Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Vengaya vattha kuzhambu (Onion-tamarind gravy)

Every day in every way I’m getting lazier and lazier.
This is not what I want to be confessing, dear reader. Believe me, I’d much rather be declaring the more conventional - and infinitely more impressive – version that goes “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better”.

The truth is that I have, at the very least, half a dozen recent recipes to post about and over a dozen older ones which have been ageing gracefully without seeing the light of publication. It’s so easy to take photos while cooking – that’s become second nature now – but it’s a lot less fun to have to edit them (even the simplest, most basic edit that I do which is basically adding my blog name to the photo). It’s infinitely less appealing still to write up the recipes step by step and match the correct photos every step of the way.

I know, nobody’s forcing me to do the whole step-by-step thing, and there wasn’t a gun held to my head when I began to write up the instructions this way. Call me short-sighted but I didn’t envisage a point where I would find it boring to continue doing it in such a painstakingly detailed way. More fool me, because it’s been ever thus with every single one of my enthusiasms over the years.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bored with cooking. I’m not even bored of taking photographs while cooking. (And I’m certainly not bored with eating – no fear.) I enjoy writing the posts too, 98% of the time - probably because I feel no urge to stick to the point and no pressure to be topical or even informative. So it’s just the recipe itself, with the ingredients and instructions.

I guess I could stop the step-by-step routine… but after so many years of my blog, I can’t bring myself to do that. (Apparently I can bring myself to ignore my blog and the recipes that are clamouring for release… apparently that isn’t wrong. But simplifying things so that I can bring myself to post more often – oh golly gee gosh, that would feel so wrong.) Look, I can’t explain why this is so – but that is how it is.

Anyway, I decided to post this fairly standard, easy, everyday recipe that I make often - I haven’t posted about it thus far because, you know, it’s fairly standard, easy… etc etc. However, it struck me recently that it might not be standard to everybody, and not everybody might make it this way. So in the interests of posterity, and so on.

I feel quite noble to be dragging myself out of my lethargy comfort zone just for the sake of posterity. How nice of me to do this.


If you’ve finished acknowledging my nobility and niceness, you may go on to the recipe. Which is actually a fairly standard, easy…

Oh. I’ve said this before.
Recipe for: Vengaya vattha kuzhambu
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Ingredients:

2 tsp tamarind paste
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
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1/4 tsp vendhayam/fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp toor/tuvar dal
1 tbsp manathakkali vatthal
1 tbsp gingelly oil/nallennai
3-4 dried red chillies, broken in half (or to taste)
1 tsp mustard seeds
a few fresh/frozen curry leaves (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
2-3 tsp sambar powder or vattha kuzhambu powder (if available)
2 tbsp rice flour
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
handful of roasted peanuts (optional)

Method:

1. Dissolve the tamarind paste in 5 cups water. Reserve.
2. Heat the oil and add the manathakkali vatthal, the tur dal, dried red chillies, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida powder and turmeric powder.
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Fry all these for a couple of minutes on high heat, stirring to prevent burning.
3. Next, add the chopped onions and garlic and stir.
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4. When the onions start to soften, add the sambar/vattha kuzhambu powder and stir it in, along with the black pepper powder.
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5. Now pour in the tamarind water.
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Bring to a boil on high heat, then turn it down to medium-low and let it simmer gently for 10 minutes or so.
6. Whisk together 2 tbsp rice flour with some water to make a thick, pourable paste and stir it into the kuzhambu. Let it boil for another 4-5 minutes until the kuzhambu thickens and becomes less watery.
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Add salt to taste and throw in the peanuts now, if using. Serve hot with steamed white rice and a dry vegetable curry.

RECIPE: VENGAYA VATTHA KUZHAMBU

Ingredients:
2 tsp tamarind paste
4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
1/4 tsp vendhayam/fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp toor/tuvar dal
1 tbsp manathakkali vatthal
1 tbsp gingelly oil/nallennai
3-4 dried red chillies, broken in half (or to taste)
1 tsp mustard seeds
a few fresh/frozen curry leaves (optional)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida powder
2-3 tsp sambar powder or vattha kuzhambu powder (if available)
2 tbsp rice flour
1/2 tsp black pepper powder
handful of roasted peanuts (optional)

Method:
1. Dissolve the tamarind paste in 5 cups water. Reserve.
2. Heat the oil and add the manathakkali vatthal, the tur dal, dried red chillies, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida powder and turmeric powder. Fry all these for a couple of minutes on high heat, stirring to prevent burning.
3. Next, add the chopped onions and garlic and stir.
4. When the onions start to soften, add the sambar/vattha kuzhambu powder and stir it in, along with the black pepper powder.
5. Now pour in the tamarind water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then turn it down to medium-low and let it simmer gently for 10 minutes or so.
6. Whisk together 2 tbsp rice flour with some water to make a thick, pourable paste and stir it into the kuzhambu. Let it boil for another 4-5 minutes until the kuzhambu thickens and become less watery. Add salt to taste and throw in the peanuts now, if using. Serve hot with steamed white rice and a dry vegetable curry.

7 comments:

Hari Chandana said...

Such a delicious and tempting recipe.. looks perfect !!
Indian Cuisine

Chitra said...

Lovely! But am curious how do you manage to finish the whole quantity? When I cook sambar, avial etc I just keep having leftovers for ages!

Shammi said...

Hari Chandana: thank you!

Chitra: Hehe, fair question. I make smaller quantities of things that don't keep well - like aviyal, kootus etc. Things like sambar can be frozen, so I portion it off and freeze. Vattha kuzhambu never lasts long enough around me because I eat it for every meal, even if it's over 2-3 days.

swarna said...

yumm shyam...can I ask a very silly annoying question...how does your tamarind water look so light in the pic above?

lol... btw: 1 number parcel on it's way to you;-))

alpa said...

Please do keep updating however it suits you, your write ups are so hilarious and always make me laugh!

Shammi said...

Swarna: The tamarind I have doesnt come up as dark brown, sadly. I wish it did. Vattha kuzhambu oughta be dark brown!

Alpa: Thank you for your lovely comment. I feel encouraged to continue! :)

Vardhini said...

Comforting kuzhambu. Looks yummy.

Vardhini
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