. She was originally from a Palghat(Northern Kerala) Menon family and was a strict vegetarian. Over the years, I got many cooking tips and short-cuts from her. As the years went by,  I also got the idea that she had a very strong mind and a great sense of humor. We have laughed together and enjoyed so many stories of the past. She passed away recently in July 2010 at the age of 90. Although I will miss her dearly, I know that I will always cherish the fond memories of her stories, jokes and laughter and best of all the taste of all her vegetarian food. She used to cook up the best Kalan using root vegetables and raw plantain. In my version of her recipe, I used just Raw Plantains. She would talk a lot about how Kalan was made in her ancestral home in Palghat although she grew up in Coimbatore.  She alway said "The trick to good Kalan is your patience and how long you can stir without giving your hand a break. If the curds curdle, you have to toss the Kalan".

Raw Plantain- 1
Yogurt-2 cups
Haldi- 1/2 tspn
Black peppercorns-1 tspn
Green Chillies- 2
fresh grated coconut- 1/2 cup
Cumin seeds-1/2 tspn
Methi seeds, Mustard seeds, Dried red chilli and curry leaves for tempering.
Curry Leaves- 1 sprig

1. Scrape the thin outer layer of teh Plantain and slice off both ends.
2. Split the Plantain along its length with a sharp knife and cut both cross sections into 1/4 inch slices.
3. Wash them in water with a pinch of haldi and wash out all the gunk.
4. Drain from the water and add to a deep bottom pan.
5. Add just enough water to cover the plantain pieces, cook for a few mins.
6. Add salt and haldi to the plantain and cook until they are well cooked.
7. In a blender or processor grind the coconut, cumin seeds and black peppercorns to a very smooth paste.
8. When the paste is smooth, add green chillies and a few curry leaves and pulse for a min to crush them.
9. Take the above prepared paste and add to the cooked plantain. Make sure there is enough gravy in the plantain but yet, not too watery.
10. Let it cook to absorb the ground paste and allow to boil for 2 mins.
11. Now, keep a low flame and let the mixture cool down a bit.
12. Add the beaten yogurt to the warm mixture on the low fire, remember that you must have a large ladle to briskly stir this as you add the yogurt.
13. My grandmother's advice to me was that the taste of the Kalan is dependant upon how long and well you can stir.
14. Stir on low flame, until the mixture starts to boil well but be careful not to let it curdle and seperate.
15. Once it reaches this stage, you can stir from time to time and let it reduce to half the original amount.
16. Now take the pan off the fire and keep a skillet on it.
17. Add oil, and tempering ingredients and the rest of the curry leaves and pour the tempered seasonings over the Kalan and stir well.

Never be bullied into silence.  Never allow yourself to be made a victim.  Accept no one's definition of your life; define yourself.  ~Harvey Fierstein

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