Tuesday, January 19, 2010

By the Book and Karuvepillai Kuzhambu

Few days ago when we posted the Moong dhal Halwa for the Indian cooking challenge, I chanced to read Jayashree's blog posts. This one By the book attracted me so much that I asked her if I can pick it up and continue the thread. She accepted and therefore I am showing you my MOST THUMBED YET VERY TREASURED Cookbook.

Apart from my mother's recipe cum Kolam note book shown above, Samaiththu (p)Paar by S. Meenakshi ammal is my most used book. All the three volumes come with numerous home cooked recipes that work very nearly to my tastes. I was first introduced to this author by my cousin's wife. She lived then in Coimbatore and naturally I visited them when the hostel I was living in starved me of good food. During the first year of my marriage, I lived with my parents-in-law and my husband was away in Mangalore. This manni of mine took it upon herself to invite me for every small religious festivals for lunch and such. She used to fulfill the 'duties' to the newly wedded daughter of the home. She was given these books by her mother and showed me how useful they were.

In 1988, my sister purchased three sets of all the three volumes for me, herself and our other sister. As it is my habit to pen notes below the recipes once I have tried them, this book is full of blue penned notes. Now the books are so old that the paper has become brittle, yet I am not willing to discard and purchase a new set. I shall probably buy the english version that might help Niki later.

This is my Bible in terms of cooking. If you want traditional Tamil Brahmin cooking every recipe is in the book. I have shown you the current day condition of the book. My pictures may tell you more than words.

Jayashree has not started this as an event, but would love if any of you will want to show your books to us. She had suggested that if I were to tag anyone, or anyone willingly takes this up, to please leave a comment on her post here. Same goes with me, please drop a comment thread on this post with the URL of your post, just for fun reading. There are no conditions. So go ahead and do it if you love a book. Just as a beginning I would love some of my friends to take this up. Hence I am tagging them. The rest of you are very welcome too.
I would love Priya, Indhu, Jayasri, Sailaja and Shanthi to start rolling this on.

Now to the recipe for karuveppilai kuzhambu...from the above book naturally.

Two fists full of curry leaves
3 numbers dry red chillies
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
A lime size ball of tamarind
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
4 tablespoons Sesame seeds oil
For tempering:
1 teaspoon oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Soak the tamarind in water and extract a thick pulp.
Dry roast the red chillis and peppercorns.
Grind the roasted chillis and pepper along with salt and the curry leaves to a fine paste.
Mix this to the extracted tamarind pulp. Add the turmeric powder and the asafoetida.
Heat Sesame seeds oil in a heavy bottom rounded pan. Add the above pulp and some water to it.
Bring to a boil and simmer for about 12 minutes-15 minutes until the raw taste subsides and the gravy thickens. Oil will float over the cooked gravy.
Switch off the fire.
In a different pan add the mustard seeds to hot oil and allow them to crackle. Transfer this tempering to the kuzhambu.
The kuzhambu works fine with hot rice or arisi upma, kozhukkattai etc.
This kuzhambu can stay well for about four to five days even without refridgeration.
Looking forward to see you showing us the most beloved books...on a different note it can be any book for that matter...I have read and re-read many that way :)


  1. Hi lata thanks for visiting my blog and giving a nice comment.When I was newly married or when my daughter was very small,I was presented with Meenakshi ammal's english version so that time I took tips from her books on our south indian thaligai.Later on I took tips from my m-in-law on many tiffin items and also from my close friend and improvised on them.Now I experiment on my own and try to cook up something.

  2. your karveppalai kuzhambu looks hot and yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy inviting me to have with rice and some pachadi or vathal vadam.

  3. Lataji, the kuzhambu looks droolworthy and I am already hungry at 12:45am LOL.
    The thread looks interesting but I do not want to commit myself right now because of my back, as u know.

  4. Hi Lata, Ihave still preserved the meenakshi ammal english samaithu par book though it is tattered and torn.I am treasuring it and preserving it still after so many long years.I just take some tips from some north indian friends for north indian cooking and try to improvise on them.

  5. Lataji this is very interesting thread, the Karupillai kuzhambu looks fantastic.

  6. Old is Gold, huh? I see how much u ve used those books.
    Kuzhambu with little parrupu togaiyal/pappad would be heaven!

  7. Delicious kuzhambu, looks incredible...Haha cookbook i have a old cookbook of my mom, definitely will post my old and gold cook notebook..

