Vatral Kuzhambu

Course : Curry
Serves: 1
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2 tablespoons oil -- preferably sesame oil (to 3 tbsp)
1/2 teaspoon venthayam -- (fenugreek)
1/2 teaspoon kaduku -- (mustard)
1 teaspoon kadalai paruppu -- (channa dal) - (to 2 tsp)
1 bunch manathakkali -- (or)
1 bunch cundaikai -- (or)
1 bunch kathirikai vatral
1 bunch sundried small eggplant -- (or)
1 bunch oranguthol vatral
1 bunch sun-dried tangerine peel -- (or)
4 medium dried red chile pepper -- (to 5)
2 medium strands karuvepilai -- (curry leaves)
2 teaspoons sambhaar powder
1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind paste dissolved thoroughly in 8 cups of water
1/3 cup peanuts -- (instead of vatral), optional
1/8 piece two appalams -- (instead of vatral), optional
5 medium fresh vendaikai -- (okra), (to 6), optional cut to about an inch length
1/2 medium Onion -- cut to 1 inch long x 1/10 inch wide, optional (instead of vatral)
5 medium karanai kizhangu -- boiled and peeled (to 6), optional (instead of vatral)

Preparation / Directions:

Take a `vanali' like vessel (a deep dish). Add oil and heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. When they are completely fried, add Venthayam, Kaduku, Kadalai Paruppu and vatrals (whatever you chose) or peanuts or appalams. When the ingredients turn red add chile pepper and stir for less than 1/2 minute. Add Karuvepilai and stir for 20 - 30 seconds. Add sambhaar powder and stir for 20 - 30 seconds. Do not let the powder burn! Immediately add the tamarind water. Add optional items. Add a pinch of perungayam (asafetida). (This is not necessary if you are using onion). Allow the mixture to boil until half the amount of water evaporates. Add salt to taste. Notes: The resulting `kuzhambu' is thick. Hence the name `vatriya kuzhambu'! Else, because `vatral' is used it is referred to as `vatral kuzhambu'. There is no harm calling it as `vatriya kuzhambu', because we use 'vatriya' kai. For those of you who do not know what a `vatral' is, it means sun dried stuff. The items I have quoted as `vatral' is by no means exhaustive. Sincere advice: Cook `thuvaram paruppu' (thoor daal) and prepare `nei' (ghee). This stuff is hot. So eat it with care. Add little of the `kuzhambu' and then go for more, if you feel comfortable. Usually this is accompanied by `keerai masiyal' (well cooked `keerai' (spinach)). The intensity of this `kuzhambu' greatly depends the sambhaar powder. If your powder is mild you need

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