So, that was one reason for being indulgent. Incidentally, I celebrated crossing this little hillock by flavouring my usual oats and honey kanji (porridge) with cocoa powder. How indulgent is that! As to why the last few days have been indulgent, we’ve wedding-hopping the entire weekend and have had wonderful and wonderfully-heavy meals at all places.
The icing on the cake, however, was dinner yesterday at an Italian restaurant. Too tired to think of cooking, we decided (happily for me) to eat out with a few friends at a restaurant close to the beach (Bella Ciao at Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai). It was an open air restaurant with lovely food, my first visit to the place.
I’ve been on an Italian overdrive in the last fortnight, having eaten and prepared bruschettas a few times and pasta just a couple of days ago. But that did not deter me from ordering the same yesterday! So we (there were 7 of us) had focaccia bread (looks and tastes somewhat like tandoori roti) with Verdure Grigliate (grilled zucchini, peppers and onions, topped with garlic, parsley and olive oil) for starters.
Main course was farfalle alla checca (bow-tie pasta with fresh tomatoes, kalamata olives (I love them!), basil, capers, mozzarella cheese and olive oil) and two pizzas, one with sundried tomatoes (I love them even more!), onions and black olives, and the other with capsicum, onions and olives.
Then came desserts — chocolate mousse, lemon tart (tarta al limone) and tiramisu (an Italian cream and cheese dessert that is flavoured with coffee and topped with cocoa powder).
The laziness of staying away from the kitchen continued today too since my friend Viji packed up a nice big container of raw Papaya mor-kuzhambu (yes papaya!). Mor-kuzhambu is a south-Indian style of ‘kadhi’. It is basically a curd-based mild curry that can be made with or without vegetables. In the vegetable version, pumpkin or squash/gourd varieties are usually used.
Raw papaya kadhi/mor-kuzhambu
Raw papaya (grated) – 1.5 cups
Thick sour buttermilk – 2 cups
Toor dal (thuvaram paruppu/split pigeon peas) – 2 tsp
Red chilli – 1 (soaked in a tsp of water along with toor dal for 20-30 mins)
Green chillies – 4
Fenugreek seeds (vendhayam/meethi dana) – ½ tsp
Ginger – ¼ inch piece
Jeera – ½ tsp
Coconut – 3 tbsp
Oil – 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Chopped coriander – 1 tsp
Heat 1 tbsp oil. Add fenugreek seeds
When they turn light golden, add green chillies and sauté for 30 seconds.
Remove chillies and seeds and keep aside
Sauté grated raw papaya and salt in the same oil till well cooked
Grind together to a fine paste: soaked red chilli and dal, green chillies, ginger, jeera, coconut and popped fenugreek seeds and green chillies
Mix this paste with the sour buttermilk and beat well
Place on medium heat and boil till a cap is formed (the way it does for milk)
Note: The heat should neither be too high nor too low otherwise the buttermilk may break
Add cooked papaya. Mix well
Heat 1 tsp of oil and pop mustard seeds. Pour over mor-kuzhambu/kadhi
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve