Preparation / Directions:
Kurma: Westerners who come to Madras, Tamil Nadu's capital city, expecting to find meals made with "Madras" curry powder are in for a surprise. Curry powders manufactured in this southern Indian city are strictly for export. Aromatic spices, fennel seeds and fresh coconut are the ingredients that give the superb cuisine of Tamil Nadu its flavour and texture. For this dish, vegetables are "dressed" with a ground paste of fresh coconut, poppy seeds and green chillies, which is cooked briefly with the vegetables so that it is absorbed by them. The dish is best served with plain rice. To prepare: Place the aubergine, carrots, peas, French beans and potato in a medium-sized saucepan. Add 8fl oz water. Bring to the boil. Cover, turn the heat to medium and cook for four minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
Meanwhile put the coconut, chillies, poppy seeds and salt in an electric blender. Add 5 fluid ounces water and grind to a fine paste. Set aside. When the vegetables are cooked, add the spice paste and 5 fluid ounces water. Stir and simmer gently for five minutes. Add the tomatoes, yoghurt and garam masala. Stir gently to mix well. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2 - 3 minutes. Turn into a serving dish and garnish with the fresh coriander. TIPS: If you wish to substitute unsweetened, desiccated coconut for fresh coconut use 5 tbsps. Barely cover with warm water and leave for one hour, then proceed with the recipe. Coriander is the parsley of India. Mix it with vegetables and chicken, use as a garnish and add the stems to soup and dals for extra flavour. To keep coriander fresh, stand sprigs in a glass of water, cover with a plastic bag and keep in the fridge