Brussels sprouts in a South-Indian style recipe might sound terribly inauthentic. It is, and it’s probably why it comes as a surprise to most people when I tell them about this poriyal (as well as ones using oyster mushrooms, broccoli and lettuce). Growing up though, this was pretty normal. When I was at boarding school in Ooty and my parents would come on their monthly visits to see me, a stop at the local market was always on their agenda (much to my annoyance at the time). Carrots and beets with their tops still intact, humongous heads of cauliflower and broccoli, fresh peas, lettuce and hill garlic—all being cold weather produce—were ubiquitous. Brussels sprouts albeit seasonal would be available for most of the year. And they would buy them all.
I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to ‘fancy food’, and I realize that this might sound like a misguided attempt to make Brussels sprouts into something that’s exactly that – fancy. Truth is, I look at it the way my mom did. She bought them because they were fresh and seasonal and found a way to incorporate them into our regular meals; made it accessible and ‘regular’ in a way that everyone at home would eat them, my grand mom included. It stuck, and is now a common enough occurrence at my parents’ as well as in ours.
I like to either halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts here depending on how big or small they are. Basically keeping them intact. But if you don’t particularly enjoy biting into a Brussels sprout in this form, slice them really thinly like you would cabbage.
If you scroll through the recipe you will notice that I sit the sprouts in salted boiling water tinted with turmeric. This is for two reasons. One, it removes some of the bitterness from the vegetable and two, any impurities or worms from the layers within. It’s a mandatory first step so please don’t skip it.