Recently, my uncle S did a very sweet thing and gave our entire family an incredible gift. He uploaded some really old and rare pictures on the internet and sent us all a link to it, enabling us to get a glimpse into a world and a time that we have never experienced. I looked at these rare pictures, and it seemed to me like discovering a treasure, each picture was so enthralling that I spent a lot of time going over them again and again.
As I was looking at those sepia toned pictures, I wondered how life would have been in those days. No televisions, no cell phones, no telephones, definitely seemed a lot more simpler. R is absolutely convinced that life in those days was much simpler and much better than our current times. I am a little ambiguous about this, though I realize that life seemed simpler those days and now it seems like a fast paced race, there are some aspects of our times that I cannot imagine living without. For example, telephones and cell phones can be a pain at times,but it keeps me connected with my family, no matter where they are at the moment, at the touch of a button. Only the existence of internet made it possible for my uncle to send us these pictures and for me to communicate with all of you :-) I also sincerely believe that although those days seem simple and uncomplicated, even then, people had their own challenges to overcome, just as we do now. To all of my readers,I would love to hear your opinion on this subject, so do share your thoughts on this, do you think you would have preferred life in "those" days, pre television and pre telephone or are you happy with the modern "conveniences" and cannot live without them.
Now moving on from pictures of an earlier time to a recipe that has been handed down through time, a traditional southern Indian recipe called Cabbage poricha kozhambu which means cabbage in coconut lentil gravy. This simple, humble, wholesome and tasty dish is versatile enough to be used as a curry to go with Indian flat breads (Rotis/Phulkas) or as a dhal and served over rice or if you do not want to prepare anything else, just try this as a hearty soup, this dish will not disappoint.
Ingredients and method to make cabbage poricha kozhambu
3/4 cup split pigeon peas /tur dhal (pressure cooked in 1 cup of water until soft)
4 cups finely cut cabbage
water as required to cook the cabbage and for the gravy.
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp of salt or according to taste
3 tbsp coconut freshly grated or frozen thawed to room temperature
1/2 tsp whole black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 dry red chillies (or according to taste)
8 large curry leaves (optional)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp split black gram dhal (udad dhal)
pinch of asafoetida (hing) (optional)
Cook pigeon peas/ tur dhal in 1 cup of water in a pressure cooker until soft and mushy (usually takes me about 3 whistles) and keep it aside.
Place the finely cut cabbage along with turmeric powder and salt in a heavy bottomed water along with sufficient water and let the cabbage cook.
In the meanwhile grind together coconut, whole black pepper, cumin seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies along with a little water to a fine paste.
When the cabbage is cooked, add the mashed cooked lentils and the ground coconut paste.
Add water to achieve required consistency. Allow this mixture to simmer for a few minutes so that the flavors get blended together.
Adjust salt to taste if required.
Heat oil and add mustard seeds and split black gram to it. When the mustard seeds splutter and the black gram lentil turns reddish, add a pinch of asafoetida (if using) and pour the oil + mustard seeds + black gram lentil mixture on the kozhambu and mix well.
Serve hot with Indian Flat bread/ Roti or phulka or Plain rice with appalams/ papaddums or chips on the side.
Serves approximately 3-4
You can also used the stove top to cook the lentils, just cook it in a heavy bottomed pan with sufficient water until soft and mushy.
This traditional South Indian favorite of mine is off to WYF : Cuisine Event being hosted by EC