December 10, 2011

Vatha Kuzhambu

Vatha kuzhambu is an authentic variety of tangy/spicy kuzhambu that can be mixed & eaten with rice. This is one of the quickest & easiest kuzhambu varieties that can be prepared in minutes. It doesn't need any vegetables/dal, yet tastes great. It doesn't require any special side, and yet tastes great. "Sutta appalam (fire roasted papadum) & vatha kuzhambu" is the perfect duo. But, If you want to stretch yourself, go ahead and try it with potato roast / seppankizhangu roast / okra fry.

'Vathal' is nothing but sun-dried vegetables, which are used in making this spicy/tangy gravy. Most popular ones are Sundakkai (turkey berry), manathakkali (black nightshade), bitter-gourd & okra. Vatha kuzhambu can be made with just one or mix of the above. Don't worry if you don't have any of the vathal's handy at home. This is the most forgiving dish and can be prepared with anything from as simple as appalam to shallots/drumsticks and yet develops a unique flavor with every vegetable that you use.

I have a few friends who are big fans of my vatha kuzhambu. Personally, I am a big fan for my mom 's appalam (papadum) vatha kuzhambu.

Basic Info
Complexity - Simple
Prep time - 5 mins
Cook time - 20-25 mins
Serves - 4

Tamarind - 1 small lemon size
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Toor dal (raw) - 1 tsp
Red chillies - 3 nos (broken into half)
Appalam (Papadum) - 2 nos (OR vegetables of your choice - choose from drumstick, okra, shallots, onion etc)
Hing - a pinch
Sambar powder - 3 tsp
Salt - to taste
Gingelly oil - 1/8 cup
Coconut oil - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - few
Rice flour - 1/2 tsp

Soak tamarind in a cup of hot water for 5 mintues. Extract about 1.5 cups of tamarind juice and keep it aside.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat gingelly oil, splutter mustard seeds, fry fenugreek seeds, red chillies & toor dal until golden brown. Break appalam into small pieces, add it to the pan and fry them. Add sambar powder and fry for few seconds until fragrant. (Make sure that you are not burning the sambar powder. Don't let the color of the sambar powder change to black)

Then, add the tamarind juice and let it boil. 

Allow it to boil until the raw smell of tamarind / sambar powder is gone (Tip: Longer you let the kuzhambu to boil, more thicker it gets). Drizzle coconut oil on top, add curry leaves and remove from heat.

Hot & spicy vatha kuzhambu is ready to be served!

- If vatha kuzhambu is too thick, add 1/2 cupof water and bring it to a boil before removing from heat. 
- If vatha kuzhambu is watery, mix rice flour in 1/2 cup of water (without any lumps) and add it to kuzhambu. Bring it to a boil and remove from heat.
- If you find vatha kuzhambu to be too spicy, add a small piece of jaggery towards the end immediately after removing from heat.

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