Sambar Powder

No Tamil pantry is complete without a jar of homemade Sambar Powder. This spice mix is as integral to the cuisine of south India as garam masala is to the cuisine of the north.When my mother-in-law was alive, we would return from trips to Chennai with armloads of this wonderful burnt-orange powder. … [Read more...]



Adai was one of the first foods I tasted in my Tamil mom-in-law's kitchen. It became an instant favorite. Unlike its simpler but yummy counterpart, the plain old dosa, an Adai is a star, hiding complex flavors beneath its lovely, golden skin.It is also, in my opinion, a little more fun to cook … [Read more...]

Garlic Rasam (Poondu Rasam)

Garlic Rasam

Rasam and sambar are two of the most basic dishes cooked in every Tamilian kitchen. They are usually made at the same meal, in fact at almost every meal, and are a wonderful example of the resourceful creativity of the Indian housewife: when cooked, the thick lentils sit at the bottom of the pan … [Read more...]

Dosa with Sambar and Chutney

Dosa with Mixed-Vegetable Kuzhambu and Coconut-Coriander Chutney

Being married to a Tamilian, I learned long ago to love Tamilian food. It was not a hard thing to do, by any means: Tamil Nadu cuisine is chock-full of such palate-pleasing delights as sambars, rasams, dosas and idlis. This South Indian state even gave the world the popular Mulligatawny Soup (milagu … [Read more...]

Vegan Venn Pongal with Eggplant-Green-Pepper Gotsu

Venn Pongal

This week, one half of my family (Desi's side) celebrated Pongal, the beginning of the new year for people from the state of Tamil Nadu. Like all Indian festivals, this is an occasion to guzzle down plate after plate of lovingly prepared luscious, delicious vegetarian food.There are some very … [Read more...]