Wednesday, November 9, 2011

No 'moar'-kuzhambu and eating vegan through a day

'What is there to change in a South Indian diet when most of it is nearly vegan' is what my husband commented as I discussed the idea of staying vegan through a day. I had to convince him to join in, you see. I listed out the dairy that we use on a regular basis and I could see that I might be losing his support.
Eventually, we agreed upon a menu, I suggested then that I will serve him black tea (for green tea would have put a full stop to the plans then and there). He chuckled thinking of the teas he might have at work, and agreed. To coax him enough, I made puri and kizhangu for breakfast and neer dosa for dinner! Having set that, I worked though the lunch where I had my trump card for him!
The one thing I had forgotten was the morning tea! Which household in our regions does not wake up to a steaming hot filter kapi or a blissful cup of chai? However, he was a good sport and had the black tea without fuss.
Thus a Saturday of cooking and eating vegan was otherwise novel. I had not thought it would be easy to forgo 'nei' and thick home set yoghurt even for a day!
I had earlier made the vegan cashew yoghurt from Harini's post and used in the Badami mixed vegetables recipe. The yoghurt had set so well and tasted very good that I used other ingredients to set yoghurt - peanuts once and coconut milk a few times.
The method I used was always the same; warm the coconut milk until moderately warm and drop about 15 chilli crowns in it and allow that to work. Initially, I had, without knowledge, used the second extract and found that the yoghurt was not as thick as I would like it to be.
With a few trials, I learnt that while the chilli crowns are indeed a good option, setting this with a bit of other vegan set yoghurt, for instance the cashew yoghurt, expedites the process. This yoghurt set in about five hours on warm days. I had planned to use this yoghurt and try the regular moarkuzhambu that uses a fair amount of churned yoghurt as key ingredient.
Having made up my mind on that, the lunch menu was also set : Vendaikkai vathakkal kari, vegan moarkuzhambhu, steamed rice and a kootu which uses a base of legumes (a recipe, I thought will help just in case my husband is not inspired to eat a vegan moarkuzhambu).

I have not posted the poori-kiazhangu until now; (I am making a mental note of that). Neither have I discussed vendaikkai vathakkal kari, other than from Aparna's recipe for a days' lunch. All of these will be posted in the near future.
However, today's star recipe is the 'Vegan moarkuzhambu'.

1/2 cup/125ml preset coconut-milk yoghurt (recipe discussed below)
Salt to taste
1/4th teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4th teaspoon asafoetida powder
Suitable vegetable cuts of your choice (I used brinjals)

Grind the following to a paste:
1 teaspoon split bengal gram / channa dhal
1/2 teaspoon thuvar dhal
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon raw rice kernels
3 large green chillis
Soak these in a small amount of water for a few minutes and grind to a smooth paste.
I skipped the usual addition of fresh grated coconut as the yoghurt already has a fair portion of the same.

For garnish:
2 teaspoons coconut oil (or any cooking oil)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4th teaspoon cumin seeds
Few sprigs curry leaves
Chopped coriander leaves (if available)

Setting coconut milk yoghurt:
Take one cup of first extract coconut milk in a bowl. Warm this on a moderate flame until the milk is warm. Do not boil the milk.
Remove from the stove and drop about 15 numbers fresh chilli crowns in the same.
Set this in a warm place and leave undisturbed for about six to eight hours.
The coconut yoghurt will set. Remove the chilli crowns and discard.
You might notice that the thicker yoghurt like substance is floating over some watery mass below. But do not worry. Stir the same and you have your yoghurt ready.
You may use, if you have on hand, some vegan yoghurt to set this and not use chilli crowns.
However, expect that this yoghurt does not set as thick as dairy yoghurt; nor it has the rich creamy flavour of the cashew/ almond yoghurt. You might sense a slight tinge of coconut oil also, if your coconut has been very mature. But this blends well while cooking and adds to the flavours. You will be surprised that this has a nice slightly sweet taste while it also has enough tang that makes it suitable to use in such dishes.
I have used it in aviyal the following day and carried for a potluck. My guests did not find it different, until being told that it was vegan.

Use 1/2 cup of this yoghurt for the moarkuzhambu.

Method for the moarkuzhambu:
Cut the vegetables that you are using in the kuzhambu.
Take the vegetable and turmeric powder in a pan with water and cook the same.
Meanwhile prepare the paste as listed in the grinding.
Add about 100 ml water, asafoetida powder and salt to the paste.
When the vegetable has become tender, add the above and cook on a medium flame until the mixture thickens. Stir off and on to avoid forming lumps.

