Saturday, October 29, 2016

Deepavali Mutton Kuzhambu

While all the Hindu festivals are related with feasts, sweets, snacks and goodies of whatever kind, it has to be all of vegetarian origin. Plants, leaves, flowers and fruits. But this festival Deepavali or Diwali has an 'excuse'. The Tamilians, especially, the Southies cook lamb on this day and serve for breakfast as Mutton Kuzhambu and/or mutton biriyani for lunch/dinner.

Back in my parents' home, amma used to make mutton thovaram, an amazing sidedish made with pieces of boneless mutton cubes sauteed to perfection with coconut and jeera with a touch of chillies. I had seldom celebrated Diwali with my parents ever since my marriage and had been continuously missing out on these delicacies! Here in my family, my in-laws follow a much traditional pattern, holding strictly, the vegetarian concept! Mutton and Deepavali put together is considered blasphemous ;)..though V smiles at the disappointment I have every time, every year on the D day :). To top the bad luck, the full moon day or the amavasya fell on the same day calling for feasts made with country vegetables even with no onion and garlic and sans 'English kay' like beans, carrots, potatoes... :)

I always wished to source out a South Tamilnadu deepavali mutton recipe and recreate for my space. This recipe is from Eshwari my friend, who hails from down South and makes this authentic Virudhunagar style dish for her family, every Diwali morning!

I should admit, this dish is one of the authentic mutton curries, I have tasted; with that balanced taste and aroma of the cinnamon and fennel, subtly dominating the combined flavours of ginger garlic with a touch of earthiness contributed by the lastly stirred in, mildly roasted and crushed jeera n pepper powders! What I really loved with this recipe is the generous addition of  pearl onions and the final cooking in coconut milk! Irresistible!

Virudhunagar Deepavali Mutton Kuzhambu

Prep time- 20 mins
Cooking time-40 mins
Total time needed- 1 hr
Serves 3

You Need:

1/2 kg Mutton / Attukari with bones, cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp turmeric powder

To dry roast
1/2 tsp coarsely crushed pepper corns / milagu
1/2 tsp coarsely crushed Jeera / jeerakam
A sprig curry leaves

To season
3 tbsps Sesame seed oil /  Nallennai
1/2 tsp Fennel seeds / Sombhu
1 inch pc Cinnamon /pattai, crushed coarsely ( I used Ceylon Cinnamon / Surul Pattai )
1/2 tsp crushed ginger / inji
1/2 tsp crushed garlic /poondu
Chopped pearl onions / chinna vengayam, enough to fill a 200 ml cup
2 green chillies, sliced lengthwise
2 tbsps red chilly powder / milagai thool
1/2 tbsp coriander powder / malli thool
A sprig curry leaves / karuveppilai
A fat pinch of turmeric powder
7-8 cilantro / malli thazhai, whole herb,  roots removed

Freshly grated coconut enough to fill loosely a 200 ml cup OR 250 ml medium thick coconut milk

1 tsp Kosher salt / Kallu uppu


Wash and drain the meat pieces. Blend along 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder. Let it stand for at least 30 minutes.

Dry roast pepper corns and jeera for a minute until the aroma emanates. Remove and roast the curry leaves in 4 drops of sesame seed oil. Remove and keep aside. We are going to use it for garnishing.

Coarsely grind of pulse the jeera and pepper in your mixer. Crush ginger -garlic as well. You can also use ginger garlic paste. I used my stone mortar (ammikkallu).

Chop pearl onions lengthwise, thin. Keep aside.

Heat 3 tbsps sesame oil in a wide thick bottomed kadai. Throw in crushed cinnamon ( Ceylon cinnamon is brittle and has a milder flavour. It can be crushed with finger tips too ) and fennel seeds. Saute sliced small onions. While golden brown, add the fresh sprig of curry leaves ( not the roasted ones ) and the ginger garlic paste. Saute for a minute.

Now add the red chilly, coriander and the turmeric powders along with the salt. Mix well and heat up the whole thing to blend well in low flame for 3 minutes adding the cilantro. No need to chop the herb, leave them a bit long.

Extract 250 ml coconut milk from the grated coconut. You need not separate 1st and 2 nd milk or thick and thin milk. Just have them together in medium thickness.

Add along the curry. Mix well and transfer to a pressure cooker.

Cook in full flame until one whistle. Lower the flame to minimum and keep on fire for 20-25 minutes or until the chunks are cooked soft! Open. Voila !! You are sure to confront a sexy red curry topped with oil ;) with a full blast aroma! Slide out a piece of meat and check the doneness. If not, give a stir and return to the stove top and cook for some more time. You need not add any water.

Throw in the roasted curry leaves, along with the powdered cumin and pepper. Stir gently to combine. Check salt at this point. Transfer to a serving bowl. Your Virudhunagar Mutton Kuzhambu is all ready to be served hot with idlies or dosas.


  • This recipe calls for sesame seed oil or nallennai for the authentic taste.
  • Do not compromise on the onions. Yes, it has to be small onions / pearl onions which fills loosely a 250 ml cup so that once sliced it yields a 200 ml cup.
  • I have used freshly extracted coconut milk from freshly grated coconut shavings. You may use canned milk or 3- 3.5 tbsps of coconut milk powder mixed in warm water. The whole idea is to have a medium thickcoconut milk.
  • The amount of ginger garlic paste is lesser when compared to meat curries in this one. This is to bring out the flavour of spices! Do not skip the final addition of the roasted n crushed cumin-pepper mix. My friend insisted on rock salt / Kosher salt / 'kallu uppu' instead of the regular table salt. Seems this salt combined with the spices add to the authenticity of the dish!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016


According to Wiki, Basundi the traditional sweet prepared from milk, belongs to the states, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra and is similar to the preparation of the North Indian Rabri.
I already have the recipe of Rabri in my Rasagulla post. When I asked one of my Maharashtrian friend about the difference between the both, she mentioned about the Rabri being thicker and creamier and Basundi. Addition of dry fruits or lime or other fruity flavours gives versatility to Basundi which again serves as an accompaniment to pooris!

