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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Currying flavor with leaves (South Indian Chicken)

I remember eating this unforgettable and distinct curry leaf flavored chicken at a restaurant in India a very long time ago. I also remember suggesting it to my mother and sister both of whom were very skeptical about how well curry leaves and chicken would mix. So it  remained long forgotten until a couple of years ago when a curry leaf craving struck me.

It was one of those times when I hadn’t made it to the Indian grocery for a few weeks in a row and my kitchen was running low on a few things. I started to crave something, well just about anything cooked with curry leaves and red onions neither of which I had on hand. In under 48 hours I stocked up on my precious fresh curry leaves and took a stab at making something that resembled the chicken I’d eaten at least over 10 years ago. It turned out well and has become one of my chicken staples.

If you’ve never tasted food seasoned with fresh curry leaves you are missing out on a singularly flavorful and unforgettable herb. If you have, then you are nodding and smacking your lips. Curry leaves are not easy to find, I’ve seen them no more than a couple of times at the Dekalb International Farmer’s Market here in Atlanta but you can always find some in the produce section of most Indian or South Asian grocery stores. The flavor of fresh curry leaves is quite distinct and different from that of dried curry leaves so I wouldn’t recommend substituting as readily as I would with some other herbs.

Prep time: 5 min | Total time: 45 min | Servings: 4 – 5

South Indian Curry Leaf Chicken Masala (Jay)

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Green, gooey n’ good-to-the-last-drop lentil curry

My family has chowed down about as much of every kind of lentil as any lentil loving Indian family and we do love our lentils. However, the yummy green bean, aka Mung or Moong, never snagged a starring role in my mom’s kitchen. While it put in an occasional appearance as “Sundal” (pronounced Soondal – a dish for another post) it almost never got to play its most popular role as the light and healthy yet sumptuous and filling Mung Daal a type of lentil curry.

Now as producer and director of the show called “In My Kitchen” I call the shots and the good green bean has landed a recurring and piping hot part. A steaming bowl of this delicious stuff hits just right note of warmth and comfort on a cold November evening.

Prep time: 10 hrs | Cook time:  40 min | Servings: 3 -4

Moong Daal Green Lentil Curry (Jay)

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