Brahmin style Vathal kuzhambu

I re-read my resolutions for 2014 and cringed. Mediocre writing apart, I had been so naïve. I decided not to write any for this year although in my mind I still believe I can wake up early every day, exercise, lose weight and save all my medical bills, if only I will myself to do it. I am innocent that way.

I made an ambitious to-do list today that started with the little chores I wanted to get done today and ended up having everything I wanted to do over the past year. I felt tired reading it. But writing things down always makes me feel I’ve emptied my mind of all the lists on to the book and my mind is free for other tasks. I realized it had been 3 weeks since I blogged last. Ouch!

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Strangely I’ve been cooking more often these past few weeks than I was before. The newer ways I find to use up leftover rice, my family will make more rice to leave us with more leftovers. I am trying hard not to turn into the kitchen sink momma.

Don’t be the kitchen sink momma. If today you eat the extra helping of pulav, the two spoons of poriyal and the tiny piece of cake because it’s too little to store in the fridge, because it is easier to pop them into your mouth than to find little dabbas to store them in, you will do so every day. Once a kitchen sink momma, always a kitchen sink momma. That my friends, is the single biggest reason behind the Indian woman’s disparate shape (top 20: bottom 80).     
Making a lip-smacking vathal kuzhambu is a wonderful way to eat up your rice. There are some food combinations that make us go glassy eyed, shake our heads in amazement and recall long lost memories.  Vathal kuzhambu ladled over hot rice, drizzled with some warm gingelly oil or ghee, eaten with crunchy rice appalams will always be a classic.

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I followed this easy recipe and I was mighty pleased with the results. I love that we add a tiny bit of jaggery to round out the flavours. Make sure not to skip it. You may adjust the quantity to your liking. This kuzhambu keeps well in the fridge for a week or even more.
 Wishing all my readers a very happy 2016!  

Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Serves: 5-7

Ingredients

Sundakkai vathal/Dried turkey berry – ½ cup (substitute with any other sun-dried vegetable)
Sambar onions/Shallots – 1 cup peeled and halved
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Mustard seeds – ¾ tsp
Tamarind extract – from a lemon sized ball
Turmeric powder
Salt to taste
Jaggery – 2 tbsp grated (adjust as per taste)
Gingelly oil – 3 tsp

Spice powder

Whole dry red chillies – 4
Toor dal – 1 tbsp
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Whole pepper seeds – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida – ½ tsp
Raw rice – ½ tbsp.
Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp

Method
1.       Heat a heavy bottomed pan and dry roast the ingredients given under spice paste till the dals turn golden and the ingredients are nicely toasted. Cool. Grind to a fine paste adding very little water.
2.       To the same pan, add gingelly oil. When hot, add mustard seeds and let splutter. Add in the chopped shallots and curry leaves and fry till the shallots turn translucent.
3.       Add in the sundakkai vathal (or any other sun-dried vegetable of choice) and fry for a minute.
4.       Pour in the tamarind extract. Add turmeric powder and salt and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium-low and let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes.
5.       Stir in the spice paste and mix well to incorporate into the boiling tamarind mixture. Add a little water if it is too thick. Adjust to your desired consistency. Add in grated jiggery. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
6.       Switch off. You could finish with a tempering of gingelly oil if you wish. Serve hot with rice and appalam.
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