Most Christian families in South India observe Lent, so when Easter rolls around, besides being a celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, it’s also the day the vegan fast is broken.
Continuing with family tradition, our family wakes up while it’s still dark, to attend sunrise service at church and when we come home we have a traditional Indian breakfast of Appams (a South Indian Bread) and a coconut milk-based chicken curry.
The kids then head out to the backyard for their Easter Egg Hunt. This is always followed by us sitting in the grass, going through Scripture as the kids open each egg from our Resurrection Eggs set.
How to celebrate Easter with simply the best, traditional South Indian meal
Indian Easter celebrations involve the getting together of family over a wonderful feast. Chicken and/or meat dishes outnumber the vegetarian dishes as most family members would be breaking the 40 day Lenten fast period on the day. Even if you choose to make just a handful of dishes, the food, abundant in aromatic spices, remains worthy of the celebration.A simple but regal traditional South Indian Easter lunch would include a biryani rice, a rich coconut milk based chicken curry, raitha and papads.
South Indian Chicken Curry
This chicken curry pairs beautifully with appams (South Indian bread) or even naans but really hits the spot when served with a plain biryani rice.The secret to making the curry base turn out just right lies in sauteing the onions till they’re just about golden brown, blending the ingredients for the curry base right after cooking the same but before adding the raw chicken pieces in and making this curry the night before Easter because it always tastes best a day or two later, once everything marries together!
- 1 lb chicken with bone-cleaned and cut into 2-3 inch sized pieces
- 2 red onions chopped
- 2 big roma tomatoes chopped
- 1 green serrano pepper slivered
- 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 1 star anise
- 3 cloves
- 3 cardamom
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 3 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp garam masala powder
- 3/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 3/4 tsp freshly ground pepper powder
- 2 cups thick coconut milk fresh, from a can or powder
- Salt to taste
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 cup chopped cilantro to garnish
In a pan, on medium flame/heat, warm 2 tbsp oil and add to this the spices (star anise, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon), onions and serrano pepper. Saute till the onions are golden brown.
Add the ginger garlic paste and saute for two to three minutes till the raw smell of the paste goes.
Now add the coriander powder, garam masala, turmeric and pepper. Saute for about a minute or two.
Add to this the tomatoes and saute till the tomatoes become mushy and blends in well with the mixture in the pan.
Remove the pan from the stove and allow the mixture to cool a little before blending all the contents in the blender.
Put the pan back onto the stove, add 1 tbsp oil and the raw chicken to the same, Saute till slightly browned, then pour the blended mixture over the chicken, add the coconut milk and season the curry with salt.
Allow the chicken to simmer/cook in this base on a low flame/heat.
Once the chicken is cooked, remove the pan from the stove and garnish the same with cilantro.
Simple Biryani Rice
I like cooking my rice with the spices in turmeric water and then prefer to add the sauteed onions, cashews, raisins and cilantro to the cooked rice.
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 3 bay leaves
- 4 cloves
- 4 cardamom pods
- 2 inch cinnamon bark
- 2-3 tbsp ghee/ clarified butter
- 1 red onion-halved and sliced
- 1 cup salted cashews
- 1/2 cup raisins optional
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish
- Salt to taste.
- Salt to taste
Boil the water in a pot, making sure you throw in the spices, turmeric powder and enough salt to season the water well.
Once the water is at a boil add the basmati rice in and wait till it cooks just right. (Should be just cooked, the way pasta is al dente)
When done, strain the rice out of the water and set aside.
Now place a pan on the stove and add 2-3 tbsps of ghee in the same. Heat on low heat/flame
Saute the onions, cashews and raisins in the ghee.
When browned, take the pan off the stove, add the cooked rice in the same and mix well.
Garnish with cilantro
The meal would not be complete without papads, raitha (yogurt with chopped onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and cilantro mixed in the same and lightly seasoned with salt.) and a tangy pickle.
Mmmmm. Delicious!World Market has a decent selection of Indian food to satisfy those cravings even if you don’t feel like cooking from scratch. With Easter right around the corner, the stores are bursting with everything you need to make for easy entertaining.
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And how could you not fall in love with that gorgeous table decor?
Psssst! If you run out of time and want a quick Indian meal, grab a jar of Goan Coconut Curry Sauce. Just add medium-sized raw chicken pieces in (boneless or with bone) and allow it to cook on a low flame.