Thursday, March 31, 2011

Vaazhai Ilai

I know, it's quite some time now since my last post. Had been busy again :-( In the meantime, I got some photos uploaded and with it, wanted to share some memories with you. This time, when we were in India, during our stay with my in-laws, one fine day almost everyone in the family was present at home. My mom-in-law found it to be a perfect day, for which she had been planning for quite some time. She and her assistant were busy bustling in the kitchen right from the morning. I was busy with packing stuff and kept wondering what they were up to. In a short time, what awaited us on the lunch table took me by surprise. Yeah, it was a full pleasant surprise indeed!! We had a feast arranged for us in a plantain leaf!! I was full with glee :-))

Plantain leaves are a typical tradition of South Indian cuisine. In olden days, food prepared was usually served in a cut, cleaned plantain leaf. A typical lunch would consist of a few rounds of short servings of rice, each accompanied with an array of curries. Eating from the leaf somehow adds a flavour and aroma to the dish. Nowadays, plantain leaves are mainly found in dinners during weddings or other festivals. Even in recent times, they are substituted with use and throw plates. Nevertheless some families still stick to the plantain leaf tradition. In Hindu customs, position of the various curries on the leaf is also significant.

Be it the aromatic Biriyani in an Islamic wedding or the beautiful array of vegetarian curries in a Hindu wedding, I just love feasting on a plantain leaf. My mother-in-law shares this liking too and so, she made this treat for us exclusively!!

The various curries you can see here are (clockwise): Mango pickle, Cabbage-Carrot poriyal, Keerai (Spinach Daal), Paavaikai theeyal (Bittergourd), Aviyal (a medley of various veggies like drumstick, brinjal, beans, plantain, etc.), Banana, Pappad, Rice with daal curry and Rajma kootu.

My first round was with dhaal and ghee over rice. Second round was with sambhar. The third with morkulambu (yoghurt gravy) and the final one with rasam :-) Yet there was Payasam too... No no no... Kannu poda koodadhu... :-D

I was so reminded about this on seeing the uploaded photos, that I craved for something like that. Though I'm not able to make everything like her, I just prepared a spicy garlic curry. We enjoyed having it along with beans poriyal. Since, a beans poriyal is relatively simpler to make, I'm just providing the recipe for the poondu kulambu below.

Preparation Time: 30 mins
Serves - 4
Onions – 2 medium sized
Garlic - 10 to 12 pods, preferably large sized
Tomatoes - 2
Chili powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Salt – as per taste
Tamarind juice - extracted out of a lemon sized ball
To sauté:
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Green chilies - 2 or 3

Chop the onions and tomatoes and keep aside. Slit the green chillies lengthwise. Soak tamarind in warm water and extract about one cup of juice out of the it.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. Add mustard seeds and when they splutter, add urad dal, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves.
Add the chopped onions and green chillies and saute until onions turn transparent. Now add the tomatoes and saute again. When tomatoes are cooked, mash them slightly. Now add the turmeric, coriander powder and chilli powder, salt and let them cook. Take care the spices dont get burnt. When the raw smell goes off and spices are cooked, add the garlic pods along with the tamarind juice. Now, keep in simmer and cover with a lid. Let the gravy cook for a few minutes in simmer until it gets thick. The garlic when cooked would be soft and it takes in all the tangy spiciness of the gravy. It would taste excellent. Enjoy this spicy poondu kuzhambu with freshly steamed white rice.

The ingredietns and the measurements given below are of my judgement. Please adjust to your palate accordingly. I'm sending this as an entry to the A.W.E.D Indian Cuisine, guest hosted by Taste of Pearl City. Though I'm late by a day, I sincerely hope she accepts :-))


  1. My goodness.I am totally obsessed with ur vazhai ilai and the food served in that.Love all and envy u dear.Kannu vechiten :)
    Lovely poondu kuzhambu

  2. Yummy dear,wat a spread...Iam totally hungry now:)

  3. Pramadham ellai shappadu - Lucky - not kan po-ting :) The indulgence only our parents can show us - Lovely memories :) and The poondu Kozhambu looks yummy - my amma made this soon after I delivered my babies because she said it promoted milk production in new mothers - Today is her birthday - thank you for making me remember her once again :)Lost her 3 yrs ago :((

  4. Very yummy recipe and nice write up...

  5. omg tht sadya just made me drool..i would love a meal like that any day :)

  6. Been ages i had food in vaazhai ilai..wat a wonderful spread..just drooling here..

    Fingerlicking kuzhambu,would love with rice and papads..

  7. That must have been truly a royal treat!! Looks too good!!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  8. i love the feast on vazhai illai and no kannu,coz even if i were there i would have gone the full throttle !

  9. I love the feast on Vazhai illai too:-_)what a spread!!!!!!!!1

  10. Bitte verzeih mir für mein Schweigen. Zuerst , vielen dank für die Korrektur über das Wort ‘aufgewachsen’. Jetzt errinere mich ich dass das richtige Wort aufgewachsen ist. Weisst du was meine Lehererin einmal gesagt hat? Sie sagte, “ Das Problem bei Ihnen ist dass ihr auf English denkt, dann versucht ihr es ins Deutsch zu übersetzen. Ich mochte früher schreiben aber mein Arm, well it hurts, deshalb bin ich not active on the net. Fischy – Aroma und deine Lehererin --- nein nicht Komisch, Ich habe bemerkt dass es viele gibt den das Aroma gefällt. I hope I have got the grammer right. BTW,was bedeutet Geschmackssache a matter of taste?
    Eating on a plantain leaf is also a tradition in Bengal but as you have pointed it is slowly making an exit.Sad and I love it when food is served on it , somehow I feel food tastes better.

  11. Love Love Love-- the Vazhayila feast we never miss an opportunity---especially for Onam... your Poondu Kozhambu looks atrociously good--- I love garlic :)
    Thanks for ur recipe

  12. That looks like a beautiful spread especially the fact that you probably had the whole family sitting around which makes it extra special !
    Beautifully written post..the garlic curry is definitely bookmarked :)

    US Masala

  13. beautiful.....vaazhai ilai la saapittu romba naal reminded me of all sweet memories I have...

  14. ok that meal on the vazha ela is making me so hungry :(

  15. Wow What a spread! I too love eating in plantain leaf .Eating in plantain leaf has health benefits also .When u serve hot food ,the leaf changes color and the nutrients(chlorophyll) from the leaf gets into our system. After seeing the spread ,I am craving to have a meal like that on a plantain leaf
    Garlic kulambu is my favorite.Looks great

  16. Excellent looking platter dear. Loved the look of it. Looks yummy.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  17. Ah, you make me crave for a sadhya now! Hey I'm glad you had a memorable vacation with good food and great company! Nothing can beat that, na?

  18. we're vazhayillai buddies!!!! i love kootu the best and that leaf looks ...oh so kerala!!

  19. Wow very nice and well presented. You remined me of my childhood days when we got food on banana leaf during Durga Pooja in Kolkatta..


  20. Lovely spread...makes me hungry. Loved your menu picks...very nice.

  21. Woh bist du? Lange Zeit kein(oder keine?)Post.Velleicht bist du beschäftigt.Looking forward to your posts.

  22. Hey dear- long time- missing your posts. Hope you guys are doing well- come back soon !
    Take care..
    US Masala

  23. Hi dear..I made "Poondu Kuzhambu" for this week Blog hop ,was really nice we enjoyed a lot.Thank u so much for dropping in my space :) Keep rocking.