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Traditional South Indian Cuisine

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Learn all about traditional South Indian cuisine with Manju!

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Learn all about traditional South Indian cuisine with Manju! See how this busy working mom gets dinner on the table every night. 

Kallappam

How do you manage being a working mom and getting dinner on the table?

Both my mom and my mother-in-law are working moms. My mom was a Nurse in a multi-national hospital and my mother-in-law works for a Television broadcast network (Doordarshan) and they managed to have a perfect work-life balance. They are my role models and I’m doing everything I can to make it just as good for my family too.

Let me be honest and say, it’s not always an easy task. All I would have loved to do after a busy day at work would be to just curl up on my couch with a cup of tea and watch TV. But that’s not the reality now, is it? I’ve learned that with a little planning ahead and some prep work, getting dinner on the table on busy week nights is not such a scary task at all.

I do a bit of the prep work for the week ahead on Saturday/Sunday and use it as needed over the week. Here are a few examples:

  • I make sure all groceries for the week ahead is completed by Sunday. Sometimes I even chop up some of the veggies that I plan to make over the week and store them in the fridge/freezer.
  • I chop up fish fillets or chicken/meat into smaller pieces or, depending on how I plan to use them, store them in individual bags (marinated or not) in the freezer. When I need to use them, I leave them in the fridge before I leave for the day to thaw and use them in the evening after I return.
  • We use a lot of coconut in our cooking and my son’s loves fresh coconut, so grating fresh coconut for a week or two and freezing them is another task on weekends.
  •  Being south-indian we eat a lot of Idli or Dosa, so making fresh Idli or Dosa batter is a must and it’s a total time-saver on busy weeknights and my son loves it.
  • Apart from all the prep work, I even cook up a few dishes that will last us a day or two and we box any leftovers from dinner for lunch; eating out is restricted to weekends or Fridays. I also make sure that my pantry is stocked up with Pasta/Noodles, Canned Tuna, Tomato paste, Coconut Milk, Dried herbs, Spices etc in case we are in the mood to eat something other than our regular south-indian meals. I always use fresh seasonal ingredients and cook/bake from scratch most of the time.

herb and cheese pull-apart bread

What can you tell us about Indian cooking? How is it different from other styles of cooking?

Indian cooking is very versatile, aromatic and colorful. In my opinion, the world is still blind to the varieties and flavors that Indian cooking has to offer. Apart from the familiar north-indian and south-indian dishes there’s also an east-indian and west-indian cuisine which hasn’t been heard about as much. It’s so diverse that even within the same state in India the cooking styles and tastes are different. That’s what makes Indian cooking so unique and exquisite.

Traditional Indian cooking is mostly done ‘from-scratch’. The concept of using canned food like canned tomato paste or ready-made ginger-garlic paste etc is quite rare. Using aromatic whole spices, fresh herbs and fresh seasonal ingredients is key to the success of a tasty and healthy Indian cooked meal. The variety of Vegetarian food that you get in Indian cuisine cannot be found in any other world cuisine. Sometimes from the roots of a plant to the stem, every leaf and fruit is utilized and developed into multiple dishes.

Fish Curry and Raw mango Drumsticks with Coconut Gravy

What are your most popular Indian recipes that everyone loves eating?

My usual go-to dish that I love to serve my family and friends is Chicken Biriyani and it has never ceased to please anyone. Several blog readers and friends have tried my Spicy Tuna Fish Cutlets, Kerala style Chicken Fry and Kallapam recipe and shared lots of positive feedback. My dad’s Chicken Dry Roast was a huge hit among my friends and guests whenever we have get-togethers. Another popular dish on the blog for which I have received lots of positive feedback is the Fish curry with Raw Mango and Drumsticks in spicy Coconut gravy, a typical Kerala style fish curry preparation. Also simple vegetarian dishes like Carrot Thoran (Carrot stir fry) or Pumpkin Erissery (Pumpkin cooked in coconut sauce) have been well received and even my son loves to eat it with plain white rice and some yogurt.

Chicken Dry Roast

Which recipes does your son always request? Do you have any kid-friendly recipes?

My son loves to try out new dishes. He is picky at times but always open to trying new food and often eats everything that I’ve cooked.  A few of his favorites that he always eats without fuss and those I would recommend as kid-friendly recipes from my blog are Buttermilk Pancakes, Sakkara Pongal, Instant Rava Dosa, Semiya-Sago payasam, Chocolate Pudding etc. He also loves to eat everything I bake and some of his favorites were my Herbs and Cheese Pull-apart bread, Chocolate Zucchini cookies, Banana bread, Tres Leches Cake, Chocolate Banana cupcakes, his birthday cake and a lot more that I have yet to share on the blog :-)

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes

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Manju's FamilyMeet the blogger:

Hi there! I’m Manju, a working mom to a bubbly two-year-old boy Manav (aka lil’Appu), married to my childhood sweetheart, Manish, and living the dream in my cozy new home in Minneapolis. I work as an IT Professional for a reputed company during the day and by night I play with my son, cook for my family and try to make the best out of my life. I am a south-Indian, from the beautiful state of Kerala, but I was born in Saudi where I did my schooling, completed my high school in Dubai, college in Kerala, started my career in Bangalore (India), got married, worked and lived in Chennai (India) for a year before we packed up our bags and shifted to Minneapolis, USA and we’ve been here for couple of years now.

I have always been a foodie thanks to all the multi-national cuisines I got to enjoy growing up but never had to cook until I got married. Cooking was a necessity after marriage, but I found it very interesting and I enjoyed experimenting with various ingredients, flavors & textures and now I bake a lot too and I used to take photographs of the food I cooked to show my parents and in-laws back in India. Then I realized it would be nice to store it all somewhere in one place and I started my blog ‘Manju’s Eating Delights’ to share my passion for cooking, baking, and photography. My recipes are simple and very homely, some are my own, some borrowed from my mom, mother-in-law and friends, some are random experiments of recipes that piqued my interest while browsing online or from cookbooks and in the end I believe, if I can cook then so can you. I love sharing stories revolving around my family and the food that I’ve cooked or sharing details on what motivated me to try the dish, how it turned out etc. My favorite hobby apart from blogging or taking pictures of my son is cake baking and decoration. It’s a self-taught art that I’m proud of and I’ve shared a couple of my creations on the blog as well.

Manju's Eating Delights | Manju's Eating Delights | Twitter | Pinterest

 

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