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Stuffed Potato and Kathirikkai fry: A speciality dish from Mylapore

Mylapore is considered to be one of the oldest areas in Chennai. The ruler of the place was called Mylai Kavalan which means protector of peacocks as the place was full of them. Mylapore derived its name because of that. In the late 19th and 20th century, the place once again came to the spotlight and was known as the intellectual and cultural hub of Chennai.

Stuffed Potato and Kathirikkai fry: A speciality dish from Mylapore
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Prominent among them was the famous actor MK Radha. He worked for over 25 years in the Tamil film industry. His first movie was released in 1936 named Sathi Leelavathi and co-actors were MS Gnanambal and MG Ramachandran. His last role was of a king in the movie Uthama Puthiran in

1958. He also received a Padma Shri in 1976 from the then President VV Giri. He bought a house

near Sanskrit College. The house was famous for the lotus pond and the huge kitchens at the back,

which was always bustling with activities.

My athai (aunt) Mangalam, who lived near the temple tank, would visit my grandfather’s house every

day, which was next to MK Radha’s house, in the hope of seeing him and spying into their kitchens to

see what was cooking. She was nicknamed Mylapore maami as she knew what all were happening

around Mylapore and where the best dishes were available. Mangalam athai with her diamonds and

madisar (the traditional nine-yard saree) was a figure to reckon with.

MK Radha’s sons, Sukumar and Vijayan, were our playmates. For some strange reason, Mangalam

athai would always demand some ransom from them in exchange for them to jump the wall at the back

and come play with us. The ransom was always food-related or a picture of her favourite actor. 

Their cook Andiappan’s grandfather had worked for the Portuguese, so potatoes and brinjal (kathirikkai) always had a place in their kitchen. Though non-vegetarians, vegetarian dishes were in plenty and everyday eating was literally a mini banquet for royalty. My athai in spite of all social taboos could never resist the dishes which were prepared there. They had a lot of plants and fruit trees and the drumstick tree was a boon to all of us. My aunt would sometimes demand drumsticks and when a popular Mudaliar dish of stuffed brinjals and potatoes were made, she would make sure she carried back a tiffin box full of it.

Sukumar and Vijayan, on the other hand, loved the coconut barfi and murukkus, which she made

specially for their father. Andiappan would often whistle to us from their kitchen to share some

delicacies. Our childhood friendship based on all these episodes developed into a genuine friendship.

Sukumar became a famous dental surgeon and Vijayan is now a celebrity musician, who runs his own

music school in Singapore. Among all the dishes there was the stuffed brinjal and potato which stood out. It was an unusual dish because the stuffing was prepared with whatever grew in their garden. Mostly, it was drumstick leaves, fresh coriander, mint and curry leaves, roasted with coconut, chillies and cumin. In order to pay an ode to my athai, my friends and the good childhood days, I decided to recreate the dish from memory and cook it. I am sure if you try it you would make many

foodies asking for the recipe as it is not available anywhere. I believe it was first cooked by Andiappan’s father.

— Chef Ramaa Shanker is the author of ‘Festive Offerings to the Gods: Divine Soul Recipes’


Wash brinjals and potatoes in salt water, wipe them dry. Peel the potatoes and carve the middle with a

scrapper making a hollow potato shell. Keep it in turmeric and saltwater

Pat the brinjal dry with a clean cloth. Then take one brinjal, slit it vertically till 3/4 of the length and slit again on one side. Apply a little salt and turmeric and leave it whole

Wash all the greens and in a pan with 1 tbsp oil, fry onions, ginger-garlic paste and the greens. Add crushed green chillies and scrapped potato shavings. Fry and when roasted, keep aside

Heat a pan and dry roast skinned peanuts for a couple of minutes in medium flame

In the same pan, add sesame seeds. Dry roast sesame seeds till they start to sputter. Keep aside

Now, add grated coconut and dry roast till golden brown and set aside 

Now, add a teaspoon of oil to the pan. When the oil is hot, add coriander seeds, chana dal, red

chillies, fenugreek, black pepper, asafoetida, star anise, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, tamarind and cumin seeds. Fry all these ingredients till dal turns golden brown. Keep these fried ingredients aside

Take all fried ingredients, including the greens and fried onions along with salt in a mixer jar and grind it to a coarse paste

Add salt to taste. Apply a little salt on the outside of the vegetable too, to retain shine.

First, take the potatoes, wipe dry and stuff the hollow with the masala. Pack it in tight.

Now stuff each brinjal with the ground masala

Take a heavy bottom kadai or non-stick pan and pour the rest of the oil in it.

When the oil heats up, lower the flame and gently arrange the potatoes and brinjals in the pan.

The filled side should face upwards.

Close the wok or pan with a lid.

When one side is roasted and cooked, turn over gently.

Cook till done and serve hot with rice, rotis or parathas.


Tender brinjal: 4 | Potatoes: 2 | Tamarind paste: 1 tsp | Drumstick leaves: 1 cup full | Green coriander: ¼ cup | Curry leaves: ¼ cup | Fresh mint: ¼ cup | Peanuts: 1 tbsp | Sesame seeds: 1 tbsp | Grated coconut: 2 tbsp | Coriander seeds: 2 tbsp | Chana dal/ kadalai paruppu: 2 tbsp | Red Chillies: 5 | Cumin seeds:

1 tsp | Fenugreek seeds: ½ tsp | Onion: 1 finely chopped | Ginger-garlic paste: 1 tsp | Sesame oil: ½ cup | Clove: 1 | Cinnamon: 1 piece | Cardamom: 2 small | Star anise: 1 | Peppercorns: ½ tsp | Salt: to taste | Asafetida: ½ tsp | Green chillies: 4 crushed | Turmeric: 1 tsp

Preparation time: 20 min

Cooking time: 20 min

Serves: 4 pax

Calories per serving: 166

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