Every state in India has its own version of thali meal. A thali meal is a complete meal with many components, including rice, lentils, curries, soups, stir fries, deep fried sides, desserts and pickles. Tamilnadu’s meal looks something like this :
The thali meal cooked at homes on regular days usually has 2 or 3 vegetable sides and on special days the meal is prepared with 4 or 5 vegetable sides and the wedding thali meals come with about 7 or 8 sides. Bigger the occasion, more the number of sides. The beauty of the meal is that each side is cooked by a different method of cooking. There are thorans (stir fries), koottu (vegetables cooked with lentils), varuvals (vegetables shallow or deep fried with jacked up spices), aviyal (a wet mix of a combination of vegetables cooked in a yogurt and coconut base) and then the podimas or puttu (steamed and shredded vegetables with coconut seasoning).
Here is the method of preparation for podimas (which is also called as ‘puttu’ sometimes). I have used raw plantains for this recipe, this can also be done with potatoes or carrots or yam. This is a very simple recipe, but the trick is to get the texture right.
- I am using “naattu vazhakkai”, the unripened plantains that we get in Indian stores. Any green plantain can be used.
- Steam the plantains with their skin on, either in a steam basket or in an idli maker. You can also drop them in boiling water and cook for 5 minutes. If the plantains are overcooked, the dish wont turn out that great. Once the plantains are steamed , allow them to cool down completely , peel off their skins and grate them. If you are using potatoes, shred the steamed potatoes with hands instead of grating, and avoid using the potato masher.
- For seasoning , you’ll need :
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Urad dal – 1 tsp
- channa dal – 1 tsp
- cumin – 1 tsp
- fennel – 1 tsp (optional)
- onions – 1 medium , chopped
- green chillies – 4 or 5 (use red pepper flakes instead)
- minced ginger – 2 tsp
- curry leaves – few
- grated coconut – 3 tbsp
- In a pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil and splutter the mustard seeds, fry channa dal and urad dal to golden, fry the cumin and fennel. Saute the ginger, onions, green chillies and curry leaves.
- Once the onions brown lightly, add the grated coconut, toast for a few seconds and turn off the heat.
- Add the grated plantains to the pan and mix gently with the seasoning. Make sure the heat is off while you are doing this. The shredded plantains are delicate as they are already steamed, continuing to heat or going hard with the spatuala can easily mush them. This is the most important step in the recipe. Gently mix everything together, and then turn the heat back on to warm the podimas.
And now your podimas is ready to be served as a side to rice and curry. This goes well with any curry like sambar or rasam , but my favorite way to serve this is to pair up
with super spicy curries like vattha kuzhambu, kara kuzhambu or pulusu.
As I said already, this is just a method pf preparation, try to cook your favorite vegetables this way and let me know how it goes 🙂
This is a very mild side. If you are looking for a spicy plantain recipe check out Spicy Plantains.