I had been wondering why on earth I had not posted this everyday recipe that my mom used to make. It has been an eternal favourite of mine since the day I have had it with Alu Fry. I remember when we were little, my sister D would want this everyday. Mom would keep it special over the weekend and she would have it with a side, with curd rice and every other dish possible. In my opinion, this gravy gets redolent with flavour and aroma at least a day after it has been prepared. There is no great secret recipe or ingredient….only small little things that have to be kept in mind, added a little ahead or later. Here is my recipe for the same.
1/2 of a Big Onion or 1 Medium sized red onion.
1 1/2 cups of Tamarind Water extract.
1 1/2 spoons of Sambar Powder.
1 Spoon of Ghee.
1 Spoon of Rice Flour diluted in 1/3 cup of water.
Keep all the ingredients ready before preparation. Chop the onions in to fine pieces.
Toss a kadai on the stove, and add a spoon of ghee/oil. When hot, add mustard, curry leaves, 2-3 somph, and immediately the chopped onions.
Allow to saute well and when beginning to turn light brown, add the sambar powder.
Roughly saute for a few minutes and then add the prepared tamarind water extract.
Add salt, turmeric, a little more curry leaves and allow to boil and reduce. Keep it on medium flame.
When the water content is reduced to at least half, add the rice flour dissolved in water and mix well.
Keep for a couple more minutes and switch off. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
Serving Suggestion: Onion Vethakuzhambu & Alu Fry.
Every morning when its time to decide the day`s menu, I promise you I really get stumped. It`s the same story everyday….I decide on Vazhakkai Podimasand then to my dismay realise that I am out of Dhania for the spice powder. Then I think why not Pavakkai Pitlae, but the pavakkai is in a very pitiful state. Dunked in to the trash can. Then again…Adai? no way I got to soak for at least 3-4 hours….Back again to the open fridge….Capsicum Pulav? Well….capsicum yes, but not enough curd or sour cream for a good serving of raita…and me cannot have pulav without raitha…Blah….how much more can one dwell on a simple culinary decision?
Today the only thing I had loads of was fresh ginger preserved in a paper towel Ginger!!! Aha…suddenly dawned on me Bharathi`s Inji Kuzhambu…The only thing that bothered me was I had to throw in some thing in the gravy. I never prefer plain sambars with no vathals or vadagams or veggies!!! I could not pair even a single veggie in the fridge with this one, so I decided to modify it to a Sutta Appalam Inji Kuzhambu redolent with its flavours and aromas. So here we go…
2 Appalams fire roasted and broken in to big pieces.
2 Tbsp roughly chopped Ginger.
1 Tbsp finely chopped Ginger.
1 1/2 cups of tamarind water extract.
Roast in Oil Individually:
2 1/2 tsp Dhania.
1/2 Tsp Methi Seeds.
2 Tsp Toor Dhal.
7-8 Red Chillies. (Kindly alter the red chillies according to personal taste).
The 2 Tbsp of roughly chopped Ginger pieces.
Mustard, Curry leaves, Gingely Oil.
As already mentioned take any appalam of your choice and slowly roast it over direct fire. If you have leftover Vadams or Vethals you can use those too. Fire roasted appalams are a personal favourite of mine. Break in to slighly bigger pieces and set aside.
Roast in gingely oil all the specified ingredients and pop them in to a mixer. Grind to a smooth paste with water. Keep aside.
In a kadai, add 2 spoons of gingely oil and when hot add mustard, curry leaves, ginger and saute for a few seconds.
Add immediately the tamarind water, ground paste, salt, hing and turmeric powder.
Now add the broken pieces of appalam also to the gravy.
Let them all simmer on a medium low flame for about 25 minutes or so.
You will see that the oil seperates fromt the gravy and all the raw smell is gone.
Switch off the stove and garnish with chopped corriander.
In my opinion, any of the varieties of tamarind based gravies, always taste better after a day or two later. By afternoon, the kuzhambu was smelling so awesome with the flavours and spices soaking up really well.
There are so many different varieties of red chillies and ginger, so re-adjust the quantity of both depending on personal preference. The end result does not reek of the ginger flavour. It`s just a mild after-thought flavour.
Eggplants have always been my husband`s favourite vegetable. He loves it in any form. I know a lot of people who are allergic to eggplants because of the seeds in it.In addition to featuring a host of vitamins and minerals, eggplant also contains important phytonutrients, many which have antioxidant activity. Phytonutrients contained in eggplant include phenolic compounds, such caffeic and chlorogenic acid, and flavonoids, such as nasunin. Nasunin is believed to protect cell membranes from damage. Its also rich in dietary fibre and known to also promote cardio vascular health.
