Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Heirloom recipes

When Jai and Bee of the famed Jugalbandi announced Heirloom as this month's theme for monthly mingle, I was excited. Well not because we have recipes that have been passed down generations in our family but because we have a tradition that involves food and that is close to all our hearts. On the days when it rained in Chennai (that used be one of the many excuses), my ma or grandma would make some lovely வெங்காய வேத்தகுழம்பு and some spicy உறுலைகிழங்கு கறி (Onion vetthakuzhambu with spicy dry potato curry). The kuzhambu would then be mixed with rice and heavenly smelling நல்லெண்ணை (Sesame oil) in a big bowl. We would gather around the bowl (did not use a dining table back then) extending our hands with pleasure. My grandma (or ma) would keep the small ball of rice in our palms and top it with some of the spicy curry. I remember how hard it was to make my sister and I eat any food (we were really poor eaters) but this trick of feeding us worked every time! What is interesting is that my mom also remembers her chithi (wife of her father's brother) doing the same thing (my patti claims that while this was all she knew to cook, she did make it incredibly well and her food were always timely!).

The recipe is quite simple, you cannot go terribly wrong with it.

1 onion, sliced
1 1/2 tsp sambar powder
1 lemon-sized tamarind ball, soaked in hot water and the pulp extracted

1 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 to 1 tsp Methi seeds
1 tbsp Chana dal
1 - 2tbsp Rice flour, as a thickening agent, dissolved in about 2-3tbsp of water

Heat the oil, add the seasonings. Once it splatters, add the onions and saute it.
Add sambar powder and saute till the raw smell is gone
Add the tamarind water and cook for about 10 min
Add the rice flour mixture and cook for about 5min or until the kuzhambu is thick

See I told you, it was easy and yes it is what I call comfort food!

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  1. Wat a delicious dish,just love simple and delicious kara kuzhambu..

  2. Me too, I love this dish! Thanks...

  3. nallennai elevates food to a whole new level. it's my oil of choice. thanks for a beautiful post and recipe.

  4. a lovely memory and great dish! thanks for the entry!

  5. Thank you ladies, I love your blogs and love the monthly mingle event Meeta!

  6. I love your picture - it is such a good representation of heirloom food in general being passed on, literally, from generation to generation. I also love the story that went with it!

  7. Wow,you have made me nostalgic! A wonderful post! I too love vathakuzhambu with nallennai,till now we have with nallenai :)

  8. OMG! Your description just made my mouth water! I first tasted kara kuzhambu after I was married and went to my new tamil household :)
    My MIL is a lovely cook and makes some yummy tamil recipes.