  8. hi lata, love karuveppilai kozambhu, few days Mr.R made it!!!, I was really surprised when you said you tagged me, you know what, just now I remembered some of my blogger friends had given me some precious little lovely awards which I still have not put them in my blog !!, I have to check them out !!, they must have felt very bad about me, but they did not know that I had no Idea of how to copy it and put it in my blog, the one I posted was done my daughter !! :) !!, and I was actually planning to post my book where I started writing recipes very long back, you made me do it, (think alike are we ? :))!! thank you very much

  9. Nice read Lata ji! I have Samaippadhu Eppadi by Srimathi Vedavalli Venkatachari which my mom passed on to me when I came to the US. It was her Bible during the initial years of her marriage when she didn't know the ABC's of cooking :-). I have a few recipes from that book that I tried recently which are sitting in my drafts.

    Your karuveppilai kuzhambu seems to be much simpler and has a very nice consistency and texture. I love it anytime with hotrice and a spoon of ghee... awwwwwww, I'm already drooling :-)

    1. I have the same book and I love it.

  10. Thank you Lata for your tag and fantastic karuveppilai kozhambu, thick and eye catching

  11. Yummy ...it makes me feel hungry too...will try it in the weekend...thanks for the recipe

  12. Nice post latha akka..is that the recipe for maida cake in your mother's book?How elaborately she has written the procedure..hats off...I really didn't possess a cookbook until I started blogging..:-)So no fond memories attached with a cookbook as such..but loved reading your post..I liked the way your sister bought 3 sets of cookbook.we too do the same..anything interseting we see, we generally buy three, for me, sis and mother. :-)

  13. yummy kozhumbu recipe..have to try it sometime..and yes, those preserved recipe diaries are indeed treasures..

  14. Hi Lata,u have an award waiting for u in my blog. Please collect it.

  15. Hi dearie, An Award Awaits U..check out my blog..please accept it!have fun.

  16. Thank you everyone. Agree Priya, it really feels good.
    Indhu and Sowmya, Thank you so much for sharing the lovely award with me. Will acknowledge soon.

  17. Thank you for taking this up. I can see how well-loved your mother's recipe book is. I recently bought Meenakshi Ammal's books(the English version) and am planning to try out some recipes soon.

  18. hi lataji, kuzhambu looks very inviting. Nice post lataji. Lots of Emotions in the post and also the comments!!!

  19. Thank you Jayashree for giving this opportunity.I hope the responses will awe us. i would love to see all those well-loved books on show :)
    Thanks Priya, I agree there is lot of sentiment flowing. That is wonderful isn't it?

  20. I would love to have this with rice, it sounds fantastic!
    Very nice post lataji!!!

  21. My Maternal grand parents had karuvepilai maram/tree and this kuzhambu is quite often in my grand parent's place .Whenever we visit her my mom used to get bunches of fresh leaves just for this kuzhambu and karuvepilai thogayal.The kuzhambu and thogyal made out of freshly plucked leaves are out of the world.Your picture reminds me of my grandma's kuzhambu and I am going to try it soon.:).

  22. The karvapillai kozhambu looks delicious ! Loved the picture of your amma's notebook, my mother used to have a book filled with recipes and kolams too :-)

  23. Excellent post. My treasured recipe book is from my mother which she noted down from her MIL! The best recipes are from your family, glad you saved that book. Kuzhambu looks mouthwatering.

  24. lathaji
    your karvapillai kozhambu looks very good. I lost my karvapillai plant during this frost. I don't know will come back or not. I will try this when i get some karvapillai

  25. Thank you asha and Swathi. Swathi I do hope for you so too.

  26. Mouth watering karuveppalai kuzhambu. Apart from the taste, it is very healthy too. Even I would love to devour with hot steamy rice and vadams. :):)


  27. Yummy and nice flavoured kuzhambu...

  28. loved this post... and when I read the tamizh text... I was feeling nostalgic :)

  29. i have my amma's handwritten recipebook too... it's a treasure isn't it?

    yummy kozhambu.. pakave supera iruku and your poojai arai is very nice.

  30. Very interesting collection lataji. Karuvepalai kozhambu also looks awesome. I have also told jay that i will join soon and tag few people.


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Hope we shall interact often.
Thanks once again,
Lata Raja.