Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Another day of the flour-less saga continues. I had to make something rice based as chapathi was out of question. I didn't have any suitable vegetables to make sambar and I did not feel like making rasam. That is when I remembered the bible of Tam Bram cooking (or should I say south Indian cooking?) - "Samaithu Paar" by Meenakshi Ammal! Something thats passed on by Iyer/Iyengar moms to their sons when they "go abroad" for higher studies or work and to their daughters when they get married! I have my copy too, infact one edition given by my m-i-l to DH (he hadn't bothered to open it ever!) .

While browsing through it, I came across a section that said "Keralite Recipes" and this is where I found my recipe for tonight's post. I made Kalan. Traditionally you can make it with yam and or plantains. I did not have any yam, but I did have plantains, so vazhakai kalan it was for dinner tonight!

While grinding coconut and green chillies for the recipe, I accidentally added a teaspoon of cumin seeds as well, which was not mentioned in the book. This happened because most kootu recipes that I make call for a paste of cumin seeds, green chillies and coconut. I could not do anything about it as it was too late to remove the cumin seeds from the paste, but you know what, I loved the taste nevertheless.

Another thing I changed was I added sour cream to the paste along with yogurt. The reason for this was that the recipe called for sour curds, which I did not have. Combining sour cream with yogurt seemed like the best substitute, and that's exactly what I did.

Instead of adding the paste separately then churning the yogurt and adding, I put everything into the blender together and gave it a good spin. Certainly made things easier that way...

Preparation & Cooking: 20 minutes                    Serves: 2-3

Plantains/Vazhakai - 2 big ones or 4 small ones
Yogurt - 2 cups
Sour Cream - 2 tablespoons
Haldi/Turmeric Powder - ¼ teaspoon
Salt - to taste
To be ground to a paste:
Green chillies - 3-4
Cumin/Jeera Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Coconut - 2 heaped tablespoons, grated
For the Tempering:
Coconut Oil - 1 tablespoon
Mustard Seeds - 1 teaspoon
Fenugreek Seeds - ¼ teaspoon
Red Chillies - 2-3
Curry Leaves - a few

  • Peel and cube the plantains.
  • In a vessel add the cubed plantains, turmeric powder, salt and some water and bring it to a boil.
  • Reduce the flame and let it boil the the plantains turn soft and  are loved thoroughly.
  • In the meantime, grind the green chillies, cumin seeds and coconut together.
  • Make it into a smooth paste using some of the water from the boiling plantains if necessary.
  • Now add in the yogurt and sour cream as well and blend thoroughly.
  • Once the plantains are cooked, add this yogurt mixture and mix well.
  • Lower the flame and stir constantly, otherwise the yogurt will curdle.
  • While it is cooking, heat oil in  a separate vessel and add the tempering ingredients. When the seeds splutter, take them off the heat add add this tempering to the cooked plantains.

Yummy Delicious Kalan is ready! Serve hot with rice and a vegetable side dish.


  1. yum!!! I want to try this but is there anything else I can put in place of varakay/chenai?

    1. Hey Shilpa, the "Samaithu Paar" book said these are the two veggies traditionally used. But since we are into "innovations" and inspirations" and this is very much like our mor khuzambu, I think you could go ahead and try it with bhindi, arbi or white pumpkin! Let me know how the substitution works...

  2. we do add cummin seeds to the coconut paste for kalan in Kerala atleast in the part that i belong to. Kerala bananas and white pumpkin are also used but not the ordinary raw banana

    1. Good to know Leila. Would love to try out with Kerala bananas if I can get them...

  3. hi Rosemary ,will for sure, came across you lovely blog just today


Hi there! Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog! Feel free to drop a line and keep me motivated...