The following may be useful in translating some of the terms used in the recipes. (note: Malayalam sound designated by letters ‘zh’ is a soft English ‘r’.)

Indian/English Name Malayalam name
tuar dal thuaran parippu 
urad dal uzhunnu parippu 
masoor dal  parippu 
chana dal (bengal gram) kadala parippu 
moong dal  parippu 
hing (asafoetida) kayam 
tamarind puli 
coriander  malli 
cayenne pepper mulaku podi 
methi (fenugreek) uluva 
cilantro leaves  malli ila 
cumin (jeera)  jeerkam 
mustard  kaduku 
okra vendakka 
pumpkin  mathanga 
cucumber  kumbalanga 
like, Totally! Ayyo!
saunf  perumjeerakam 


Shallots or pearl onions – one cup
large onions – 2
garlic cloves – 2
grated coconut – 1 cup
coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
methi seeds – 1 teaspoon
tamarind extract – 1 tablespoon
chili powder – 1 tablespoon
turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
oil – 2 teaspoons
salt to taste
curry leaves – a few

Peel and chop the large onions fine. Heat one teaspoon of the oil in a frying pan and add 1/2 cup of the chopped onions. saute well and when browned, add the curry leaves, coriander seeds and methi seeds. Stir for a few more minutes and remove and keep aside. Wipe the pan and add the coconut. On a low heat, dry roast the coconut till brown (not burned).

When it is cool, blend the coconut with the onion mixture adding a half cup of water. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the curry leaves and remaining onions and shallots and stir till browned. Add the tamarind extract and 1/2 cup water and salt.

When it starts to simmer, add the blended paste and cook on a low fire for 20 – 30 minutes.

Source: Maya Nair

Coconut Chutney (curry of excellence)

1 1/2 C fresh shredded coconut (not sweetened)
1 tsp. channa dhal (roast until golden brown)
2-3 green chillies, split and seeded
1 inch fresh, peeled ginger
2-3 tsps cumin powder
1/2 tsp tamarind concentrate (or lemon juice)
salt to taste

Grind above in a blender. Season with asafoetida, fried mustard seeds, and curry

Chutney variant #1.. grind 2 bunches coriander leaves for lip-smacking
‘coriander chutney’
NOTES: Experiment with the proportions. Me thinks that’s the best way to learn.
corrections welcome…

source: Prabhu Balaraman balarama@cae.wisc.edu


Green bananas or plantains (nenthrakkay) – cubed
turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
chili powder – 1 teaspoon
cummin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
mustard seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
urad dal – 1/4 teaspoon
coconut, grated – 1/2 cup (may substitute des. coconut)
coconut for garnish – 1 tablespoon
black pepper – 1/4 teaspoon
curry leaves – a few
salt to taste
oil – 1 teaspoon

Soak the cut plantains in warm water mixed with half teaspoon turmeric for ten minutes.

Drain and cook the plantains with the remaining turmeric and salt. Grind the coconut well with cumin and add to the cooked plantains. Let it simmer.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and pop the mustard seeds. Add the urad dal and the coconut reserved for garnish and stir till browned. Add this mixture to the eriserry and mix in the curry leaves.

Source: Maya Nair


pumpkin or squash or zucchini (cut into one inch cubes) – 2 cups
coconut – 2 tablespoon
chili powder – 1 teaspoon
coriander seeds – 1 teaspoon
methi seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
tuar dal – 1 tablespoon
urad dal – 1 tablespoon
tamarind extract – 1 tablespoon
hing powder – 1 teaspoon
curry leaves – a few
dry red chilies – 2
salt to taste
oil – 1 teaspoon

In a frying pan, roast the coconut with the coriander, methi, urad dal and tuar dal until brown (use low heat).

Grind the mixture into a paste when cool. Cook the pumpkin with the
chili powder and turmeric powder and salt.

Add the tamarind extract and simmer for a few minutes.

Add the coconut paste, hing powder and the curry leaves.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and pop mustard seeds and dry red chilies and add to the mixture.