How to Select and Store: (Courtesy – Whole Foods)
Choose eggplants that are firm and heavy for their size. Their skin should be smooth and shiny, and their color, whether it be purple, white or green, should be vivid. They should be free of discoloration, scars, and bruises, which usually indicate that the flesh beneath has become damaged and possibly decayed.The stem and cap, on either end of the eggplant, should be bright green in color. As you would with other fruits and vegetables, avoid purchasing eggplant that has been waxed.
Place uncut and unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a few days. If it is too large for the crisper, do not try to force it in; this will damage the skin and cause the eggplant to spoil and decay. Instead, place it on a shelf within the refrigerator.If you purchase eggplant that is wrapped in plastic film, remove it as soon as possible since it will inhibit the eggplant from breathing and degrade its freshness.
I always prefer cooking with the Japanese Eggplant as its very soft, has minimal seeds and cooks extremely fast. I use the Indian Eggplant only when I would reequire to make stuffed brinjals etc.
This time around my husband wanted Yennai Kathirikkai Kara Kuzhambu and so I was inspired completely by Viji`s method and have made a few changes to her version to incorporate a few of my inputs. There is no grinding of masalas or spices and once you put it on the stove to simmer, you can forget about it. The resulting gravy was tangy, spicy and completely out of the world taste. Since it combines the stuffing of the brinjals with spice powders and then simmering it in the tamarind gravy, the combination of best practises was heavenly.
5 Baby Brinjals.
1 large organic sour tomato or 2 medium sized tomatoes.
Curry Powder to stuff the brinjals.( I once used store bought Puliyodharai Powder/Vangibath Powder etc)
2 tsp Sambar Powder.
1/2 tsp Red Chilli Powder.
Tamarind Juice extracted from a gooseberry sized tamarind.
Garlic Rasam was not something that we would make at home a lot…In fact Maduraiamma would never ever have garlic. Over the years Amma used to make her version of this Rasam and my sister D would love it. I make two versions of this Rasam – One with Toor Dhal and the other without. Although not even adding Toor Dhal would rob the Rasam essentially of the protien, on those lazy days when you want to finish cooking as soon as possible and curl up to have it watching a nice movie or read an absorbing book….I make the quick version of it!!!
2 cups of Tamarind Water Extract.
5 Garlic Pods
1 Spoon Rasam Powder.
Mustard Seeds, Jeera, Hing, Curry Leaves, 3 Red Chillies, and 1 spoon of Ghee.
In a mixer jar, add a tomato, 2 pods of garlic and some tamarind water and give it a quick pulse. Pour this in to the vessel with the tamarind water and place on the stove on medium low.
Add salt, turmeric, rasam powder,hing and curry leaves to the tamarind water.
In a small frying pan add a spoon of ghee and when its hot, add jeera, mustard, 3 mashed garlic pods, 3 red chillies, and curry leaves and add this to the tamarind water.
Allow this to boil for 20 minutes or until the raw smell is gone.
Switch off and garnish with chopped corriander and curry leaves.
Enjoy Hot Garlic Rasam with Alu Fry or Carrot Subji.
This is a variety of “Sambar” that does not have the ground coconut and spices in it so its pretty straightforward. There are two kinds of basic sambars that we make – the variety that has spices roasted and ground with coconut and the other variety that is spiced only with the sambar powder. This is a part of the latter and hence very easy to make. This sambar is excellent also as a side for Pongal, Idlis and the like. It`s also great with Dosa, adai etc.
1 1/2 cups of Tamarind Extract.
1 spoon of heaped Sambar Powder.
1/2 cup cooked Toor Dhal.
3/4 spoon of rice flour dissolved in 4 spoons of water.
Mustard, Curry Leaves.
Take the washed and cleaned Okras and chop off the tips and the top so you have slightly longer pieces. Set aside.
Take a copper bottomed vessel and pour oil and season with mustard, curry leaves and hing. Immediately add the chopped pieces of okra and stir in well.
Allow the ladysfinger pieces to saute well in the seasoning and when its done, add the prepared tamarind extract water.
Add salt, hing, turmeric, sambar powder, cilantro and sir in well. Allow the gravy to boil and lose all the raw flavours and smells.
After about 20 minutes, the gravy would have reduced and the spices would be well entrenched in the Okra pieces.
Take the cooked toor dhal and slightly dilute with a little water and add to the reduced sambar gravy and stir in well.
If you feel that the consistency is a little too watery, add the rice flour dissolved in the water to this and stir to see instant thickening.
Allow to boil and immediately switch off the heat. Garnish with torn curry leaves and chopped cilantro.
Serve with rice and Kovakkai Curry or Kathirikkai Podimas.
