Posts Tagged ‘Vathakozhambu’

Vathakozhambu with a twist(Saravana Bhavan style)

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

My sister whose recipes I have tried here like these kebabs, stuffed uthappams,cabbage puttu and who taught me the art of making briyanis in a clay pot is on a mission these days- to keep me in the kitchen all day. She keeps sending me pictures of recipes she has been cooking for her family(well I do it all the time too, but since I am younger I get to complain :D ). I had two choices, accept my defeat and beg her for the recipe or just look at the pictures and drool. I took route 1 mainly(ahem!!) because I am busy with taking R to various classes and activities and do not have the energy to follow her instructions. Apart from that I have handed over the job of finding and providing interesting recipes for this blog for the next couple of days. After all what are big sisters for? She does all the work and I get all the credits as usual :) So, coming to you live from Dubai for the next month will be my sister Sowmeya’s recipes starting with this HSB style kozhambu. As you know, you cannot separate the combination- Iyers and Vathakozhambu and also aloo kari and vathakozhambu!!

Besides, the day she sent me this recipe something hilarious happened that I am sure N is not going to forget it for a long time. It was our anniversary(6 years!!) and I woke up early as usual, looked around for flowers, cakes, gifts- this n that..nothing was there in the kitchen or in the living room. I marched to the garage to see if he has placed anything in my car. Nope. I was fuming and I just sat down waiting for him to wake up(This means war as you know) and when he came to the kitchen I started
ranting like” How could you” and “After all I do for you and R”…and so on and so forth..He listened to it for a good 15 minutes and said, “Actually our anniversary is tomorrow” :D

I ended up making this the very same day to sort of say sorry because I know he loves Hotel Saravana Bhavan recipes very much and we were the sort of people who drove from Utah to California to eat at HSB during grad school. We go to HSB when we go to Seattle or Vancouver and to the East coast. I wonder why there is no HSB in Houston!

So I can honestly say that, if you are looking for the HSB style vathakozhambu- the looks, the aroma, the taste- people this is it. Go for it.

Over to you sis…

At home while growing up, I loved vatha kuzhambu so much that my mom used to say that I had vatha kuzhambu in my veins. (It was rasam in my sis’s veins). Thankfully, the tradition of vathakuzhambu love continues with both hubby and son Aryan loving the taste of it. Ary in fact, can identify what I have cooked when he enters the house and grins ear to ear if he smells his fav vatha kuzhambu. Hubby loves the vatha kuzhambu served at restaurants (mainly Saravan Bhanvan) and has been asking me to replicate the same, (High hopes). When we visited his cousin living here, his mom made this vatha kuzhambu. Since this tasted divine I wasted no time in getting the recipe from her. I make it often as the demand is very high for this.

Ingredients :
Drumstick – 6-7 pieces
Sundaikkai, Manathakkali vathal ( any vatthal will do )- 2-3 tbsp
Big Red onion – 2 ,finely chopped
Tamarind pulp – 1 cup(about 300ml water and 1/4 tsp tamarind paste)
Salt to taste

To grind:
Small onions/shallots – 4
Garlic – 2 cloves
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
Coconut grated – 3 table spoons
Tomato – 1 (chopped)
Red chilies- 3 to 4

For tempering:
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds- 1 pinch
curry leaves-few
Gingelly oil – 3 teaspoons

Method :

Grind the tomato, garlic, shallots, coconut, red chilies and coriander seeds to a smooth paste with a little amount of water. There is no need to roast the ingredients. It has to be raw.If you like you can also grind it with coconut milk instead of adding coconut.

Heat the oil in a kadai. Add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. When they splutter, add chopped onions, the vathal and drumstick. Saute till oinons are translucent. Add the ground paste and saute for a good 3-4 minutes . Add the tamarind water and salt. Cover and simmer for a good 15 minutes on a medium flame till the drumstick is fully cooked and the oil floats on top.

If you think it is very thin and watery, can add rice flour paste. Mix 1 tbsp of rice flour in water just enough to make a thick paste, add this to the boiling kozhambu and simmer for another 2-3 minutes. It will be thick as there is coconut in the paste and it will thicken up as it sits.

Switch off. Serve this with any of this : coconut thogayal, achari aloo kari, aloo kari with coconut, kootu or morekootu.

The above said quantity will be enough for 2 people. If you need your kozhambu spicy or tangy, adjust the ratio of chilies and tamarind accordingly.

Greek hay- Cooking with Fenugreek

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Venthayam(Methi in Hindi and Fenugreek in English) is a regular herb used in South Indian cooking, atleast once a week. Most of the spice powders will have the addition of roasted fenugreek, and it is also common in pickles to act as a stabilizer.

