November 5, 2012

Paruppu urundai Kuzhambu

Paruppu urundai kuzhambu (steamed lentil koftas in tamarind based stew) is a protein-rich traditional south-Indian recipe - carried over for generations. I remember tasting this recipe from my great grand-mom 's kitchen. I don 't remember my mom/grand-mom making this, but my mom-in-law makes this every now and then, especially when her fridge runs out of vegetables. 

This is one of VJ's absolute favorite and it had been a while since I made this kuzhambu. Last week I decided to give him a little surprise by making this kuzhambu for dinner. I gave a little twist to the traditional recipe though, by adding onions to the gravy. Nevertheless, we loved the taste & flavor of onion in the gravy. Initially, I was a little skeptical that the flavor of onion might be over-powering, but I was wrong! Incase you are planning to go the traditional way, just skip adding onions to urundai (or) gravy. It tastes just as good as the other version.

This kuzhambu doesn't need curry/side of any sort. Hot rice & sutta appalam with 2-3 balls and couple of ladleful of kuzhambu is so filling & soul-gratifying.

Basic Info
Complexity - difficult
Prep time - 1 hr
Cook time - 1.5 - 2 hrs
Serves - 3

For paruppu urundai / koftas:
Toor dal - 1/2 cup
Channa Dal - 1/2 cup
Red chillies - 4 nos
Cabbage - 2-3 tbsp (finely chopped). You can also use chopped onion (2-3 tbsp) instead of cabbage.
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves - few

For kuzhambu / gravy:
Oil - 2 tsp
Onion - 1 large size (chopped)
Tomato - 2 nos (chopped)
Tamarind - 1 small gooseberry size (soak in a cup of warm water for 15 mins and extract juice from it)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Sambar powder - 1 tsp
Salt - to taste

For Seasoning:
Oil - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Dry red chillies - 2 nos
Cilantro - 1-2 tbsp

For paruppu urundai / koftas:
Soak channa dal & toor dal in water for about an hour. After an hour, drain the water and grind it into a fine paste with red chillies, cumin seeds, salt, turmeric powder, curry leaves, asafoetida. Add finely chopped cabbage/onion with this and mix well.

Make golf sized balls and microwave them for upto 4 mins on high turning the balls in-between exactly after 2 mins. 

Alternatively, you can also steam them in an idly maker for upto 10 minutes. Lentil balls are ready, keep them aside.

For Kuzhambu / gravy: 
Heat about 2 tsp of oil and add chopped onion. Saute till onions turns translucent. Add tomatoes and continue sauteing until tomatoes are soft & mushy. Let it cool and grind it into a fine paste. Sprinkle little water only if required.

Heat about 2 tsp of oil. When hot, add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add fenugreek seeds, dry red chillies and roast them until fenugreek seeds turn reddish-brown. Don't let fenugreek seeds to over-roast as it gives a bitter taste to kuzhambu. Add tamarind water, salt, turmeric powder, sambar powder and let them boil until raw smell of tamarind water / sambar powder goes off. When the gravy starts to thicken carefully add all the lentil balls.

Keep the flame low and let it boil for 5 more minutes. Turn off heat and add chopped cilantro.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

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