Vatha kuzhambu

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Traditionally in India, the girls go to their maternal home for delivery. My husband wanted to be as involved as I was, so we decided to stay at our home in Chennai. My mom came over to help me with the baby and the plan was to bring in a lady to help with house hold chores in general. Unfortunately that lady didn’t turn up. Slowly, we found out that it became a little too much for my mother to manage everything. The baby would just bawl his lungs out all night and I needed her help for the first few days till I got the hang of it.

About three weeks after my son was born, amma suggested that we go back to Trivandrum where she knew she would get some domestic help. And off we went. Me and my new-born son with my amma.

And that was the first time I understood why girls go back home to have kids. I really could feel the difference. With mom and dad, you can just let go and be yourself. They are never going to judge you and definitely not when you are in the worst hormone ridden phase of your life. You can say that I was rather reluctant to come back after spending almost 4 months there ;-).

The best part of staying at home was I could catch up with my mother after years of staying away. That was the time I took out a pen & book and followed her around to write down all her recipes. There are so many more recipes I should have written down, but let’s just say I am just happy to have what I have.

With my in laws, I never got a chance to follow them around as I did with amma. So now that they are visiting us, I have started doing the same. This time, its with a camera so that I don’t miss anything. This would be the third in the series of my ‘follow and click’ series.

Read on for my MIL’s recipe for vatha kuzhambu and the pictorial.

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Pictorial:

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Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan. Add one teaspoon mustard seeds and half teaspoon fenugreek seeds. Let it splutter and let the fenugreek seeds turn brown.

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Add 5-6 curry leaves and 1 tablespoon vathral.

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Add four cups water. Kind of 3/4 to 1 cup per person.

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Add 1.5 teaspoon of tamarind paste. Again, this quantity needs to be adjusted based on how tangy the tamarind is.

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Add a good pinch of hing.

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The spiciness comes from sambar powder and pepper powder. So add 1 teaspoon of sambar powder. You can also roast and powder chana dal and toor dal (2 teaspoons each) along with 3-4 dry red chillies and use that powder instead of sambar powder.

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Followed by 1 teaspoon of pepper powder and salt. Let the kuzhambu boil for 5-10 minutes. Taste test and check the seasonings.

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To thicken the gravy, mix 2 tablespoon of atta (wheat flour) to 3/4 cup water until no lumps remain. Add this slurry to the kuzhambu and stir to avoid lumps forming. Let it boil for 3-4 minutes. Taste test, adjust seasonings and take off the heat. Serve with rice and a vegetable on the side.

Recipe source: My MIL

Serves : 4

Ingredients: 

  • 1 tablespoon oil, preferably sesame seedoil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoon vathal of your choice
  • 4 cups water
  • 1.5 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 1 teaspoon each sambar powder and ground pepper**
  • 2 tablespoon atta mixed with 3/4 cup water.
  • salt

**sambar powder can be substituted by roasted and powdered chana dal and toor dal (2 teaspoons each) along with 3-4 dry red chillies.

Method:

  1. Heat one tablespoon oil in a pan. Add one teaspoon mustard seeds and half teaspoon fenugreek seeds. Let it splutter and let the fenugreek seeds turn brown.
  2. Add 5-6 curry leaves and 1 tablespoon vathral.
  3. Add four cups water. Kind of 3/4 to 1 cup per person.
  4. Add 1.5 teaspoon of tamarind paste. Again, this quantity needs to be adjusted based on how tangy the tamarind is.  Add a good pinch of hing.
  5. The spiciness comes from sambar powder and pepper powder. So add 1 teaspoon of sambar powder. You can roast and powder chana dal and toor dal (2 teaspoons each) along with 3-4 dry red chillies and use that powder instead of sambar powder
  6. Add 1 teaspoon of pepper powder and salt. Let the kuzhambu boil for 5-10 minutes. Taste test and check the seasonings.
  7. To thicken the gravy, mix 2 tablespoon of atta (wheat flour) to 3/4 cup water until no lumps remain. Add this slurry to the kuzhambu and stir to avoid lumps forming. Let it boil for 3-4 minutes and take off the heat. Serve with rice and a vegetable on the side.

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