Just before leaving for Mangalore to start a new home, our first home, I indulged myself with loads of Anjali home gadgets, Yera glassware and all kinds of clutter too. Though I knew Raja would not eat much other than potatoes, carrots, beans and the likes, I went ahead and purchased a set of cookbooks in two volumes (this was before my sister bought for me the Meenakshi ammal books). I have used them off and on but not as much as my other favourite books. These two also have very traditional South Indian recipes and one of them is today's recipe.
I had never ventured to make it until recently as all of the vegetables listed in the book for this recipe have been on my husband's never-will-I-eat these list. Then when amma gave me her notebook to copy the recipes down, I found one of my cousins had given amma a recipe with the same name. Then I decided that I am making it and if Raja is not eating too, I am!
I had pumpkin and drumsticks, but had not purchased brinjals in a while and the ash gourd is not available in this country. The recipe states you might make with a mix of the four or even with just one or two. I had some big cucumbers and substituted them for the ash gourd. I loved the kuzhambu, should be a kootu rather. And, Raja had it too picking at the vegetables. So I had a double serving of the vegetables while both relished the kuzhambu. Though the book lists only these vegetables, I think most other vegetables will be suitable too.
Recipe source: SamaiyarKalai by Ku. Pa. Sethu Ammal (book 2)
Ash gourd, red pumpkin, brinjals and drumsticks cut in big chunks 1 cup
Tamarind a ball the size of a big lime
Dry red chillis 6 ( adjust as required spice)
Coriander seeds 3 teaspoons
Channa dhal 3 teaspoons
Urad dhal 3 teaspoons
Fresh coconut 2 tablespoons ( you may use store bought dessicated coconut)
Green chillis 2
Mustard seeds 3/4ths of a teaspoon
Turmeric powder 1/4 teaspoon
Curry leaves few sprigs
Oil 3 table spoons
Salt to taste
Wash the vegetables and steam them adding the turmeric powder until soft. Place the tamarind in a small bowl alongside the cooking vegetables and allow to soften. Add the salt half way through the steaming and at that point remove the bowl with the tamarind.
Retain 1 teaspoon each of the urad and channa dhal for tempering. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan and roast the red chillis, coriander seeds and the remaining dhals until they are golden.
Roast the coconut until lightly brown and very aromatic.
Grind the roasted ingredients along with the softened tamarind to a very fine paste.
Add more water to this paste and mix the steamed vegetables to the paste.
Heat the rest of the oil in a heavy pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow to crackle. Add the retained dhals and curry leaves. Saute' for few minutes before adding the vegetables and the paste. Bring to a boil and simmer for just about few more minutes before switching the heat off.
Enjoy with hot steamed rice.