Rasam – slurp!!! It`s my all time favourite comfort food. Even a not so intersting day is made spicy and special simply thinking of making rasam. Of all the rasams that I love, my favourite has always been the home made amma`s piping hot tomato rasam. In India of course, there is a lot of tang to the tomatoes, that amma makes tomato rasam with almost no tamarind. Here, sometimes I need the kick of tanginess from the tamarind so I do liberate myself by using the tamarind water base in the makng of thakkali rasam. On days when I get tomatillos, I use them on their own. I make this rasam in a zillion ways, but here is one of them…
1 big heirloom tomato/slicing tomato/2 roma tomatoes or 3 tomatillos.
1 cup of tamarind extract from a lime sized ball of tamarind.
1 spoon of Rasam Powder.
A pinch of turmeric.
A pinch of hing.
Sprigs of Cilantro.
1/3 cup of cooked toor dhal.
2 vertically slit green chillies.
A spoon of ghee, mustard seeds, curry leaves, pinch of jeera.
In a mixer container, drop half a tomato, a few sprigs of cilantro, curry leaves and 4-5 spoons of tamarind water and grind to a smooth paste.
Add this to the tamarind water already prepared and put in the rasam pot and place over the stove.
Chop the other half of the big tomato in to little pieces and add to the pot.
Slowly add salt, hing, rasam powder, little cilantro, curry leaves, turmeric and allow to simmer on medium low flame.
It`s important that the rasam is simmered in the pot over a low flame for maximum taste.
Take the cooked toor dhal and add a cup of water and using your fingers, mash the dhal and mix it well with the water.
Add this watery toor dhal to the reduced rasam concentrate in the pot.
Stir well and when you see the first boil, switch off, add the remaining sprigs of cilantro and curry leaves, the slit chillies and close with a lid immediately.
In a small kadai, season in ghee using mustard seeds, jeera and a dash of hing and pour over the rasam in the pot.
Many days the staple diet at home, when I was growing up, used to be Pumpkin Molagootal. I guess it was cooked so often as it was pretty easy to make, uses less ingredients, and since the main vegetble is Pumpkin, its a very healthy preparation. On a day when you would want to eat healthy and finish cooking without a fuss, Molagootal would be an easy option. Goes very well with some thing tangy like Inji Pulikachal, Brinjal Puli Pachadi, Vendekkai Thayir Pachadi, Maavadu, Maanga Curry or any kind of pickles too specially lemon. Since it can be had with so many sides, every side dish, almost makes you feel like you have made a completly different menu combination.
2 cups of cubed pieces of pumpkin and cucumbers.
A pinch of Turmeric.
1/2 spoon of Red Chilli Powder.
1/2 spoon of Fresh/Dessicated Coconut.
1 spoon of Jeera.
1/2 cup of cooked toor dhal.
Coconut Oil, Mustard Seeds and Curry Leaves.
Place the chopped vegetables in a wide vessel. Add 1/2 cup of water, turmeric powder, chilli powder and salt and cook it in the pressure cooker for just one whistle.
Drain out the water and save in a container. Put the cooked veggies on to a kadai and place on the stove.
Grind fresh coconut with jeera using this water saved from cooking the vegetables , and make a smooth paste. Set aside.
Add ground paste, cooked and mashed toor dhal, a little more salt, hing, curry leaves and allow to boil. Adjust the water a little bit if you feel that the consistency is way too thick.
In a seasoning ladle, add 2 spoons of coconut oil, mustard, curry leaves, broken urad dhal and pour over the Molagootal.
Vengaya Sambar or Onion Sambar is the most delicious of all the sambar varieties. It`s in fact the unwritten favourite of all the kids in every tamil household. Vengaya sambar and Urulai Fry would probably be the most cooked combination, for a lazy sunday morning brunch. This is the variety that is ground with coconut and roasted spices and then simmered till done.
1 1/2 cups of Tamarind Water
20 – 22 shallots or baby onions available in Indian Stores.
1/2 cup of cooked toor dhal.
Salt to taste.
1 Tsp Mustard.
A small piece of ginger.
To Fry in Ghee:
2 Tsp of Dhania
4 Red Chillies
1/2 Tsp Venthayam/ Methi Seeds.
1 tsp Bengal Gram.
1/3 Cup of fresh dessicated coconut.
Roast the dhania, methi seeds and red chillies in a spoon of ghee. The roasting should be done on a medium low flame until you get the aroma of the spices that are roasted.
In a kadai, add a spoon of ghee and a spoon of oil and when hot, add mustard, curry leaves and the baby onions. Allow to saute well and to slightly brown a little.