Both the leaves and seeds are used for cooking and flavoring, though they taste slightly bitter. Besides cooking, Fenugreek has a lot of medicinal uses:

- Fenugreek seeds help to lower cholesterol levels.

- The seeds are used as a cure(to control) diabetes (Check with the doctor first before using, as there can be some side effects)

- For women, fenugreek seeds are a good cure for Menopause and PMS. Regular use of fenugreek will increase lactation for nursing mothers. But if taken during pregnancy, the fenugreek infused water can induce labor, because of this use, it is also given during labor to help in the process of child birth. Fenugreek seeds with rice or Urad Dal(black lentil gram) is made into a soft pudding and that also helps to strengthen the uterus.

- Soaking a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in half a cup of yogurt and taking it in the morning will reduce body heat.

- Fenugreek seeds with yogurt is a good cure for uncomfortable tummy (Diarrhea).

- When used with yogurt or vinegar as a conditioner, fenugreek seed paste can help in hair growth.

How to use fenugreek in cooking:

I like using fenugreek seeds for a spicy tamarind sauce and the leaves for a comforting rice dish(Khichdi).

Methi Khichdi: (Vegetables, rice and lentils with Fenugreek leaves)

Ingredients: serves-2

Rice- 1 cup
Lentils(yellow or green moong beans)- 1/2 cup
Salt- to taste
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala powder- 2 tsp
Green chilies-2
Chopped Ginger and Garlic- 1 tsp each
Red onions- Chopped-1/4 cup
Fenugreek leaves- 1 cup
Mixed vegetables (carrot, peas,cauliflower, potato, beans)- all together- 1 cup
Olive oil- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Cinnamon sticks- 1″ piece
Bay leaf-1
Cilantro leaves- to garnish

Method:


This dish can be prepared as a one pot dish, in a slow cooker, in a pressure cooker or a rice cooker. With mild spices and vegetables, it is the comfort food for a weekend brunch or a weekday dinner. It is very simple to prepare this khichdi and you can throw in all the veggies you want if you want to clear out the fridge. Whichever way you cook, add lot of water to cook the rice.

Stove top: Wash the lentils and rice, keep aside.Heat olive oil in a pan, add cumin seeds, bay leaf and cinnamon sticks. Fry well for a minute, add onions, green chilies, ginger and garlic and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the fenugreek leaves, chopped vegetables, salt, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and stir fry well for another 2-3 minutes. Add about 6 cups of water, cover and let it simmer. Once the water is boiling, add the lentils and rice and simmer for 25 minutes or till the rice is cooked. Once in a while, mix the veggies and rice well and mash it as you cook. The more you mash them all together, the more tasty it till be. Once all of the veggies and rice is well mashed and is cooked through, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with spiced yogurt(Kadhi).

Pressure cooker: Follow almost the same method but instead of waiting till the veggies are cooked, add rice and lentils and pressure cook for 2 whistles.

Rice Cooker: Cook till stir frying the vegetables in a pan. In the rice cooker, add water, rice and lentils and transfer the stir fried vegetables to the rice cooker. Cover and let it cook like normal rice.

Slow cooker: Stir fry the vegetables in the pan, transfer the rice, lentils and the vegetables to the slow cooker. Add atleast 8 cups of water (slow cooker needs more water than a rice cooker), set it on high (3 hours) or low(8 hours) for the rice to cook.

Cooking with Fenugreek Seeds:

Appalam Vathakozhambu (Poppadams in spicy tamarind sauce)

Can you cook without any vegetable to make a sauce? That too with poppadams? Sure you can. The simplest of all sauces in South Indian cooking, a favorite for summer season to have with yogurt rice.

Ingredients: (Serves-2)

Poppadams (about 14 each)

Green chilies- 2 each

Red Chilies- 2 each

Curry Leaves- 5

Tamarind- 1 small lemon size

Red Chili Powder- 1/2 tsp

Turmeric Powder- 1/4 tsp

Mustard seeds- 1 tsp

Fenugreek seeds- 1/2 tsp

Chana dal- 1 tsp

Asafoetida- 2 pinches

Salt- to taste

Gingerly oil- 4 tbsp (You can also use light olive oil)

Rice flour- 1 tbsp

To be ground to a powder

Coriander seeds- 1.5 tsp

Red Chilies-4

Chana dal- 1 tsp

Fenugreek seeds- 1/4 tsp

Method:

Soak the tamarind in about 200 ml of hot water. You can also substitute 1/4 tsp of tamarind paste for this. Squeeze out the juice from the tamarind, add another 100 ml of water, extract the juice again, filter and discard the pulp.

Roughly break the poppadams into two. Slit green chilies lengthwise.

