Vendaya Kuzhambu is a very popular, tangy and traditional gravy variety in Tamilnadu cuisine. It is a very simple dish and can be made in minutes with the simplest of ingredients from the anjarai petti / masala dabba. This kuzhambu/gravy is prepared by cooking the tamarind extract in roasted lentils , methi seeds and spices. The tangy flavour of tamarind and the slight bitterness from methi seeds are well complemented by the addition of red chillies and jaggery. The final addition of appalam/pappadams to the gravy is optional but addicting this gives a rich and glossy texture and appearance. Vendaya Kuzhambu is usually served with steamed rice and a dash of ghee.
Vendaya kuzhambu can be prepared by many ways. It can be prepared by adding freshly ground spice powders or by simply tossing few basic ingredients to the tamarind extract. Today’s recipe is by the simplest method and does not require any grinding of spices.
|Tamarind||Small lemon size|
|Sesame oil or regular oil||2 to 3 tablespoon|
|Mustard seeds||1 teaspoon|
|Toor dhal||1 teaspoon|
|Urad dhal||1 teaspoon|
|Channa dhal||1 teaspoon|
|Vendayam / Methi seeds||1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon|
|Hing / Asafotedia||1/2 teaspoon|
|Sambar powder||1/2 teaspoon|
|Appalam / Pappadam (optional)||2|
|Rice flour (optional) /for thickening||2 teaspoon|
- Soak the tamarind in warm water for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, extract about 2 1/2 to 3 cups of tamarind juice.
- In a pan, add 2 to 3 tablespoon of sesame oil or regular oil, add mustard seeds. Allow the mustard seeds to crackle.
- With the heat on medium to low, add toor dhal, urad dhal and channa dhal. Sauté this for few seconds. When the lentils start to change colour, add the broken red chillies, vendayam /methi seeds and curry leaves. Add hing and turmeric powder. Do not roast for too long after adding methi seeds and red chillies. This entire process of roasting the lentils should be done in low flame so as to avoid charring of the ingredients.
- When the lentils have turned golden brown, add the tamarind extract, salt and 1/2 teaspoon sambar powder. Allow it to cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
- While the gravy is cooking, add a piece of jaggery. Let it cook for few more minutes until the gravy thickens. At this stage, taste and check for salt and sourness of the kuzhambu. If the gravy is too sour, add little bit more (1/4 th teaspoon) sambar powder and jaggery and adjust the flavours and taste.
- If the gravy is slightly watery, then add rice flour paste for thickening the gravy. To make rice flour paste, take 2 teaspoon of rice flour in a cup and make a thick paste using water. Pour this rice flour paste to the gravy / kuzhambu simultaneously stirring it with a ladle to avoid lumps.
- Switch off the flame. For a final touch, add 2 sutta appalams/pappadams ( papadam cooked directly on fire) or fried papadams.
- Serve Vendaya kuzhambu with steamed rice and ghee.
- Apart from vendayam /methi seeds, you can add 1/4 th to 1/2 teaspoon of vendayam powder/methi powder if available.
- Instead of pappadam, you can add cooked vegetables like okra.
- Depending on the quality or brand of tamarind you are using, the kuzhambu might end up to be sour. The sour taste from tamarind has to be well balanced by the red chillies and jaggery. So while the kuzhambu is getting cooked, taste and see for the flavours. If it is too sour, add little bit more sambar powder and jaggery. Jaggery also helps in balancing out the tangy and spicy flavours.