Posted on | February 4, 2008 | 48 Comments |
Comfort food is something you crave to come home to after a few days on the road. Comfort food is usually synonymous to familiar food. It is something so personal, one person’s comfort food can send another person running for cover. For most of us, it is something that we grew up with, associated with a warm childhood memory, a special meal that only one’s own mother can really make perfect. So it is not surprising that Siv and I have different dishes that we call our comfort food.
Growing up in two different states in India, even though these are neighboring states, our basic culinary habits are quite different. The gap is closing over the years though, Siv enjoys Kerala food now, and I have an acquired taste for a lot of Tamil dishes that I used to hate when I was young. When we first met, we both were in love with food, but the common dishes were normally spicy non-vegetarian food. Regardless of the cuisine, we both loved our meat and fish. I couldn’t stand most of the typical Tamil vegetarian dishes – Pongal, Rasam, different types of flavored rice etc. Siv didn’t like some of my favorite dishes either. This wasn’t a big problem for us, even after we started cooking at home, there were enough dishes that we both liked, we never had to cook anything that the other person didn’t like.
There sure were some fundamental problems though. I couldn’t stand the smell of coriander leaves, I used to refuse to eat anything with coriander leaves, even if it was just a garnish. I also hated white rice, the only rice I liked was the Kerala rosematta rice, but Siv wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. Even though Siv could live without his Pongal and Rasam and tomato rice, there was no way he was going to switch to rosematta. He was okay to live without cilantro though. But somehow, over time I developed a taste for cilantro, and now I add it to everything I can. Siv eats rosematta rice now, even though he still prefers Basmati or other varieties of white rice.
Coming back to the topic of this post- comfort foods, as I was saying we used to have totally different criteria, but now the lines are starting to merge. This simple coriander thogayal (Tamil word for chutney) with rice is his comfort food, but add a side of spicy chicken fry to it, I can find comfort in it too… Siv made this chutney following his mom’s instructions over the phone, so simple to make and quite tasty too, I am sure we will be making this more often.
- 2 bunches of fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/4 cup sliced shallots
- 8 dry red chilies
- 1tsp tamarind extract
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp urad daal
- 1 tsp oil
Heat oil in a frying pan, add the urad daal and fry till it starts to brown. Remove the daal from the oil and keep aside.
Add the red chilies to the same pan, fry for a few seconds. Add the shallots and fry till the shallots are soft. Add the tamarind extract and the cilantro leaves to the pan. Mix well and fry for a few seconds till the water evaporates, and the leaves shrink down considerably.
Remove from the heat and let it cool down a bit. Transfer to a blender or food processor and grind to a coarse paste, adding a little bit water if necessary. Add salt and the fried daal from the first step and grind to a smooth thick paste.
This goes well with rice, dosa, idly etc. Unlike uncooked chutneys, this can be refrigerated and used for a few days.
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