Mrs. K. M. Mathew’s Kerala Magic

mrs mathews turkey roast
mrs. mathew’s kerala magic

Excerpt from Nadan Pachakarama, copyright Mrs. K. M. Mathew:

An Appreciation of Traditional Fare

“The new generation often exclaims after tasting traditional dishes,
‘ “How comes this does not taste as good as what grandma used to make?” ‘
Well, the reasons are many and varied.

Cooking to the older generation was almost a ritual. It was a time consuming business with no short cuts, no substitutes for the ingredients called for and no switching around of utensils and implements. Coconuts used were of the exact ripeness . . .

Vegetables available in the market may be large and colourful but the chemicals used on them render them tasteless and lessen their nutritive value . . .

But even today, inspite of the pressures of busy city schedules and the synthetic quality of ingredients, we can turn out traditional tasty meals. Only it requires a little extra care and effort”.

the above excerpted from Nadan Pachakarama and copyright Mrs. K. M. Mathew.

peeling ginger Nupur's way
peeling ginger, Nupur’s way!

marinating the turkey
fresh turkey, freshly ground masala, and vinegar ready to cook ~
yes, that’s my cell phone ~ miss m is only a text msg away πŸ˜‰

Long ago, I read this post by Inji of Ginger and Mango (hope you’re well, Inji!), about, among other things, the cookbooks of Mrs. K. M. Mathew. Inji compared her to Julia Child (one of my early mentors). With that comparison in mind,
I knew I had to find and read Mrs. Mathew’s books. I have been quietly searching for one ever since.

Julia’s endearing, down-to-earth ways drew me in — from the dubious beginning of my own cooking career (around 1986 — now I am dating myself!). How fascinating, ironic, thrilling even, that my attachment to that sweet lady led me, years later, to her Indian couterpart — the wise and down-to-earth lady from Kerala admired by so many.

It took a few years, but two of Mrs. Mathew’s books have landed on my doorstep. One is Kerala Cookery, the other Nadan Pachakarama — both english language versions. Both are small. One is lite-bound and one original. Both are such treasures to me that I am keeping them in plastic bags in case of kitchen spills!

For an authentic Kerala recipe, I wanted fish or meat (meaning poultry, for me). Passing by Whole Foods today, I found turkey thighs on sale, so fresh I couldn’t resist them. Nadan P. has a similar recipe, but I cooked from Kerala Cookery tonight. There were only a couple of poultry recipes. I chose Duck Roast —
thinking turkey, while not the same of course, would be an equally flavorful substitute.

Ever mindful of copyrights and because I don’t know anyone to ask for permission, I won’t repeat this recipe verbatim. Suffice to say, you grind up the spices, roast the duck (turkey) with them and then fry the potatoes.

Hold these aside while you fry the onions.

Coconut oil and ghee combo is the frying medium of choice.

Combine all with a little thick coconut milk, bring to a boil to thicken, and serve.

In spite of my subs (turkey for duck, ‘lite’ coconut milk for the real thing), this dish turned out fabulous. Rich turkey was a perfect match for the bold spices. The tender potatoes and onions melted away into coconut-goodness.

Over rosematta rice, nothing could have been better — my tastebuds cried out for more! Just as Julia’s French Onion Soup entranced me so many years ago, so does Mrs. Mathew’s Kerala magic now.

I must remember to take her wise advice, so like Julia’s, to heart —
not only in the kitchen, but everywhere; a little bit of extra care and effort makes all the difference.

turkey and taters ~ spicy!
turkey and potatoes, roasted in fresh, spicy masala ~ awaiting their bath in coconut milk

frying onions
frying onions

mrs mathew's duck roast
the recipe from Kerala Cookery ~ copyright Mrs. K. M. Mathew


Incidentally, the preceeding recipe in the book was Liver Curry — which reminded me of this early post from dear ISG.

Do you ever delve into your own archives? I think that would make a fun blog game. What say you, Nupur?? πŸ™‚



  1. Asha said

    Looks delicious. Photos in her cookbook makes my mouth water. I have “Flavors of the Spice coast” book, wonderful recipes. I will make and post a few after I come back from Summer blog break, one more post to go this week, that’s it. Kids are home, teaching them some easy baking and cooking, son learns faster than my girl! πŸ˜›
    Got to plan a vacation, it’s so hot don’t feel like going anywhere but got to do it.

    glad you’re going on vacation soon now, Asha! πŸ™‚ BTW my son is more interested in cooking, too πŸ˜‰

  2. indosungod said

    Looks delicious Linda. I have cooked with minced turkey but never with turkey meat. Got to give it a go sometime.

    it’s rather like lamb (mutton?) I think, ISG — stronger flavor. Good for a biryani sometime, maybe!

  3. Sra said

    One of her books was one of the first cookbooks I acquired – rather exotic because of her measurements, many meats that we didn’t eat (beef, duck, etc) and I used to try some of the baking.

    How’s your Dad doing?

    If you mean metric measurements, I concur, Sra — and dad is doing much better now (a month after this post!). Thanks for asking πŸ™‚

    • Sra said

      We’re used to metric measurements, it’s the American ones that throw me. But what I meant was that she says stuff like “1 Dalda tinful” so unless you know how much a tin of Dalda could hold, you’d be left wondering.

  4. Nupur said

    What a wonderful post, Linda! I’ll have to remember that: extra care does go a long way.

    Delving into one’s archives is always a nice exercise- I have forgotten so many recipes I have posted over the years.

    So you peel ginger “that” way too? It is Martha Stewart who I learned that from πŸ˜‰

    I guess I am not a martha follower, but definitely a Nupur follower! πŸ˜‰ And yes, archives hold treasures!

  5. mandira said

    I have to try peeling this way from now on Linda. Great post.

    happy to see you here, Mandira — hope you’re all doing well! πŸ™‚

  6. Mrs. Heather Rozario said

    I would like to know where I could get The Family Cookl Book, Kerala Cookery and Flavoirs of the Spice Coast books in English

    • Mrs. Heather Rozario said

      I have tried many recipes from Art Of Indian Cookery and Midern Kerala Dishes and they came out very well

RSS feed for comments on this post · TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: