Yam Curry

Yam Curry

Amorphophallus paeoniifolius or elephant foot yam, known as chena in Malayalam and jimikand in Hindi, makes a really tasty curry when cooked with coconut and tamarind. I love the texture of yam and eat this curry with freshly steamed idlis or crispy dosas.


(Serves 4)

Yam 300 g, sliced long

Red chilli powder 1 tsp

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Fresh coconut 1 cup, grated

Green chillies 2

Onion 1 medium, roughly chopped

Tamarind pulp 1 tbsp or soak about half a lemon-sized lump in water for 15 minutes and extract the pulp

Curry leaves

Coconut oil 1 tsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp


Add the yam pieces with the dry spices and salt to a pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover the yam and cook for 10 minutes — 3 whistles on high heat and low heat for about 8 minutes.

Grind the coconut, chopped onion and green chillies in a blender. Add to the cooked yam.

Add the tamarind pulp and curry leaves and cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Adjust the salt to taste. Switch off the heat.

Heat the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. When it stops sputtering, add to the curry.

Serve hot with rice, idlis or dosas.

Fried Chinese Potatoes (Koorka)

Fried Chinese Potatoes (Koorka)

The tuber known as koorka or Chinese potato in Kerala — botanical name Coleus rotundifolius — is a perennial herb native to Africa. I remember my mother making it occasionally and revelling in the delicious taste and firm texture of the dish. The Chinese potato is neither from China nor is it a potato. It belongs to the mint family.

I rarely cook it as it is difficult to clean and peel and leaves ugly black stains on the fingers. In Kerala, however, now you can get it delivered cleaned, peeled and sliced. So I cooked it and enjoyed both the cooking and the eating.


Koorka or Chinese potato 200 g, sliced

Garlic cloves 3, crushed

Onion 1 medium, sliced

Curry leaves, a few sprigs

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Chilli flakes 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Coconut oil 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp


Steam the koorka with salt and turmeric powder in 1/2 cup water in a pressure cooker for two whistles. Let the cooker cool naturally and open it. Continue to cook till the water evaporates.

Heat the coconut oil in a wok and add the mustard seeds.

When they stop sputtering, add the onions.

Add the garlic and curry leaves.

Add the cooked koorka and the chilli flakes.

Cook on low heat till the koorka is slightly crisp on the outside.

Serve with chapatis or rice.

Kerala Lemon Pickle

Kerala Lemon Pickle

It is lemon season and this year has been a bumper crop. A great way to preserve lemons for the rest of the year is to pickle them. This is a spicy pickle that goes well with rice and yoghurt.


Lemons 8

Salt 1 tbsp

Til oil or sesame oil 1/2 cup

Turmeric powder 1 tsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Fenugreek seeds 1 tsp

Ginger 1” piece, finely chopped

Garlic 5 cloves, finely chopped

Green chillies 2, finely chopped

Curry leaves 5-6 sprigs

Red chilli powder 1 tbsp

Asafoetida powder 1/2 tsp

White vinegar 1 tbsp


Wash and dry the lemons.

Take 2 tablespoons of til oil in a wok and fry the lemons in it. Use til oil from the Indian grocery shops. You can’t use sesame oil that you use for salads or for Asian cooking.

Fry the lemons for 2 minutes, stirring all the while. See that the lemons don’t break.

Cool the lemons and chop each lemon into four pieces.

Add salt and turmeric and toss it well.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok and heat it on medium flame. If the wok becomes too hot, remove from the flame and once it cools a bit, return it to the stove.

Add the mustard seeds. When they stop sputtering, add the fenugreek seeds.

Add the chopped garlic, ginger and green chillies. Separate the curry leaves and add to the wok.

Add the red chilli powder and asafoetida powder. Sauté for a few seconds.

Add the lemons and toss well. Add the vinegar and switch off the heat.

When the pickle has cooled down completely, transfer to sterilised bottles.

Add the rest of the til oil and close tight.

Let it rest for two days. Once you open the bottle, refrigerate it.

Kerala Mutton fry

Kerala Mutton fry

Kerala cuisine is known for its meat and seafood and this is a family favourite. I have adapted it from the popular Beef Fry.

The recipe has flavours more familiar to Trivandrum and its environs as I developed it along with my husband, who belonged to the city. This goes well with Kerala Porotta — I have spelt it as it is pronounced in Kerala — and a basic green salad of onions and green chillies. The drink I would suggest is Kerala buttermilk. Of course, a typical local would suggest beer.


(To serve two persons)

Mutton 500 g, cubed
Onions 2 or 20 shallots, thinly sliced
Green chillies 2, cut on a slant
Ginger 1 inch piece
Garlic 3 cloves
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
Red chilli powder 1 tbsp
Coriander powder 2 tbsp
Pepper powder 1 tbsp
Meat masala 1 tsp
Garam masala 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves a few sprigs
Coconut slices 1/2 cup
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Coconut oil 2 tbsp
Salt to taste


Cook the cleaned mutton cubes with salt, pepper powder and meat masala with about 1/2 cup water in the pressure cooker. Switch off the gas after two whistles and let it rest.

Heat the oil in a shallow thick-bottomed pan and add the mustard seeds. When it stops sputtering, add a few of the curry leaves, onions and green chillies. Fry till the onions become translucent. Crush the ginger and garlic in a pestle and add to the pan. Saute till the raw smell of the ginger-garlic paste recedes.

Reduce the flame and add the chilli powder and coriander powder and fry for a few seconds. Add the steamed mutton. Add turmeric and garam masala. Cook the mutton till the water dries up, stirring it frequently to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Heat some oil in a small frying pan and fry the coconut slices and the rest of the curry leaves. Add to the thickened mutton curry and continue to fry till all the water evaporates. By now each mutton piece should be well coated with the masala.

Serve hot with porotta, rice or soft bread.