Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Vengaya Vathal Kuzhambu

This has been a long pending recipe post on my blog. Many of my friends who have tasted this super good South Indian dish, have been asking me for my version of it. This post is part of Simple and Quick Cooking.
So here it goes. It takes about twenty minutes including the cutting of onion which is the main ingredient of the dish.

Here's what you need:

  • Onions - 2 medium sized, finely chopped. Should take you five minutes,
  • Curry leaves - If you happen to have them in your fridge or backyard or the shopping bag. Not a mandatory item.
  • Tamarind paste - Soak tamarind - about the volume of a medium sized lemon - in say 250 ml of water for a while. Squeeze the tamarind in water as much as you can and you'll finally get a watery or slightly thick tamarind paste. Takes two minutes to three minutes.
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tea spoonful.Said to be good for health.. If you don't like mustard much, you can minimize the quantity.
  • Fenugreek seeds - half a tea spoonful at least.
  • Gram Dal - Half a tea spoonful.
  • Cooking oil  - Three to four medium spoonfuls if diet conscious ; A little over one medium table spoon if you don't mind being less diet-conscious just this once!!!
  • Salt to taste and Turmeric for flavor and to fight the harmful bacteria in the leaves and chopped onion, if at all there is any.
Sambhar Masala - Buy it from any Indian store. If you are particular about making it yourself at home just for the Vatha Kozhambu, then here's how you make it:
In about half a tea spoon of oil, fry one spoon of coriander seeds, two peppercorns for a minute and keep aside. In the same pan, fry about four to six red chillies ( depends on how spicy you want your dish to taste) until the red becomes pronounced but not black. In half a spoon of oil, fry a spoon of gram Dal until brownish shade begins to appear and add in half a spoon of thoor Dal as well. Fry the mix until brown. Switch off the flame and dry fry a quarter tea spoonful of cumin seeds. Grind all the fried items - your sambhar masala is ready. The quantity given here is approximate. Add two or three spoons of this powder when you make the Vethal kozhambu. If excess you can use it for the usual sambhar later on.

So, now that you have everything ready, the first thing you must do is switch on the exhaust fan or open the windows in your kitchen.

  1. Heat oil in a vessel like pan or kadai as we call it in India. If your frying pan can be alternated for a vessel, then it is the best option.
  2. Add Mustard seeds and wait for a few seconds so all of them splitter completely. When the last of the spluttering sound is fading off, add curry leaves. Stir once with a flat steel or wodden laddle.
  3. Add gram Dal and fenugreek seeds. Fry until the gram Dal seems roasted.
  4. Add the chopped onions and fry until the familiar pinkish tint that is seen when onions are close to completely cooked. You can also deep fry it, if you have the patience, but health wise, its good to have the onions just cooked well. Of course for the best and sinfully delicious taste results, fry onions until golden brown.
  5. Add three spoonfuls of sambhar masala and fry for less than a minute, until the masala gets coated on every chopped piece of onion. If you had not switched on the exhaust fan, you will surely remember to do it the next time!!!
  6. Add the tamarind water. If you have made a paste then add a little water to it, to enable the masala coated onions to mix well in the pan.
  7. Allow the mix to boil for five minutes.
  8. Add a little turmeric and salt to the boiling mixture.
Your Vengaya Vatha Kozhambhu is ready to eat with rice and dosas. Always Vatha Kozhambu is taken with Ghee or Gingelly oil, so excess of this doesn't affect your stomach. A good accompaniment for curd rice, this dish when mixed with plain rice is best with any green vegetable fry and the traditional Urad Appalam or Vadaams made in South India. If you cant get these where you live, just try this along with potato chips.

South Indian Chef Secret:

For best of the best results add a little jaggery to the mixture before you switch off the flame. Jagerry has the property of taking out the excess tartness in the Vatha Kozhambu if at all you mess up with the quantity of tamarind you added or if the tamarind you bought was old, with excess tartness.

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