It’s the season of Advent and the noyambu starts. As a norm, for the 24 days to Christmas we do not eat meat or fish. So it’s all veg food plus eggs till Christmas.
The cooking during these days is both easy and challenging; easy as veg meals 🥕🍅 can be prepared in a relatively shorter time esp. since we can skip the defrosting and marination which are necessary while cooking non-veg. But with the non-veg removed from the menu, finding suitable veg substitutes and variety is definitely a challenge. And so these days paneer and mushrooms are suddenly elevated to higher status ordinarily reserved for meat and fish 😊. Potatoes 🥔 otherwise ignored also rises to prominence during the noyambu times; it’s tasty and comforting; if there is nothing else a simple dish of potato (urulakizhangu) stir try (mezhukku) will suffice as an accompaniment to rice or chapati.
Yes, we miss the mutton, fish and chicken, esp. during the weekends when we always ordered in a chicken fried rice from our nearby restaurant. Now it’s a veg pulao 😌. I tried making mushroom fried rice as a substitute; doesn’t quite match the restaurant Chinese fare in taste though !
Breakfast however follows the uninterrupted routine, we haven’t let go fo the eggs 🍳. It’s the lunch and dinner that needs a plan. I need a plan because at times, all the dishes during a meal ended up having the same colour – most of the time it’s green✳️.
One such dinner was spinach (palak) roti, lady’s finger mezhukku (stir fry) and palak paneer gravy, all green😬
Colour coded meals are no fun; you need a variety in colour and texture. And so it’s during such noyambu times that I look beyond the usual repertoire of vegetables that we are accustomed to. And when the non veg dishes come back, I settle back to the usual veggies.
Veg dishes always had supporting role to the non-veg dishes in the meal and now when they have to hold their own, the have to have something extra to offer ! Like the haricot beans (mezhukku) stir fry; it can be made on it’s own and even more tastier by adding small coconut pieces when frying the shallots, before adding the beans. Biting into fried crunchy coconut piece is a special treat😋 but extracting the coconut pieces is a laborious process 😏.
Now is also the time, when I make some of the less frequented veg dishes like a cauliflower and brinjal (mezhukku) stir fry. On the normal days, it’s potato and cauliflower (aloo gobi) stir fry. The brinjal it drinks up a lot of oil while cooking, so it is not a regular buy. But now-a-days, brinjal is a welcome change, it’s pulp soft and rich with oil and flavours.
Or when tired of eggs in the morning; a coconut & coriander chutney and butter sandwich is an alternative 🥪.
For gravy with rice, sambar is the preferred choice, the lentil plus vegetables cooked to perfection is filling and tasty. Pappadams and ground coconut chutney which makes a special appearance during the noyambu days makes the meal special. Rice itself changes colour – plain Kerala matta rice, tomato rice, jeera rice, lemon rice bring variety.
With chapatis again for gravy chickpeas (channa) curry or lentils (dal) curry are a must; nano soya chunks curry is another alternative. Another lip smacking dish is the kofta curry; the koftas can be made with paneer as the hero or with mixed veg; a dish that comes into existence only when we seek vegetarian fare.
Here’s a snap of a veg lunch – Peas pulao, tomato curry for gravy, yam mezhukku and salad. If you didn’t have your quota of two eggs for breakfast, an omelette would be a perfect addition 😋
The tomato curry has onion with grated and ground coconut in it; no spice powders are added and hence the blush pink colour of tomato and tangy to taste.
Ten days down and another fourteen to go…🥗
Till next post, take care !!