If God ever appears before me and asks which quality I would like to imbibe in myself, I would ask him to make me an extrovert and help me to socialize with people. Yes I am very shy when it comes to mingling with new people. That will explain why I am not so active in the Blogverse. But my better half is exactly opposite to me. He can easily get along with strangers in no time. And I feel so J about it. But occasionally I do meet some people with whom I get along quickly. One such person is Vijitha of Spices and Aroma. There are so many things that are common between us. We hail from the same city, speak the same language and both of us have successfully lost weight in South Beach diet.
From the conversations I have had with Vijitha, I understood that she is a very friendly and caring person. She is very disciplined and I truly admire these quality in her. Vijitha is kind-hearted and cares for the community. Her active participation in Bake sale for the Japan Tsunami victims and No kid hungry movement clearly explains that. I am so glad that we met (virtually) and thanks so much for immediately accepting my request to guest post @ food for 7 stages. Now I will let Vijitha to take over from me. She is here to delight you with an authentic and finger-licking good Kongunadu (Salem, Erode and Coimbatore area) recipe and the beautiful memories related to it.
In my previous post, I was talking about my husband’s generous gift to “Spices and aroma”. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes of this space and I will be sharing about that very soon. Blogging has given me a lot of lovely friends and one such dear friend is Radhika from the gorgeous blog Food for 7 stages of life. Our friendship started with commenting on each other’s blog and sporadic chat on Facebook exchanging pleasantries and talking about food photography. Then, we started to speak over the phone. I must say that she is a friendly and very helpful person, who will patiently address my silly queries on photo re-sizing, re-touching or anything related to photography. You will know how warm and sweet she is, once you get to know her. Also, I was so happy to know that she is a fellow Chennaite and I was so thrilled to speak to her in our mother tongue, Tamil. I love her photos and keep wondering how talented she is to take such delicious pictures. Check her blog and you are sure to agree with me.
Few weeks back, she reached out to me to do a guest post for the series “Friendship chain – spread the specialty” , started by Anamika of Taste Junction. Every fortnight a blogger(host) requests another blogger friend to do a guest post on their blog. Then, that blogger will reach out to another blogger to do the same and the chain continues. For my post, we decided to share a dish famous from the state I belong – Tamil Nadu. This is my first guest post and I am taking great pride to share this authentic Kongunadu dish with you all.
My memories were stuck in one simple yet beautiful house nestled in the paper mill quarters of Pallipalayam, Erode. That’s where my uncle and his family lived. The thoughts about that place have been lingering in my mind for days together. Was it the lovely people I met there or the gorgeous food I ate or the quietness in the surrounding or the place by itself, which made my brain stick to those memories like a kid not wanting to leave her favorite toy store?
My first visit was during my middle school years for a summer break and years later for a paper presentation at an engineering college in their neighboring town. Jostling our way, carrying the bags through the narrow aisles packed with fellow passengers, my thatha, P (best friend from college) and I reached the bus stop outside the railway station. We took the first bus to my uncle’s place. Landing at the small thatched bus stop, I smelled the perfume of moist soil, the sun was rising slowly, emerging over the cloudy grey sky and streaks of orange-red shade popped over the horizon, with crows flying up there creating a wonderful contrast against the fire lit sky. Everything happened in seconds. The quietness of the place was soon lost with the crescendo of paper mill’s morning shift siren, bird songs and corner tea shops radio FM. Gentle cold breeze kissed through my skin and we begun to walk through the muddy road of Pallipalayam. The houses looked very similar to one another and they were lined like matchboxes on both sides of the road. A well tarred road with plants along the side walks separated them. The doors were left open and my uncle was sitting in the patio with a newspaper in hand. Greeting my aunt and brothers we entered the home that smelled of curry leaves cracked in hot oil and idlies. With quick shower and never ending conversations, we munched those soft idlies and headed out for the presentation not knowing that we will come back to enjoy some spicy slow cooked lamb for dinner.
Later in the night, when my aunt served a dish by name “Lamb Chinthamani” she warned us of the amount of dry red chili that has gone into its making and suggested to take yogurt/buttermilk after the meal but we ended up sipping buttermilk after every mouth. To be honest, every bite was worth a buttermilk sip. We sat on the floor surrounding the food with my aunty next to it, refilling the plate every time it went empty and we ate with the right hand. Like a true gastronome, my cousin suggested that rice, ghee and the spicy curry is the best way to relish this dish. An imaginary calorie cloud popped over my head as he poured oodles of ghee on to my steamy rice and when every morsel went inside my mouth, the number of calories kept increasing number after number just like in V8 vegetable juice commercial. We ate tummy full. No. More than tummy full and remained seated for minutes together like a lion staring at the leftover bones of his hunt.
Lamb chinthamani is one spicy good dish which could be enjoyed once in a way. Even though it is extremely spicy, it is also extremely addictive. You will take one piece telling yourself to stop, but our hands will reach for the next one and it just keeps continuing. I make it when we feel like indulging in something really spicy. You will be surprised to know that this dish was made with just three ingredients – tons of dry red chilli and equal measurement of onions and lamb. The fusion of flavors is exceptional with heat coming from red chilly in every bite. There are two ways to cook it; quick pressure cooker or traditional slow cooking method. Any day I would prefer the pressure cooker ones, as it saves a lot of time and gas.
It is indeed their hospitality, unconditional love and my aunt’s lamb curry which made my stay in Pallipalam a memorable one.
- Heat oil in a large pressure cooker. When the oil get smoking hot, tear the dry red chillies into half and add them to the hot oil. Let them sizzle and cook for 60 seconds.
- Throw in the onions and little salt. Cook on low flame for 10 minutes until the onions brown.
- Finally add the cleaned and cubed lambs and water. Mix well to combine.
- Cover the pressure cooker with the lid and cook for 8-10 whistles.
- Once the steam has settled down, open the lid and slowly remove the lamb pieces in a clean container leaving behind the liquid.
- Turn on the stove to high and reduce the liquid to less than half the amount, or until they turn syrupy.
- At this point, mix in the cooked juicy lamb and cook for further 2-3 minutes.
- Cook in a large cooking pot. Follow the same steps as in the previous method. But instead of the letting it whistle, cook them covered for 45-60minutes stirring every now and then.
- Serve hot with rice, ghee and yogurt.