If you use salt and pepper to flavour bland food, you are already familiar with Keralan cuisine! Kerala is the home for a part of the year with our holidays and retreats in South India
The colours and spices of this dish make it a perfect treat for the holiday season and is one of our most versatile household favourites so we thought it’s a great time to share. You can skip down to the recipe or read on...
Black pepper originates from Kerala and history reveals that it was as precious as gold. It was called ‘black gold’ and used instead of money.
All spices and herbs are medicinal
The ancient vedic sages knew a thing or two before modern science backed up this innate wisdom with fact-based research! For example, black pepper is known to aid digestion and congestion so add a little extra if you’re bunged up – you already know that a bit of extra pepper clears your sinuses and other tubes.
Come to Kerala and see, smell and taste for yourself
Our yoga holidays take place right in the hub of this ancient history. The records from the Muzris Heritage project traces the spice route and trade back to the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians. On a Yoga United holiday, you will see pepper as common as ivy climbing up friendly trees to give it a lift. You will see herb and spice gardens just like we would grow parsley and thyme but the difference being, that we probably need a local guide to point out what and where they are growing. Did you know that Kerala translates as the land of coconuts? In Ayurveda, every part of the coconut tree and fruit is used for medicinal purposes
Spices that you will find in Kerala and south Indian cooking:
- Coconut – a modern miracle food, you can’t go anywhere these days without coming across the benefits of all parts of the coconut from immune health to heart disease. Just google!
- Cardamon - you may have had some in your rice pudding and you can add to milky tea to give it that ‘chai latte’ feel. Don’t forget to smash the shell a bit so the oils can create that deliciously luxurious aroma
- Clove – clove oil is often used for tooth pain so you’re probably familiar. Add to your festive mulled wine but only use a few as you don’t want to associate your tipple with going to the dentist!
- Cinnamon – healthy drinks and puddings contain ground cinnamon – add a few sticks for a very festive mulled wine too!
- Turmeric – has become a modern super-drug anti-inflammatory – used for skin inflammation, arthritis, diarrhoea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, and loss of appetite.
- In the same family as cardamom & turmeric, ginger is used in cooking to aid digestion, colds and flu, reduces cholesterol and cleans the blood. Well why wouldn't you add a little extra?
- Tamarind – it's the tang in the Worcestershire sauce if you’re not sure what it tastes like and an ancient medicine for inflammation, low cholesterol and improves cardio-vascular health
It's not surprising that south Indian food tastes so good when you get the best and the freshest spices around, and it acts as a medicine for all the systems of the whole body.
We are offering an easy recipe that you can try at home given that the spices of Kerala are now available in your local supermarket. We love sharing our knowledge about Kerala why not read more about the area. Yoga Holidays
1 large aubergine
5-6 tbsp oil (coconut, vegetable)
2 large chopped onions
2 chopped tomatoes
1 ½ tbsp ginger/garlic paste (you can buy this in a tube or jar or do it yourself)
1tsp fennel seed
1 tsp mustard seed
5-10 curry leaves
1 tsp red chilli powder (depending on how hot your powder is and how hot you like it!)
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 ½ tsp tamarind paste
1 ½ tbsp coconut milk
a handful of chopped coriander
Salt & pepper
How to make it
Chop 1 large aubergine into 1inch wedges
Heat the pan with 5 tbsp oil
Fry the aubergine with half the salt
Once the aubergine is soft, remove them from the pan and drain on the side
In the same pan, add more oil if necessary and heat
1 tsp each fennel seed, mustard seed, 5-10 curry leaves if you have (you can buy dried leaves)
Add 2 large chopped onions and fry until glassy
Add garlic/ginger paste and stir for a minute
Add 2 chopped tomato and fry until soft
Add 1 tsp red chilli powder, coriander powder, and ½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp of turmeric powder, salt to taste
Mix well and fry for a minute – be careful not to burn the spices
Add 1½ tsp tamarind paste
Add 1 to 1½ cups of water depending on consistency
**Add the fried aubergine and 1½ tbsp coconut milk (if available) and simmer for 5-10 minutes until it’s a thick gravy or fry more if you like a drier consistency
Sprinkle chopped coriander and freshly ground black pepper to garnish
** this is a very versatile basic sauce as you can replace aubergine fro mushrooms, boiled eggs, prawns or fish at the simmering stage **
Once you have made this recipe we would love to see your pictures and let us know how you got on and what recipe you'd like next !!
Judy and Saz x