Thursday, March 22, 2012

Vathal kuzhambu

Vidhya Kumar- Chirpy, sweet, tamil Iyer and an amazing cook. That is how I should describe Vidhya for this post. I met Vidhya last year when I was studying in America. One of the finest south Indian vegetarian cuisines is from tamil brahmins kitchen. And my friend Vidhya is a master at it. Everytime I tried making at home, I would not get the same taste as how Vidhya makes. So one day she made it for me and it seemed quite simple. The secret lies in the sambhar powder and the amount of water we add.
Vathal kuzhambu-just the utter mention of it should makes one drool.
A spicy, tangy and hot gravy with some sun dried vegetables in it. Vathal (sun dried vegetables) can be of any sort but the most popular ones are manalthakkali (black nightshade in english!) , sundakai (turkey berry) and dried mango. Thanks to Vidhya for making it for me :)

You will need :

1 golf ball sized tamarind pulp
2 cups of water
3 tbsp of Sambar powder ( recipe below)
2-3 dried red chillies
3 tbsp of manalthakkali vathal
A pinch of asafoetedia
1 tsp mustard seeds
10 curry leaves
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

Sambar Powder recipe from Vidhya

Red chilli - 6 cups (can be any cup size..the ratio of other ingredients should be added accordingly)
Dhaniya - 4 cups
Jeera - 1 cup
Black pepper - 1/2 cup
Mustard seeds - 1/4 cup
Methi seeds - 1/4 cup

Dry roast and grind them together. 

Tip: This is ammas 'mysore podi' which is all purpose. Try them on rasam, sambhar and veggies as well.

Begin by soaking the tamarind pulp in the water.

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the mustard seeds.

Break the dried red chillies into smaller pieces and toss them into the oil.

Once it starts to splutter add a pinch of asafoetedia.

Add the manalthakkali vathal, curry leaves and the sambar podi and let it roast for a minute.

Mash the tamarind pulp and extract the tangy tamarind water from the pulp. Discard the pulp. Pour the tamarind water in the spice mixture.

Add salt and let it boil in low heat for 15- 20 mins until the gravy thickens. It should be ready when it is thick and the oil floating over the gravy.

Smear few tbsps of this gravy on piping hot rice and roasted papad to complete a hearty dinner.
It tastes even better the next day. And stays well in the refrigerator for upto a week!