Heat oil in a thick bottomed vessel(kadai) and add hing and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add chana dhal, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves ,red chilies and green chilies. Stir fry for a minute. Add the poppadams and salt and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and stir fry till the raw smell of the red chili powder disappears.

Pour the 300 ml of tamarind water into the pan and simmer for 15-20minutes(tiill poppadams are tender). The tamarind water should have reduced to at least 1/2 of its original volume.

In the mean time, toast(dry fry) the coriander seeds,red chilies, chana dal, fenugreek seeds to a golden brown color. Cool and grind to a fine powder. This powder is my version of the vathakozhambu powders sold in stores. I grind it fresh, but you can also sprinkle some store bought vathakozhambu powder if you want.

In a bowl, mix about 3 tbsp of water and rice flour into a thick paste. Add the ground powder to this paste and add these to the boiling kozhambu. Stir well to avoid any lumps.

Let it simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Switch off. Serve hot with rice and spicy potato stir fry or stuffed  okras.

The Methi Khichdi is my entry for Yasmeen Health Nut’s Bitter- Better Health Event.

The appalam kozhambu is my entry for cooking with fenugreek seeds byDenufood an event started by Priya.

Onion Vathakuzhambu (Onions in Spicy Tamarind Sauce)

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Growing up in Tamilnadu I had vathakozhambu almost once every week. But it never was boring and if there were not many ingredients to make a sambar or kootu or aviyal the easy option was to make a vathakozhambu. The name vatha means thickened or concentrated and kozhambu is the other version of sambar made without lentils.  Vathakozhambus can be made with just onions or okras or even with appalam or vathals. Each type of vathakozhambu has its own taste. Vathakozhambu has to be thick in such a way that it would coat a spoon if its dipped into it. My favorite combinations to eat with vathakozhambu are rice with paruppu podi(spiced lentil powder) and yogurt rice. Yogurt rice and vathakozhambu would be the ultimate combination for the hot summers in India. A spoon of yogurt rice drizzled with vathakozhambu, that too made in the morning and absorbing flavors all day would be like nectar. Vathakozhambus taste good as it sits and can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days(as its not made with lentils or coconut ).

There is this friend of mine, M, who after hearing all the stories about vathakozhambu called me for dinner one day. She proudly served me her version of vathakozhambu and declared that its been”vatthing” (thickening) on the stove from morning. Her version was more like a Rasam as she  was boiling it like a pot of water with onions since morning :)

My dad always says that the art of making sambars and vathakozhambus  comes with the “kai-manam” (hand that makes a dish delectable)

I use the  fresh small red onions to make vathakozhambu as the frozen ones do not cook so well and they also taste bland no matter how long you thaw the frozen ones.

Ingredients: (Serves-2)

Pearl onions- 1/2 cup (peeled)

Green chilies- 2 each

Red Chilies- 2 each

Curry Leaves- 5

Tamarind- 1 small lemon size

Red Chili Powder- 1/2 tsp

Sambar Powder-3/4 tsp

Turmeric Powder- 1/4 tsp

Mustard seeds- 1 tsp

Chana dal- 1 tsp

Hing- 2 pinches

Salt- to taste

Gingerly oil- 4 tbsp (You can also use light olive oil)

Rice flour- 1 tbsp

To be ground to a powder

Coriander seeds- 1.5 tsp

Red Chilies-4

Chana dal- 1 tsp

Method:

Soak the tamarind in about 200 ml of hot water. You can also substitute 1/4 tsp of tamarind paste for this. Squeeze out the juice from the tamarind, add another 100 ml of water, extract the juice again, filter and discard the pulp.

Peel the skin of pearl onions and chop them into two. Slit green chilies lengthwise.

Heat oil in a thick bottomed vessel(kadai) and add hing and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add chana dhal, curry leaves ,red chilies and green chilies. Stir fry for a minute. Add the onions and salt and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder,sambar powder and stir fry till the raw smell of the red chili powder disappears.

Pour the 300 ml of tamarind water into the pan and simmer for 15-20minutes(till onions are tender and transparent). The tamarind water should have reduced to at least 1/2 of its original volume.

In the mean time, toast(dry fry) the coriander seeds,red chilies, chana dal to a golden brown color. Cool and grind to a fine powder. This powder is my version of the vathakozhambu powders sold in stores. I grind it fresh, but you can also sprinkle some store bought vathakozhambu powder if you want.

In a bowl, mix about 3 tbsp of water and rice flour into a thick paste. Add the ground powder to this paste and add these to the boiling kozhambu. Stir well to avoid any lumps.

Let it simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Switch off. Serve hot with rice and poppadams or rice and potato kari.