My Recipe Book

Banana Leaf at Home

If you are Malaysian or Singaporean, then you will definitely know the pleasure of having a banana leaf dinner. For others, it is just known as a South Indian meal or Chettinad food.

Whatever you may want to call it, bottom line is that I was craving for the spicy, flavour filled meal and there is no way we could go out and indulge during the lockdown, so the only alternative was to make it at home.

I decided to put together a meal of rice, vegetable sambar, masala chicken, cucumber salad with a yoghurt dressing and papadums.

Something else I would love to add to my meal is the much needed fried bitter gourd but alas, I had none of that at home BUT I will leave you the recipe all the same – I mean, why deprive you of something so essential to south Indian food just because I could not have it?

VEGETABLE SAMBAR

If you are making a proper South Indian meal, then at least to us, sambar or the lentil curry is one of the most important dishes. It has an assortment of vegetables which are cooked in the lentil gravy, making this dish the base of a super delicious meal.

Sambar

1/2 cup Bombay lentils (toor dhall)

Spices for sambar
1 Tbsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp chilli powder (or less)
2 pinches of asafoetida (hing)

Spices for tempering
5 dried chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 pinch fenugreek seeds
6 curry leaves
3 cloves chopped garlic

Vegetables
1 eggplant
5 ladies fingers
3 Indian drumsticks
2 potatoes
2 carrots
6 long beans
1 tomato (or you can use tamarind water)
1 large onion

Method

  • Mix
  • Sambar
    Wash the dhall a few times and add in 2 cups of water. Pressure cook for 15 – 20 minutes or until smooth.
  • Vegetables
    Cut vegetable into sticks and the onions and tomatoes into chucks for consistency
    In a separate pot, sauté the garlic and add in the vegetables in the length of time taken to cook, starting with the potatoes and carrots and gradually all the vegetables and ending with the eggplant.
    Once all the vegetables are added, add in the dhall gravy and allow to simmer until cooked. Dry until desired consistency is achieved.
  • Tempering
    In a pan, add some ghee or oil, add in the asafoetida, red chillies, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds. Allow to cook until fragrant. Pour into the dhall and mix well giving it another boil.

Rice

3 cups rice cooked as usual but with a pinch of salt

Papadums

This is something you want to fry more of than you think you will need because these are so addictive!!
Fry papadums in a little oil, just enough to cover the papadum as this oil will need to be thrown away after use. You will see why!

FRIED BITTER GOURD

Again fry more than you think you will need as they are going to be devoured. The crispiness it will add to each bite is like nothing other.

2 large bitter gourd cut into rounds (approximately 4 cups)
2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp chilli powder
1 Tbsp garam masala
1/2 cup besan
1/2 cup rice flour

Method:

  • Mix the sliced bitter gourd with the first two ingredients and allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  • After 30 minutes, wash thoroughly and then squeeze gently until all excess water is removed.
  • Place in a bowl, and add in all the spices mentioned. Add salt ONLY if required
  • Deep fry in a pan on a medium flame (in hot oil) until crispy.
  • Drain and keep in airtight container until used.

CUCUMBER SALAD

This salad is what is going to help cut down the spiciness of the other dishes. The dressing is made from yoghurt which cools the palate. So do not omit this dish in your South Indian meal.

Salad

1 cucumber – cut into squares / cubes (do not use the seedy parts)
1 carrot – either cut into cubes or grated
1 onion – chopped
1 green chilli – chopped
1 sprig coriander – finely chopped
1 slice of pineapple – cubed

Put together all the salad ingredients

Dressing

1/4 cup yoghurt
a few Tbsp cold water
1 lemon – juiced
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients

To assemble:
Just mix everything and keep chilled until ready to be used.

So between this spicy, warm dishes and the crispy dishes and the chilled cooling dish, prepare for a feast. Prepare to overeat and do not feel guilty because this is not an everyday meal for most of us!!