Friday, April 23, 2010
Rava Pongal and Kathirikai Gothsu (Semolina Breakfast Dish with Eggplant)
Pongal is a traditional South Indian breakfast - in fact some people consider it to be completely Tamilian in origin. The way I have always had it at home is with rice and split moong lentils cooked together till just mushy and tempered in ghee with cracked pepper, cumin seeds and cashews and served with coconut chutney.
It was only after moving to Chennai in my 20s that I discovered other versions of our usual breakfasts at home. So, there was rava khichdi - which was basically the usual upma made with semolina, but with vegetables, tomatoes and garam masala added to it which made it different from the lighter version we made basic tempering of mustard, gram dal and onions along with maybe peas or carrot.
And then there was the rava pongal which I tasted on the way to Kodaikanal in 1996 - we had stopped at one of the TTDC (Tamil Nadu Tourist Development) restuarants just outside Trichy. It was a brand new car, two people newly in love - and the keys locked inside the car.
Since it was a new car, the duplicate key wasn't in its usual place, the wallet - so while we sweated and tried to get the central locking open (why is it that there are always 10 people around you giving advice on things while not actually doing anything concrete to help?!) it was getting hotter and more frustrating. Finally we gave up and my to-be hubby very sadly got out his trusty Swiss knife to cut out the quarter glass. Long story short, we reached Kodai with the window held together with duct tape and 13 years later, the love story is still going strong while the car went out of our lives after 9 years and some memorable road trips.
But this story is actually about the rava pongal and gothsu we ate at that TTDC restaurant - I had never tasted anything like that before and the combination of soothing semolina with a tangy eggplant was an immediate hit. And while I have often thought of it, have never got down to replicating it - after all what if the taste was enhanced by the flush of first love ;)
Nupur's event Blog Bites #2 - the Copy Cat edition made me think of it once again and I decided to make it for a weekend breakfast. The semolina and moong lentils make this quite filling and I would even suggest this as a brunch idea. The gothsu recipe I have adapted from Suganya's recipe from her blog Tasty Palette - my go-to blog for authentic Tamil cuisine recipes as well as some amazing ideas for baked and healthy vegetarian goodies. While her recipe has mixed veggies in it, I restricted mine to eggplants alone in order to recreate the dish I had so many years back.
The rava pongal recipe I retrieved from Red Chillies - again, thanks to RC's food blog aggregator I keep in touch with much of the blog world as I can. The recipe is truly "simple and easy" and got done in minutes - but I must warn you, don't get fooled by the quantity, less is more here and its quite a filling meal. Together the pongal and gothsu were a delicious combination!
So Thank you Suganya and Soma for helping me to go back in time and savour a piece of history - we smiled as we at the table day and thought back to that day and all those shared memories we have - isn't that what makes a relationship strong at the end of the day?
PS - Taking a small break now - am on a work trip till the 6th May and then on vacation till the 17th May. So, see you when I am back - be good people!!