When the mixture has cooked well with all the raw tastes subsiding, add the coconut yoghurt.
Reduce the flame a bit and allow this to come to a boil. Reduce the heat to the lowest, simmer just for a few seconds and switch the stove off. Over heating will curdle the coconut milk.
Heat the oil for tempering in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Once they crackle, toss the curry leaves in the same and add this to the kuzhambu.
If you have fresh coriander leaves, wash them and add chopped leaves to the above.

We did not detect that it was a non-dairy kuzhambu at all. It was just as good as the usual yoghurt based recipe. In fact I had an unexpected guest who found it hard to believe. That success gave me confidence to prepare aviayal with the coconut yoghurt for about a dozen others. Needless to say that was largely welcome too!

Added to the vegan cooking, that day as I had completed one reading of the Sundara Kandam, I prepared a no milk badam kheer (recipe is my next post) and urad dhal vadas for the evening.
A night's dinner with neer dosa and thakkali-vengayam chutney made a whole day of keeping off non-vegan products.

Harini is hosting a giveaway through the 12th of November. She had set this challenge and I wanted to join in. Thus this post came by and a thoroughly intriguing day long vegan meal. There is an interesting guest post by Preethi and Srinivas of Krya -creating vegan awareness in Tongue Tickers. Please have a look and I am sure you will also want to try the challenge, like I did.


  1. Coconut milk curd is something totally new to me, thanks for the recipe, I really love vegan-ism though I have not taken any step to try to be a vegan.

  2. My younger co-sister is a vegan and i alwyas think how come it is possible for her to skip a hot cup of filter kapi

  3. That's such a novel idea..Must try this coconut milk curd sometime

  4. Wow, that was very innovative and interesting too. Unheard of coconut milk curd, to give a try soon.Lovely clicks accompanied :):)

  5. Kudos to you and your husband, Lata, for trying out the challenge! I knew you to be always very innovative from your previous recipes but I love that your husband was such a great sport too! The moarless morkozhombhu certainly looks delicious! I too like the tang of coconut milk curd. It is great for South Indian curd based dishes.:) So glad you took part in the Krya One day Vegan Challenge!

  6. Coconut milk curd thats totally innovative and fabulous..Moar kuzhambu looks inviting..

  7. something new and innovative and very delicious this moar kuzhambu is very tempting and forcing me to try it out.
    indu srinivasan

  8. I had no idea we could use coconut milk and set that like yogurt. I think forgoing dairy is what makes it hard to going vegan - so this is great akka... I think uncle is right.. several south indian recipes are inherently vegan. I see you used 2 of his favorites.. poori kizhangu and neer dosai to get him to agree to a no moar kuzhambu lunch :)

  9. Loved this post; bookmarked. Coconut Milk yougurt is new for me.

  10. Oh-my! Soooo new & awesome!! If you have the time, please go through the rules & link it to my Healthy Lunch event. Thanks! :)
    Kavi | Edible Entertainment
    Ongoing event: Healthy Lunch Challenge

  11. Love the idea ! The no-moar kozhambu looks fabulous, will surely try this:-)

  12. That's something totally new to me..Thanks for sharing this..Great that ,for a day you had vegan diet. I don't think that family would do this :-)

  13. Latha,

    more kuzhambu color romba super a erukku. I am going to try it. Thanks for Sharing the recipes.

    Thanks a lot.


  14. Hello... Here for the first time... liked your recipes a lot.. following you... if you find time please visit my blog..

  15. Never seen this before, looks really delicious!

  16. I was so impressed after reading this post Lata - you've taken so much effort to go vegan for a day in the spirit Harini and I had intended when we set up this challenge.

    Thank you for the effort, the absolutely delicious recipes, and for helping spread awareness about veganism.

  17. Hello Lataji,

    Congrats to you for winning the vegan challenge. I'm so happy that you liked my amateur besan ka ladoos :)) I've been following your blog since quite sometime and have been always amazed at your talent for being so innovative and passionate about food. You have a really lovely blog.


Welcome and thank you for taking time to drop by.
I appreciate your valuable comments and tips.
I sincerely hope to improve with them.
Hope we shall interact often.
Thanks once again,
Lata Raja.