The "Pure Vegetarian" tag for all South Indians is a misnomer - just like all South Indians are not Madrasis. (Yes, Mr Haldiram - please stop calling your product "Madrasi Mixture"?) Husband's maternal side for instance is quite the meat eating family (except for his mother who is a pure vegetarian and hence he - like me- was vegetarian growing up). In many families, meals are not complete with "atleast" an egg - thus leading to the queer combination of (for me) rice, sambar, rasam, porial and omelette!!
Sunday meals then, are usually the ones which have a variety of meat, chicken and fish dishes in . I didn't understand for a long time, why everyone from my in-laws side who used to call us up on a Sunday would enquire about the lunch menu - were they worried about my husband's diet?. I realised later, that it was a blanket question - a way of keeping in touch - if you know what's cooking, you can judge whether everything is fine....or something like that. Well, anyway, there never was meat at Sunday lunch for a very long time in our home (even now its probably just once or twice a month), so not sure what they thought about that.
Growing up, idlis in our vegetarian home, always went with sambar and chutney. I was quite taken aback therefore when I moved to Chennai and learnt that chicken curry was an option too. I'm still quite happy with our largely vegetarian breakfasts but some Sundays, if I'm organised enough to have ground the batter for the idlis AND have chicken in my fridge at the same time, we have a nice, big breakfast of soft,steaming idlis with chicken curry.
The chicken curry however, can't be any generic curry - it has to be mild enough so that I'm not put off by too many spices in the morning. But it also has to be delicious and not just taste of the chicken in it. Enter a coconut based curry - more specifically, the restaurant style sidedish (try this for a vegetarian option which is equally delicious)I posted before. I had adapted it from Sailu's Kitchen in the first place and now its been modified some more. Its still delicious though and is the perfect accompaniment to idlis or even dosais.
Idli (feeds 4 for two days)Ingredients
Chicken Curry (with coconut and tomatoes)
Parboiled Rice - 2 cup
Urad Dal (whole, skinned) - 1 cup
I usually make dosais on the second day from the same batter, so add a pinch of methi seeds to the rice while soaking
Soak the rice and dal separately overnight or for 4-5 hours
Grind the rice, leaving it a little bit coarse.
The urad dal needs to be ground till really smooth and fluffly. So grind slowly and adding water only as needed.
If grinding in a blender, grind in batches and give breaks so that it doesn't overheat.
Blend the rice batter and the urad dal batter together incorporating air into it while doing so. I usually use my hands to do this. Add salt to the batter to taste.
Keep in a vessel double the volume of the batter, because it will double as it ferments. Leave overnight to ferment.
The next day, grease an idli stand and fill each mould 3/4ths of the way up with the idli batter (for idlis, I don't mix the batter and just skim from the top of the risen batter).
Steam in a pressure cooker without the whistle or in an idli maker or any other big vessel which can accomodate the idli stand - 5 minutes on high and 5 minutes on a low flame. Rest for 5 minutes and then unmould.
Chicken Curry (with coconut and tomatoes)
2 onions, sliced
3 medium tomatoes, in 4 pieces
Chicken - 300 gm, boneless, cut into 1" pieces. I like to marinate the chicken for about an hour in turmeric powder(1/4tsp), salt and ginger garlic paste (1 tsp) - a tbsp of yoghurt is great too
Dry roast and grind:
poppy seeds (khus khus) - 1 tsp (soaked in warm water for 15 minutes)
2-3 cashewnuts (soaked in warm water for 15 minutes)
1/4 cup grated coconut
Grind to a paste :
1 " ginger piece
3 green chillies
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder (dhania)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
1/4 tsp cumin powder (jeera)
pinch of garam masala powder
1 cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods (elaichi)
1 Heat oil in a pan and add cloves, cinnamon,curry leaves and cardamom. When they change colour (about 2 minutes) add onions and fry till transparent.
2.Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli paste, fry for 2-3 minutes. Add red chilli powder, turmeric,coriander and cumin powders and mix well.
3. Add the marinated chicken and stir fry on high for 5 minutes.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for 3 minutes. Put in the coconut-cashew paste and fry for 5 minutes on a low flame, stirring from time to time.
5. Add salt, 2 cups of water and bring to boil; lower flame and simmer for 20-25 minutes till the chicken is cooked and the curry turns creamy. Remove from flame and serve with idlis.