A Terrine is basically a French dish traditionally made from scraps of meat pressed down and baked into a loaf. This pressed down technique lends itself beautifully to starchy potatoes bound by cream. When pressed down and cooled, the sliced up loaf can be pan-fried to yield a crisp texture. The end result is a decadent side dish that may be served with your choice of entrée & a simple green salad.
Such techniques however never feature in Indian cuisine. Ever. First and foremost, because baking is not a preferred means of cooking, and foods cooked and served the next day are generally frowned upon. This is primarily because of the weather conditions in most of India. Heat & lack of refrigeration do not lend themselves well to edible dishes that are meant to be served the next day, least of all terrines.
I settled on ideas from some of my earliest posts on Facebook, pre – blog days. The classic dish from Kerala, Avial coupled with a French terrine recipe. The original inspiration was posted on Food52.com by blogger activist Perennial Plate, a.k.a Daniel Klein.
This Avial terrine has been through a test run that was tasted & approved by senior family members visiting from India. Although it was tempting & would be great, I stuck to using just two vegetables for the sheer simplicity & beauty of the cut cross section of the loaf. I advise using canned coconut milk primarily for its consistency with respect to the recipe.
Avial Terrine: (Makes one standard loaf tin)
5 medium sized carrots (~ ½ Kg)
4 Large potatoes (~ 1 kg)
1 can Coconut milk (14 oz)
3-4 small green chiles (as per your heat tolerance)
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons Cumin seeds
Coconut or sesame oil for pan frying
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the outer skins of the vegetables & discard. Using the same peeler, peel strips of the carrots & potato and add them to a large mixing bowl.
Combine the coconut milk, cumin, green chiles and salt & blend to a smooth liquid. Pour this liquid out into the mixing bowl containing the potato & carrot strips & toss to coat the vegetables well.
Line a 4 x 8 inch loaf pan with Aluminum foil, leaving enough foil sticking out from the sides to completely cover the pan.
Using clean fingers layer the potatoes & carrots in alternating layers all the way to the top of the loaf pan (~ 2.5 inches deep). Begin & finish with a layer of potatoes.
Cover with the extra foil flapping over the rim and bake in a 350 F oven for about 1 hour. At this point a sharp knife inserted into the center of the potatoes should sink in with minimal resistance.
Remove from oven and cool. Cover a piece of cardboard with aluminum foil and place over the top surface of the terrine. Place a heavy weight such as an unopened can over to press down on the terrine. Place in the refrigerator overnight to cool, compress & set. At this point you can even freeze the terrine after its pressed down well & store for about 2 weeks.
When ready to serve, remove the terrine from the fridge (or thaw if frozen). Cut into ½ inch slices.
Heat a non stick skillet and add drizzle about a teaspoon of oil. Gently lay the terrine slices on the pan & fry each side for ~ 3 minutes. Remove from the skillet and place on plate. Garnish with wedges of lime, and serve along side a plate of a creamy Pongal or Bisibele.