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23 October 2013

30 Days 30 Veggies: Day 6: Chenai Mezhukkupuratti (Yam Fry - Kerala Style)

You can check up My Cook Book for other Single Vegetable Recipes here.

Have you ever had this experience?

You plan to cook some thing. In your mind you have a very clear picture of how your preparation will look and feel once finished. You dream of eating the food, chewing each morsel, enjoying the taste, the smell, the texture,  its feel in your mouth.

You have a clear idea of what you want and how to get there. You saw the video in YouTube where a  was grandma cooking this stuff. It was so easy.

Of course, you can do it.

But.....

As they say, the devil is in the details.

This was my experience as I prepared the Yam Fry. I am sorry that it is a tongue twister of a name for a simple yam preparation. But that is how most of the words are in Malayalam, the language of Kerala.

I had this idea of a Yam Fry where every Yam Cube is separate but integrated from the rest of the preparation. My dream cube will be soft but tender, but not so soft as to blend with the others. It will be crisp. (You wonder how a vegetable can be crisp and soft and tender, you have not seen my mom prepare stuff). Each morsel will tell its own story as it melts in my mouth, how it was a recalcitrant seed, till the farmer caught it and to punish it, sowed it on the earth and added fertilizer and stuff, and how as it became grown up, how it was ashamed of some of the stuff it did as a kid...

Don't look at me like that. All of us have...

But the reality was far from my ideal.

You can read here the recipe that I followed.

This recipe calls for grinding onion and garlic in a mortar and pestle. This was the first time that I was using this and I found it very interesting. Of course, in my M&P, the mix did not grind at all. Like some couple who live together separately, the onion and garlic kind of stayed separate, maintaining their individuality and essence as it were, despite my best attempt at playing a marriage Councillor !!!

One lesson that I learned, though. If the recipe says add two spoons of hot water, there is a reason. You cannot not follow the recipe and add 10 spoons of water and expect that the cooked food will live up to your imagination !. 

At the end of the cooking, the yam cubes were to stay separate, each coated with bit of the 'Masala' and each partially crisp. Mark this, unlike the Onion and Garlic above, the yam cubes were supposed to stay SEPARATE. Is this what I got?

Of course not. Due to the excess amount of water, the Yam cubes lost their individuality. They decided that staying as a cube was not their destiny and that they had to let go of their individuality and become part of the whole. Totally, completely and without reservations.

And that is what I got. Instead of popping individual yam pieces into my mouth, I sort of ended up drinking the whole Yam preparation. Instead of melting in my mouth, the mix decided to help me reduce my effort by melting in the pan itself.

So considerate of you Mr.Yam fry / Mezhukkupuratty / Masala gravy....whatever

One thing I have to say, though. The aroma of the food was divine. 

Ingredients:

1. Yam cubes: Two cups
2. Onion:  1/4th
3. Garlic: 4 Cloves
4. Ginger: 1/2 teaspoon grated
5 Mustard: 1/2 teaspoon
6. Haldi (Turemeric) Powder, Jeera (Cumin) Powder (you should use Fennel Powder, I did not have any), Red Chilly Powder and Black Pepper: A pinch of each
7. Salt to taste
8. Oil: Two spoons
9. Curry Leaves: 5-6

Preparation

1. Semi-Boil the yam in a pressure pan without the weight for about 10 minutes (after the steam starts coming). Once done keep aside
2. Grind Onion, Garlic and Ginger in a Mortar and Pestle
3. Heat a frying pan, add mustard till it crackles, and then add curry leaves
4. Add the ground onion, garlic, ginger mix
5. Fry till the mix turns golden brown
6. Add the powders and cook for two minutes till the masala smell changes
7. Add two spoonfuls of water and mix thoroughly
8. Add yam and salt and mix thoroughly so that each yam piece is coated with the masala
9. Cook for about 5 minutes in medium flame.
10. Your Yam Mezhukkupuratty is ready.

PS: 'Mezhukkupuratty' in Malayalam means 'Covered with Oil'

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