So, Basundi is all about boiling fresh full fat milk, bringing down to half its level, cooked with slivers of nuts, sweetened with white sugar and flavoured with cardamom and nutmeg.

Total time needed- 40 mins 
Yield - Fills two 200ml cups

Get ready with:

 1 litre Full fat Milk
 1/4 cup scant Sugar
 A tablespoon each of slivered nuts, Pistachios, Almonds and Cashews. Reserve a few pieces if you wish to garnish.
 A few strands of saffron soaked in 2 tbsps warm milk
 Two fat pinches of freshly ground cardamom
 A pinch of powdered nutmeg (I didn't use)

How to make:

Start with boiling the milk in a wide non stick kadai. Lower the flame and taking utmost care, not to burn the cream in the base, stir along well.Scrape the edges as well and combine with the milk all along. Reduce the quantity to almost half.  I needed 25 minutes to reach this point. Add the nuts and stir along.

Simmer for a few minutes. Keep stirring and scraping. I switched off the flame and took a break here as my hands were aching a bit ;). Soak a few saffron strands in two tablespoons of warm milk. Reserve. Back to the milk, add sugar and stir in.

Addition of sugar makes the milk thinner. So, simmer for 3 minutes in minimum flame. Add in milk with the soaked saffron followed by the freshly ground cardamom powder. Put off heat. You can get an idea of the finished hot Basundi from the the final picture. Its thick,  nutty, creamy and has a mild yellow hue.

Serve warm or chilled! 


  •  If you feel, the traditional method of boiling down the milk and preparing Basundi, elaborate, you can use 1/4 - 1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk, stirred in with the milk. Cut down on the amount of sugar in that case.
  • Stir the milk continuously while simmering down, taking extra care to scrape the base gently to prevent browning of the milk fat. If you ever come across that, switch off the stove and filter milk to remove them. 
  • Usage of wide nonstick pans, make the work easier. I needed 45 minutes for the whole process for 1.250 litres of full fat milk.The whole idea of stirring up rich Basundi is to preserve the cream / malai while boiling milk. Keep scraping the sides and bottom and combine with the simmering milk all the while. You can even switch it off in mid point as I did :) to relax a bit and start again after an hour or so. The thick cream or malai on top can be stirred along :)
  • Basundi can be made a day or two earlier if you wish to serve your guests. Keep it chilled and airtight.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Butter Murukku ~ An easy to make Murukku / Chakli recipe for Diwali

It had been a while since I posted a recipe in my space. If to give reasons, there are a few; travel being the main one :), yes, to the far west end of the globe for about a quarter. While I still tide over the jet lag and tiredness coated with the wonderful memories of meeting a few of the wonderful blogger pals in Bay Area, I got prompted to get back to posting a Diwali recipe.
I am not an expert in making 'chaklis' or 'murukku' and decided to roll up my sleeves to attempt a simplest one to begin with. A simple family favourite with the recipe sourced out from one of my husband's aunts, who passed over the measurements in 'padi' or the traditional Tamil measuring cups which in turn were carefully scaled down to cup and tablespoon measures here :)

'Butter Murukku' is easy to make than you presume and you will realize the homemade ones, far better in taste and texture than the store bought counterparts.

Butter Murukku
 Prep time 15 mins
 Cooking time 30 mins
 Yields a 500 ml bowl loosely heaped


 1 cup Rice flour or Arisi mavu, not roasted- I used store bought raw rice powder.
 1 heaped tbsp Besan or Kadalai mavu
 1 heaped tbsp *Roasted gram flour or Pottukadalai mavu -(refer method down)
 1/4 tsp Hing or Perungayappodi
 3/4 tsp Cumin (Jeerakam) or Sesame seeds (Ellu) - I used Sesame seeds

 1 tbsp unsalted butter at room temp
 125 ml  water at room temp
 1/2 tsp table salt


*Measure 1/4 cup of  Roasted gram, place in your food processor or a dry mixie jar and powder well.
Measure the rice flour, besan and the powdered gram flour (do not use the whole powder. just measure a heaped tbsp for our purpose) in a separate bowl and sieve to discard the grainy particles of the grams.

Transfer to a bowl and add hing, salt and the sesame seeds. Mix to combine with a whisk or use your finger tips. Next, rub in butter, combine evenly in the dry flour mixture and lastly add the water little by little to form a soft ball. I needed exactly 125 ml. But be careful with the measurement and be warned; it can slightly vary according to the quality of the flour used. The ball should neither be too hard nor soft. The consistency should be almost the same as 'Idiyappam' dough. Check salt at this point.

 Pick out the star designed disc and fix with the murukku press. Grease the insides of the cylinder and outsides of presser with a few drops of oil. Heat oil in a wide and thick bottomed kadai. To check the right temperature of the oil, pinch and drop a tiny ball of dough into the hot oil. The oil is in the right temperature, if it rises up immediately with a sizzle and not smoky. Fill half of the cylinder with the dough and press gently in a slow wide circular motion into the hot oil. It should sizzles you see in the picture. This murukku generally falls as broken pieces, though it happened to be intact for me :). Do not disturb for a few seconds and wait for the initial sizzle to calm down, may be for 15-20 seconds. Lower the flame if oil is smoky. Gently turn the murukku pieces in the oil until they attain a light golden hue of the morning sunlight. Drain and transfer to a tray or a flat plate lined with paper towels. Let it cool down completely before you transfer into an airtight container. Enjoy with a steaming cup of coffee or tea :)

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