Madurai – Arguably has the most glorious history of all the Indian cities and conjures up images of so many many things for me – the Meenakshi Amman Temple, crowded roads, my Alma Mater, the station, KPN Bus Stand where I have spent many hours patiently waiting to board the bus which would take me back to Madras, mountains of freshly strung jasmine flowers and hawkers selling them, Dindigul Road where we used to go to buy books etc, and so many many things, As far as being a foodie goes, Madurai was literally food heaven -My favourites here are too many but still I am going to try to put them down as each name brings forth memories that have been buried in the back shelves of my brain! British Bakery, Hotel Guru Prasad, New College House, Hotel Supreme, the Idli Kadai close to my hostel which would dish out steaming hot Idlis in record time accompanied with mint and tomato chutneys, Raja Barley when I would get my favourite macroons and “Kuchi Muttai”, the mess hotel near the station, the bakery near my hostel, and finally the Nagapattinam Nei Mittai Kadai close to the temple.
This store is probably more than 60 years old but have maintained their quality and their demand. Their all time favourites are their Wheat Halwa which is served in dried lotus leaves piping hot, and the “Kizhangu Pottlam”. Literally translated to parcelled potatoes, these are deliriously spicy potato preparation thats only available for an hour in the mornings. People apparently bought them as a substitute when they are unable to cook the vegetable side at home. They simply buy a packet and almost used to function like a packet of chips would do in the present day. My mother used to have it when she was a little girl and her dad bought it for her. I had heard so much about this preparation and on my recent trip to India, I actually got a chance to try it. It was incredibly spicy yet delicious. I did recreate it at home but had to downgrade the spice levels on account of the kids 😦
1 Big Onion sliced long and thin.
4-5 Potatoes Boiled with salt.
1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder.
2 Tsp Red Chilli Powder.
2 Tsp Besan/ Kadalai Maavu/ Gram Flour.
Salt to taste if needed.
Oil as needed.
A pinch of Kari Masaal ( Garam Masala)
1 Tsp Mustard.
1 tsp Broken Urad Dhal.
2 Red Chillies broken in to half.
10 Curry Leaves torn.
4-5 Grated Garlic.
1 Tsp Grated Ginger.
3 Tsp Fennel Seeds.
- Mash the potatoes after removing the skin from it and patting it dry. Set aside.
- Slice the onions in to thin yet not too long pieces.
- In a kadai, add 2-3 tbsp oil and allow it to heat up. This recipe has the gramflour added at the end, which might make it dry so its imperative that we don’t scrimp on the oil that’s used for seasoning.
- Add the mustard seeds and when they splutter, add the broken urad dhal, fennel seeds,ginger, garlic and curry leaves. Instantly the aroma of fried fennel seeds wafts in the air and that’s the time you tip the diced onions in.
- Saute until slightly brown and then add the roughly mashed potatoes.
- Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder and adjust salt if needed.
- Mix them up roughly and when they come together, add the 2 Tsp of besan and a pinch of Garam masala powder to make them bind with each other.
- Garnish with another spoon of oil and a chopped cilantro.
- Serve hot with Vengaya Sambar, Tomato Rasam and Curd Rice.