Preparation / Directions:
Well, if you don't mind a visit to the local Indian grocer, here is a TRUE Tamilian (South Indian) dish.
The usual way to eat it is to mix it with boiled plain rice. Some edible oil or melted butter can be added to reduce the hot taste depending on the taste buds.
THE side dish for vaththalkuzhambu is 'sutta appaLaam' (toasted rice/lentil wafers) - a very complicated one to make from scratch. These are available at all Indian grocers and need to be just toasted over gas/electric stove.
THE dish for which vaththalkuzhambu is a good side dish is 'thayir chaadham' (boiled rice mixed with yogurt and salt).
All the ingredients should be available at Indian grocery stores, except the exotic ManaththangaLikkai/Subdaikkai, which may not be in all stores. But as you can see below, it forms the last of the ingredients in importance (yes, purists will contest it!).
Turn on the exhaust fan before the spice roast smell hits you!
* Manath-than-gaLik-kaai and Sun-daik-kaai - VERY special wild berries. Sundaikkai is cranapple size and Mana... is peppercorn size. Dried, salted, and later roasted, these ARE unique (a bit like anchovies). Available at some Indian grocers. To identify when buying, Sund... is 1 cm dia and looks black. Mana looks like peppercorn. They have bitter+salty taste.
1. Dissolve tamarind concentrate paste in 1.5 cups of water. Filter the juice to remove any dregs. Keep it away for now.
2. Add 1 teaspoon of rice powder to 1 cups of water and blend EVENLY. Keep it away for now.
3. Switch on you exhaust and have some ventilation (it is not needed if cooking is done right) but it never is :) - don't blame yourself for poor ventilation later.
4. Warm sauce pan and add the cooking oil.
5. Add in order : Mustard, Chana Daal, Vendhayam (Fenugreek), and Peanuts. If available, add Sundaikkai and/or ManaththangaLikkai vaththal.
6. Wait until the Daal gets brown (or Mustard starts cracking) and turn stove to low heat.
7. Add the Tamarind juice and then the Chile powder.
8. Add Asafetida, cover pan and let it boil for 4-5 minutes.
9. Add rice water, salt and then curry leaves.
10. Mix evenly and let it simmer until it thickens to the consistency of a thick soup - about 3-5 minutes. Put the stove on medium heat if need be. The water will evaporate from the mix and the mix will thicken - don't let it burn. Keep an eye on it and turn stove off to cool when done.
AppaLaams (also called Paapad) are available at all Indian grocers. AppaLaam is Sun dried rice/lentil wafer - a very tedious recipe. Roast a few appaLaams directly over a gas grill or electric stove coil. To make an even roast, keep alternating the side of the appaLaam to the flame. The appaLaam should be fully roasted and at the same time not be burnt (black). To overcome this intricate roasting, some grocers sell microwave appaLaam now. If roasting doesn't work, try deep frying the appaLaam - again, heat the oil well first and don't let the appaLaam become dark. If all else fails, get a bag of good corn / potato chips.
Boil and cool 1 cup of plain rice. Add a teaspoon of edible oil or melted butter. Add Vaththalkuzhambu and mix. Add more oil or butter as needed for taste. Enjoy this with appaLaam as side dish.
If you prefer it NOT hot : Mix boiled and cooled rice with plain yogurt to an edible consistency. Add a pinch of salt. Eat this with 'vaththalkuzhambu' as