When cooking Kerala food, I turn for guidance to Chechi, my son-in-law’s mother ,a wonderful human being and a cook par excellence. Everything she cooks is exquisite and brings forth the quintessential flavors of Kerala. Whenever we go to their home,unfailingly we are treated to a sumptuous ‘sadya’ and every dish – olan, avial, kalan, sambar, erissery, pachadi, kichadi……… bears her signature and deft touch. Here I bring you one of her dishes, Kalan.
Traditionally, ‘Sadya’ is a spread of vegetarian cuisine served during festivals, weddings and other special occasions. It is a menu fit for a king and a feast for our tastebuds. Kalan is one of the main dishes served at sadyas.
Serves: 6 Preparation Time : 20 mins Cooking time: 45mins
- Curd ( beaten) – 2 cups
- Raw plantain / kaaya / nenthrakkaya – 1
- Chena / yam – 1 cup
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Pepper (fresh,coarsely ground) – 11/2 tsp
- Chilli powder – 1/4 teaspoon
- Salt – to taste
- Coconut – 1/2 grated
- Curd – 1 cup
- Jeera seeds / Cumin – 1/2 tsp
- Green Chillies – 2
- Coconut oil – 1 tbsp
- Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Methi / Uluva seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Curry leaves – 1 stalk
- Dry red chillies – 2, cut in two
- Cut the chena and kaaya (raw banana) into square pieces (about 1 and a half inch at the sides, thickness about 1/4 inch)
- Put this in a pan with just enough water to cover it. Add pepper, chilli powder and turmeric powder. Cook for about 10 mins or till the pieces are cooked well, but not very soft. Keep aside.
- In a mixer, grind together very finely coconut, jeera, and green chillies adding curd, in small quantities at a time. Add this extra fine paste to the cooked vegetables.
- Put this on low heat. Keep stirring till hot, but do not allow it to boil.
- Add salt and the rest of the curd to this, stirring all the time . Simmer for five minutes or until it thickens and take off heat.
- Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard. When it pops, add methi seeds. When methi becomes light brown, add curry leaves and dry red chillies . Add this as garnish.
Kalan is ready for serving ! Bon Appetit !
- When grinding the coconut paste, add curd in small quantities to ensure smooth grinding.
- Add thick curd while making kalan, it adds body to the dish.( I use Amul Masti Dahi)
- After adding curd, keep it on low heat to avoid curdling.
Quick Tip: If you don’t have egg in the house and are making fried fish or cutlets, you can use a paste of flour and milk instead. Brush fish or cutlets with this and as usual, roll in crumbs.
Quick Snack: Take 1 cup of beaten curd in a bowl and keep it aside. Grate half cup of cucumber, add salt and allow to rest for 10 minutes .Stir chopped green chilli and grated cucumber( discarding the juice) well with the curd. Now there’s a great dip for crackers and chips.