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.
This is a quick side dish for Venn Pongal /Vada/ Chappathi/Dosa /Puris and Idlis. It`s pretty much easy and simple to make but vrey delicious and appetising. I remember one time when my mami made this for Pongal. We simply lapped it up!!! Yeah…its that good!!!
4 Big Slicing Tomatoes or Tomatoes on the Vine. Double the quantity for Roma.
1 inch Ginger finely grated.
3 Green Chillies vertically slit.
1/2 spoon Red Chilli Powder.
Puree all the tomatoes in the mixer without adding much water and set aside.
In a kadai, add a spoon of oil and when hot, pop in mustard, broken urad dhal and curry leaves.
When the mustard splutters, add grated ginger, slit green chillies, curry leaves and a pinch of hing.
Allow a couple of seconds to saute and then immediately add the pureed tomato.
If needed, you can add 1/8 cup of water to the mixer and after a quick shake, pour it in to the kadai.
Add turmeric, salt and red chilli powder and stir in well.
Simmer for about ten minutes and switch off heat.
Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.
As an option to increase the volume in case a large serving is needed, is to saute the onions after the seasoning and then add the tomato puree. This version is made with tomatoes but it can be made without on a day when no onions need to be consumed.
The festival of Sri Rama Navami marks the birthday celebrations of Lord Rama, an incarnate of Lord Vishnu. The main significance behind the celebration of this festival is that the character of Lord Rama signifies an ideal son, an upright husband, a righteous King, and a loving brother and even an ideal man, someone who follow the right path against all odds in life. He was also the true embodiment of humanity. So celebration of Sri Rama Navami is a special reminder of all the noble deeds or ideals for which Lord Rama symbolizes. So if we see it in true sense it is not only a festival to enjoy and have fun there are lot more things to be learnt. It is a celebration of goodness and its victory against all evils. Sacred places associated with Lord Rama, like Ayodhya, Ujjain and Rameshwaram, draw tens of thousands of devotees. In Rameshwaram, thousands take a ritual bath in the sea before worshipping at the Ramanathaswamy temple. There are also lots of Parayanams and satsangs where devotees get together to hear the story of Lord Rama and to sing bhajans in his praise.
One of the most popular offering to the Lord, on this day is the “Panagam”. I remember my amma making Panagam and offering it to the Lord and then all of us having it and enjoying the sweet from the jaggery and the spice from the ginger…
2 1/2 cups of water.
1/4 cups of jaggery.
1 tsp Grated Ginger.(Originally use “Chukku” or Dried Ginger)
1 tsp powdered cardamom powder.
Dash of Ground Black Pepper.
In a vessel, dissolve the jaggery in the measured water and set on the stove on medium low.
Slowly add the chukku after mashing it with a mortar and pestle or simply use fresh zested ginger.
Add powdered cardamom powder and a dash of ground black pepper.
Stir in well and switch off.
Offer Naivedhyam to the Lord and sip sweet Panagam.
One of the most staple preparations at home, when I was a little, was the Molagootal. It`s the kerala preparation of the “kootu”….only its not a side.It`s our substitute for sambar or kuzhambu. The molagootal is a slightly bland broth and so we have spicy tangy options to go with it. One such side is the Inji Pulikachal. Simply translated it means “ginger simmered in tamarind”. One of the highlights of Pulikachal is the rush of tastes when you lick even a drop of it…There`s the heat from the chillies, the spice from the ginger, the slight sweet lingering in your mouth from the jaggery and the tanginess from the tamarind. What can one say of the result ??? Heavenly!!!
There is really not a specific measurement – It depends on one`s own requirement of spice, heat and tanginess. These are my indicative measurements. Again, there are differences in the tamarind, chillies etc, so you would need to adjust the proportions accordingly.
1 1/2 cups of Tamarind Juice.
3 Tbsp of Chopped Ginger.
3 Tbsp finely chopped green chillis.
2 spoons of jaggery.
1 spoon of rice flour dissolved in 4 spoons of water.
Salt to taste.
Bengal Gram Dhal, Mustard & Curry Leaves.
In a kadai, add 4 spoons of gingely oil and when hot, add bengal gram, chopped ginger and chopped green chillis.
Allow it to fry in the oil well and then add the mustard and curry leaves.
Now add the tamarind juice, hing, salt and the required turmeric.
Mix well, add the jaggery and allow the gravy to simmer on medium flame for about 30 minutes or so.
At the end, add the rice flour dissolved in water to thicken the pulikachal in a “pachadi” consistency.
As an option, you could allow it to simmer for more time, until all the water evaporates and it gets in to a paste form. This will keep for many days in the refreigerator.