Fill you up and cool you down curried chicken salad

Temperatures are holding steady at above 90°F (30°C) day after day, broken up occasionally by torrential but all too brief summer showers that push humidity levels up from tolerable to unbearable. Taking more than 15 minutes to cook a meal is quite simply a gargantuan effort. Quick foods are the  order of the day. Quick, filling, flavorful and most importantly cooling! This salad is best when made ahead of time and refrigerated overnight.

Prep time:  10 min | Total time: 5 minutes to make &  3 – 9 hours refrigeration time | Servings: 4 – 6

Curried Chicken Salad (by Jay)

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Dill-icious South Indian Lamb and Potato Fry (Varuval)

Varuval is a Tamil word that conjures up a whole genre of scrumptious fried food both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Sunday lunches at my parents home often featured a varuval – Yera (Prawn) Varuval, Swara (Shark) Varuval, Meen (Fish) Varuval and Kari (lamb) Varuval were staples. Even vegetarian fare is way more fun as a Varuval (pronounced Vuroovul) than a Poriyal  which  typically involves sauteed and steamed food. The memory of mom’s unforgettable Karnakezhangu (Yam) Varuval will send me into deep depression knowing I have to fly half way around the world to taste it again.

This dill, lamb and potato varuval is a particular favorite of my father’s and Sammie lists it in his top 5 lamb dishes. Having heard that it’s on my father’s fave list might have biased him just a little bit. There’s a vegetarian  version that simply skips the lamb.

This lamb varuval is cooked in two stages, first the lamb is pressure cooked until it is close to being done then we bring the dill and potato in for the final frying session. A wide, thick bottomed pan with an air tight light is a good substitute although the cooking time is a bit longer than in a pressure cooker.

Never leave a Varuval unattended especially during the latter half of the final frying. Patience is a virtue with a varuval, the lower the heat and the longer you can stand all that stirring every few minutes the better your varuval.

Prep time: 5 min | Total time: 45 min (with a pressure cooker)| Servings: 4 – 6

South Indian Dill, Lamb and Potato Fry (Jay)

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Ma-in-law’s Macaroni and Cheese

It is clear that my holiday time out from blogging is officially overextended when I’m pinged on FB chat and asked why I have not been posting. (Thank you Shilpa, I clearly needed that.) So I’m clambering back on the blog wagon after an overly enjoyable and extended holiday break  that started with Thanksgiving and forgot to end until the last of many inches of snow melted. Yes, Atlanta experienced its once in a decade Snoh my God! The city simply froze in shock for a Biblical seven days. We’re just about getting done with the thawing out.

So to pick up where I left off I’m going back to Thanksgiving week, when Sammie’s parents spent the week with us in Atlanta. It was quality family time and good food time so we simply had to have her mac ‘n’ cheese. It is pure, creamy, cheesy comfort. We did have a moment when Sammie waltzed in from the grocery store with black wax cheddar which was not on the grocery list his mother had given him. He announced confidently that it would be great in the mac ‘n’ cheese. He doesn’t cook so of course ma-in-law and I eyed each other doubtfully. It’s a rich, sharp cheddar so we went with it and of course it rocked. Glad I had the presence of mind to grab some pictures. It is a simple recipe and I watched her every step of the way but I have the oddest feeling it will not taste quite the same if I try to make it. What is it with Mothers’ and grandmother’s recipes that makes it so hard to get them just right? Maybe the taste comes from years of practice and not the ingredients or the method. I’m giving myself about twenty years.

Prep time: 5 min | Total time: 50 minutes | Servings: 4 – 6

Black Wax Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese (by Sherlyn Rice)

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