… Coconutty Veggies
You sit on the floor cross-legged, a banana leaf is kept in front of you, and the goodies start raining down in quick succession.
Keralites of all religions celebrate Onam, and the Onasadhya has atleast a dozen components, all vegetarian, many vegan. From the pappadam, which is the first item to be placed on the leaf, to ona payasam, which is the last, the menu includes atleast 20 items, all made from scratch. After your meal, when you try to untangle your legs (which have probably gone numb) and get up, you feel like a sedated elephant.
In the good old days where large homesteads had a huge annual celebration involving the whole clan, 20 items would have been considered an insult. There were about 64 mandatory dishes, we are told.
(photo from here)
Erissheri is usually prepared with yam, plantain, pumpkin, or a combo. It can also be cooked with raw jackfruit, bread fruit, snake gourd, drumsticks, or drumstick leaves. Some versions (esp. those from southern Kerala) include lentils, but the Nair version doesn’t.
What’s vital to the dish, however, is the process of frying the coconut in the end to season the dish. This imparts a unique flavour and aroma to this curry.
5 cups skinned and cubed veggies (we used yellow pumpkin)
½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
1.5 tsps. cumin seeds
3 dry red chillies
1 green chilli
½ tsp. tumeric powder
1.5 tsp. brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon urad dal (split black lentils)
2 dry red chillies
3 tablespoons grated coconut
2 tablespoons oil (for authentic flavour, use coconut oil)
6-8 curry leaves
1. Boil the veggies with 1.5 cups water, salt and turmeric powder until almost cooked.
2. Grind the coconut, red and green chillies and cumin to a fine paste with ¼ cup water.
3. Add it to the cooked veggies and bring to a boil.
4. Adjust seasoning and water. If it is too thin, cook it some more until the curry makes a thick coating on the veggies, or add a teaspoon of rice flour to thicken it.
4. Heat 2 tsps. of the oil. Add the urad dal, and let it become golden. Add the red chillies and mustard seeds. They should start popping right away. Pour this over the curry.
5. Take the remaining oil and fry the coconut until is it a caramel colour. Add this to the curry.
6. Top with the curry leaves.
Usually served with Rose Matta rice, pappadam and mango pickle.
Our entry for Nupur’s A to Z of Indian Vegetables at One Hot Stove
This traditional family recipe is our entry for My Dhaba’s Feed a Hungry Child Campaign as well.