Oh, the things you wish you'd known earlier! Do NOT rent the apartment on the topmost floor of a building when you're in a city like Madras. The view may be nice but it is always H-O-T! Even when the temperature outside is pleasant. Not looking forward to our electricity bill!
It has been 6 weeks since we moved here. Except for the weather (which has not been too bad lately) and light bulb moments like above, it has been quite nice. Contrary to the general opinion that the city is not so cosmopolitan and only Tamil works in Madras, I've found that English works quite alright too. Even Hindi, to a certain extent. A few shops here and there that did not have English speaking/understanding folks but I could still manage with my toota-phoota Tamil or with help from other patrons. The only trouble I have is with the maid, who understands no word of English - even basic stuff like "go" or "come". She likes to talk, that Chinnamma. The fact that I don't get 95% of what she says does not deter her at all from going on and on in eloquent Tamil! We still manage to communicate with each other though - me in sign, Kannada, English, Tamil, all mixed in and she, after much training from me, in shortened Tamil with words that she now knows I get! :)
The traditional kootu does not have garlic, lemon juice nor sugar. I tend to add garlic in most dishes these days. The lemon juice and sugar came about in an effort to offset an accidental overdose of salt in this dish. And it worked well too. Goes to show why you never say "never" when it comes to cooking. You don't know which no-no thing you did that brought about your next signature dish! Right? So, here's my recipe for cabbage kootu.
2 cups cabbage
1/4 cup tuar dal
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)
salt to taste
For grinding (with a little water):
1 tbsp coconut gratings
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2-3 dried red chilies
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp urad dal
1/2 tsp chana dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp crushed and finely chopped garlic (optional)
Cook dal and cabbage in a pressure cooker, with a bit of turmeric.
In a pan, do the tadka and add the cooked dal and cabbage.
Mix in the ground masala.
Add salt, lemon juice and sugar. Bring to a boil.
Serve hot with chappatis or rice.