Grind the roasted spices along with coconut, about 4 browned onions, and a small piece of ginger and a little water to get a smooth paste. Set this aside.
Now add the tamarind water, salt, hing, turmeric and curry leaves and allow to simmer on a medium flame.
After about fifteen to twenty minutes when the tamarind water is slightly reduced and the raw smell is gone, add the ground paste and the mashed cooked toor dhal to the simmering kadai.
Mix well and add a little water to adjust the consistency of the sambar.
Allow to boil again and when done, switch off the stove and add a dash of chopped cilantro leaves.
Venthaya Kuzhambu is a healthy quick preparation amma makes over the weekend after a month when I come home from the hostel. I would return home hungry for home cooked food and amma would pamper me with simple Venthaya Kuzhambu. Its quick, easy and utterly delicious. Since the main ingredient is only methi (fenugreek) the final taste is completely different from the regular preparations.
I remember fenugreek to be a very important ingredient for my grandfather who had blood sugar. Madurai amma would soak a poon of methi every night in water and he would drink it first thing in the morning. That helped to a large extent to keep his blood sugar at a controllable level. Fenugreek is also supposed to have anti-inflammatory properties and is also used in the treatment of reproductive disorders in women.
In this recipe you would be amazed at the flavour bursting out of a preparation with so few ingredients. ….Here it goes…
1 1/2 – 2 cups tamarind juice extracted.
3-4 red chillies
1 spoon of bengal gram.
1 1/2 spoons of methi seeds.
Salt according to taste.
A spoon of cooked toor dhal (Optional)
A spoon of rice flour.
Dry roast the fenugreek on a medium low flame on a kadai, until you smell the aroma of the seeds. Do not allow to brown too much. Powder in the mixer to a coarse powder and set aside.
In a kadai, add 2-3 spoons of oil and when its hot, add bengal gram, and 3-4 red chillies and allow to roast for a couple of seconds.
Now add the mustard and when it splutters, add the crushed curry leaves and immediately the tamarind juice.
Add salt, turmeric, ground methi seeds powder, hing and allow to slowly boil on a medium low flame.
After about 20 minutes or so, when the gravy has been reduced, and becomes a little thick, reduce the flame.
Mix 1/3 cup of water in the spoon of rice flour and mix briskly to dissolve clots. Also add the spoon of cooked toor dhal to bring it to a smooth homogenous consistency.
Pour this in to the kadai and mix well and allow to boil for a few more minutes. (Consistency should be as shown in the pic.)
Delicious Venthaya Kuzhambu is ready to be served with Pavakkai Fry and Appalam.
Venthaya Kuzhambu is served mixed with steaming hot rice, adding 1 spoon of ghee or gingely oil to enhance the flavours of the gravy, already spiced to perfection. Best with Appalam and Alu Fry or Pavakkai Fry. I always feel it tastes best the next day as the spices have soaked in te tamarind gravy all day long!!!
Paruppu Urundai literally means balls of lentils. These are little balls of spiced lentils which are simmered in tamarind gravy. Urundai Kuzhambu has been a delicacy reserved to certain special days like sundays or festive occassions. The balls are also an excellent accompaniment with curd rice and an enricing source of protein. Normally when amma makes Urundai Kuzhambu, there would not be any left for the evening dinner! This was our weekend lunch menu and I wanted to share it on my blog today.
1/4 cup of toor dhal.
1/4 cup of bengal gram.
1-2 spoons of raw rice.
3 red chillies.
A pinh of hing
1 spoon of sambar powder.
1 spoon of rice flour.
2 cups of tamarind extract water.
Soak the toor dhal, bengal gram, raw rice and red chillies in water for 1-1 1/2 hours. Then grind it with hing and a little salt to a thick paste without adding too much water. Try pulsing in the mixer so it helps in the easy grinding.
You should be able to make balls with your hands. Keep the balls of dhal aside. Add 1/4 cup of water to this mixer jar, a spoon of rice flour and give it a good shake and set this water aside.
In a kadai, add the 2 cups of tamarind water, sambar powder, hing, turmeric, salt, curry leaves and switch on the stove.
Allow the tamarind base to cook and lose all the raw smells. Now add 2 spoons of oil.(We do this so that when we drop the lentil balls in to the kuzhambu, the balls dont break.)
Now slowly drop the prepared raw lentil balls and allow them to cook well. As these are raw lentils, you must allow sufficient time for the flavours of the tamrind and spices etc to seep in to the balls.
The kuzhambu will reduce and thicken slightly. When the balls are cooked pour the water from the mixer container in to the kuzhambu to bring it to a thick kuzhambu consistency.
Season with mustard, curry leaves and pour over the kuzhambu and serve HOT with Vendekkai Fry.