Tuesday, October 25, 2011

south indian cookery class

Last weekend I had the good fortune to lead a group of wonderful people in cooking a classic South Indian meal. I have been wanting to do this since returning from our stay in Chidambaram, where i would cook each day in a very traditional fashion - Sambar, Rasam, curry for brunch, Idly/Dosa for Tiffin, Homemade yogurt and rice for dinner. 

We had about 11 folks in the inaugural class, and I think it went well!! I wanted to be ambitious, so the core part of the class was preparing our own homemade Sambar powder. This became quite time consuming to grind all the spices that we bought for each participant to take home a small batch, so in the end we ground enough to use for the class and sent every one home with whole spices in the right proportions for their sambar podi. 

We made sambar, rasam, beetroot curry, carrot salad, and yogurt rice. 

Spices required for South Indian cookery: fresh coconut, channa dal, mustard seeds, dried red chilis, black peppercorns, fresh curry leaves, cumin, fenugreek, urad dal, green chilis. (asoefetida not pictured)

The "Anjala Potti" every householder's box of offerings to the kitchen. Mine has urad dal (black gram), methi (fenugreek), (kadugu) black mustard seeds, dhania (coriander seeds), jeera (cumin seeds), somph (fennel seeds), and a little tamarind.

We started out by making our own sambar powder! The key ingredient for good sambar and rasam.  Turned out great, but smaller batches are much easier to handle. I would recommend using a smaller spice grinder,  rather than food processor. 

We made kabocha squash sambar with coconut and tomato rasam with fresh black pepper and cumin. You can tell that the sambar is thicker and more stew like, while the rasam is thinner and more broth like. 

Spluttering mustard seeds, the key final ingredient to most South Indian dishes. We made a big batch and added them to the Sambar, the Rasam, the Thayir Sadam, and the carrot salad. Every dish has mustard seeds!! 

Our final feast, complete with a few celebratory harvest ales that went nicely with the kabocha sambar! Thank you to our hosts and to all who participated. And to Gautam for taking the photos!