Source: Maya Nair

Cabbage Thoran

chopped cabbage – 3 cups
turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
green chilies – 2 or 3
des. or fresh coconut – 1/2 cup
garlic cloves – 3
onion – 1 small (optional)
urad dal – 1 teaspoon
mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
oil – 1 teaspoon
salt to taste

Chop the onion. Heat the oil on medium heat and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, add the urad dal and curry leaves. Then add the onions and saute till browned. Now add the cabbage, turmeric powder and salt. Stir for a while, lower the heat and cook covered for five minutes. Crush the garlic and cumin seeds and add to the cabbage along with the green chilies and the coconut. Stir for a few more minutes and remove from heat.

Source: Maya Nair


Brown peas or black eyed peas (canned is O.K.) – 1 cup
white pumpkin – cubed – 1 cup
yellow pumpkin – cubed – 1 cup
green chilies – 2 or 3, sliced
coconut milk – 1 can (1 1/2 cups)
curry leaves – a few
salt to taste

Cook the peas (if using dry variety). Add the pumpkins to the peas with some water and salt and simmer on a low fire. Add the green chilies. Finally add the coconut milk and curry leaves, heat for a minute and remove from fire.

Source: Maya Nair

Mizhukku puratti (Vegetable fry)

green beans – 1 inch lengths – 2 cups
plantains or green bananas – cubed – 1 cup
salt to taste

Lots and Lots of oil (just kidding – 3 teaspoons oil)

Soak the plantains in warm water and turmeric. Drain well and cook with salt.

Cook the beans separately in a little water. ( Zap it to save time – add a half cup of water and salt, cover and mwave it at high for 4 to 6 minutes).

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the beans (drain off any water left), Stir for a minute and then add the plantains. Stir till nice and browned.

hint: This curry may be made with any cooked vegetable.
Source: Maya Nair

Fish moilly (malay fish curry)

This dish is a traditional Kerala take on Malay fish curry.

Per Madhur Jaffrey’s Flavours of India: “Noted for its abundance of fish, Kerala cuisine is fragrant with coconut and spices. The recipe for Fish moilly is particularly delicious.

Kerala, which nestles along India’s south-western coast, has a warm, sunny climate and rich tropical greenery. The name means “the land of the coconuts”, and these are prized not only commercially, but also in the kitchen. They are an important ingredient in many Kerala dishes, like this delicious fish dish. Traditionally made with seer fish – kingfish steaks – it works as well with cod steaks or halibut or haddock fillets. In Kerala, this dish is served with rice, but you may serve it with boiled potatoes and a salad.”

About 1 1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 lb (450g) fish steaks or fillets, cut into 2 inch cubes
4 Tbs. coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 medium large red onion finely sliced
6 fresh hot green chilies finely sliced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely shredded
About 30 fresh curry leaves, if available
7 fl oz (1 cup) coconut milk, well stirred from a can or fresh
2 Tbs. lime juice

Mix 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the turmeric together. Rub over the fish. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large wide, non-stick pan or wok over a medium heat. When hot add the onion, chilies and ginger. Stir once or twice. Add the curry leaves. Stir and fry for three to four minutes until the onion is soft.

Add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder and 5 fl oz (3/4 cup) water. Mix well. When the mixture boils add the fish. Spoon the sauce over the fish.

Add 3/4 teaspoon salt. Turn the heat down. Cover and simmer for four to five minutes, spooning the sauce over the fish and shaking the pan gently to prevent sticking.

Add the coconut milk, shake pan and add more salt if needed. Cover and simmer for a further three to four minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Add the lime juice.

Shake again and remove from the heat, then serve.

Chile Chutney

10 fresh red New Mexico chiles, roasted, peeled, seeded & stemmed
10-12 almonds or cashews
1 lump tamarind pulp about the size of a small lime
1 1/2 Tbs. raisins
1 tsp salt
1 small onion, minced

Grind the first five ingredients together, preferably to a fine paste, and store in a jar for a week. When about to use, add the minced onion and mix well. Yield: 1-2 cups. Delicious with rice dishes.

Note: This chutney, from one of India’s southernmost states, taste better once it has been stored a week.