When getting a recipe from Amma, I am reminded that cooking is more of an art than a precise science. Even when I measure ingredients out with her, she changes the proportions last minute before putting them in the pan. Now, my mother only has to cook for herself and my father. The type of cooking has also changed — coconut laden curries are out and grilled foods and salads are the norm in a household, trying to ward off cholesterol and hypertension. But when her children descend on her, Amma still cooks up a storm. Somehow with ease she manages to please everyone – children, grandchildren and beloved son-in-laws leave her home with stomachs a tad too full.
My daughter joins me in the kitchen now and together we cook for the person who is an inspiration to us both. This is what we made for Amma on Mother’s Day:
Pan Fried Prawns, Pulao, Mung Dal Pachadi, Channa Payasam.
Pan Fried Prawns
1 kg large prawns, shelled and deveined
2 tablespoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon asafetida
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
rice flour for coating
oil for frying
Add first four ingredients to prawns and marinate for one hour.
Coat lightly with rice flour and place on pan separately. Sprinkle oil for cooking. Turn when lightly brownish. Cooks in 5 minutes. Do not over cook.
1/2 cup rice – soak for at least 4 hours
1/2 cup thick coconut milk(about 3/4 cup coconut) You can also use a readymade variety.
4 tbsp softened jaggery(grate or mash with spoon)
2 tbsp chana dal
2 tsp cashew pieces
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
2 tsp raisins(optional)
Grind the soaked rice to a coarse paste by adding some water.
Cook chana dal and cashews in cooker with a little water. Dal should be completely cooked but should not be mashed.
Heat the rice paste with enough water on medium flame, constantly mixing so that there are no lumps. The mixture is cooked when the mixture becomes slightly transparent. Add chana dal, jaggery, cashews and raisins. Mix well. Cook on low flame till jaggery gets melted. Mix well. Add more water if consistency is too thick. Add coconut milk and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add cardamom powder, mix well. Garnish with whole cashews.
1 big onion chopped
½ tsp garlic + ½ tsp ginger + 1 green chill (minced)
1 cup cut veggies—French beans+ carrots+ cabbage+ cauliflower+ peas
1 tbsp raisins
7- 8 cashews
**1 tbsp garam masala
1 pinch of saffron
3-4 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
Add 1 1/2 cup of hot water, saffron, pinch of salt and 1 tbsp butter to the rice
Cook rice in rice cooker. In the thick skillet fry cashews in remaining butter, add onion, fry till transparent
Add garlic, ginger and chillie and fry for 2 more minutes.
Add garam masala, vegetables, and raisins. Do not overcook.
**Garam masala: 4 cardamoms, 1 tsp fenugreek seeds, 15 black peppercorns, 7-8 cloves, 2 one inch long cinnamon sticks, Powder all in grinder to a smooth powder
1 cup yellow mung dal, soaked for 2-3 hours
1 tbsp chopped coriander
1 green chili, finely chopped
Salt to taste