Thirunelveli or Nellai in short, an ancient city in Tamilnadu is not only famous for its Halwa, but also for its cuisine, which is rich in coconut and flavour. Some popular Nellai specialities are Nellai sodhi, Avial, Theeyal, Mundri kothu, ulundu saadham, Ellu thuvayal and as my maternal grandmother had her roots there, I am quite familiar with the delicacies, as most of her cooking reflected her place of origin. But, I was introduced to Nellai sambhar by my In laws, as it was the favourite sambhar of my late father in law, who hailed from Palayangottai, the twin city of Thirunelveli. This Nellai sambhar is different from madras sambhar and usually served with rice. In the picture, the sambhar is served in a traditional earthen ware called Kal Satti, which is used many house holds even now, for the particular flavour and taste that it gives to the food cooked in it.
Tuar dal 1/2 cup
Vegetables 300 g ( Drumstick, Egg plant, chayote, Radish - any one of these)
Onion 1 large
Tomato 1 large
Turmeric powder 1/2tsp
Asafoetida a pinch
Tamarind small lemon sized ball soaked in 1/2 cup water
Combine the following and grind to a fine paste
One small onion or 1/2 an onion
Red chilly 5
Coconut 1 1/2 tbsp
Cumin 1 tsp
Mustard + urad dal 1tsp
Curry leaves few
Oil 1 tbsp
Rinse tuar dal and pressure cook with enough water.
Heat oil in a pan, add mustard + urad dal, curry leaves and when it begins to pop add the cumin seeds.
Add the sliced onion and saute until it is pink.
Add chopped tomato and stir until it is cooked.
Add the chopped vegetable, turmeric powder, asafoetida, salt, enough water for the vegetable to cook, close the pan and leave it to cook.
When the vegetables are almost cooked add the tuar dal, ground masala paste, tamarind water and cook on low heat for few more minutes until everything boils to a thick sambhar.
Crisp cauliflower fry is a favourite for all age groups and now it has also become a part of the wedding feast. As it tastes like chicken 65, it is a good substitute for vegetarians.
Cauliflower 1 small flower (about a palm size )
Rice flour 4 tsp
Chilly + Coriander powder 1 tsp
Ginger garlic paste 1 tsp
Lemon Juice 1/4 tsp
Water about 2 tbsp for mixing the masala
a pinch of sugar
Oil for frying
Oil for frying
Divide the cauliflower into small florets.
Boil some water , with 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder and 1/4 tsp of salt.
Add the cauliflower florets to the boiling water, turn of the heat and let it remain in the hot water for about 10 minutes.
Drain the water and set aside the vegetable to dry completely.
When dry, add the rice flour, chilly+ coriander powder, ginger garlic paste, salt, lemon juice and sugar to the cauliflower.
Sprinkle water and mix so that the masala coats the cauliflower well.
Deep fry in hot oil and serve with rice or as a snack.
Note: I actually used some lemonade, which was there beside while mixing the masala, instead of water, which occurred to me just at that moment, not much, but only just enough for the masala to coat the cauliflower.