Kathirikai kaarakuzhambu

Kaarakuzhambu is a thick spicy curry that is eaten with steamed rice. Coming from a village background, I have grown up seeing peasants and laborers consuming this almost everyday for supper. This is a preferred curry for mass cooking as it is simple, economical and quite filling. Even today, while I stand in the balcony or terrace, I see in the construction sites here and there someone cooking with small stoves making rice in pots and karakuzhambu in sattis, the aroma appetites me in no time. More than the taste of the dish itself, it is the love and gratitude I’ve seen these people eating it with after the whole day’s exhaustion, they celebrate the mere satisfaction of hunger for food; sometimes they stay far away from their families for work yet become family with people around. I really envy their attitude of living in the present.

Ingredients:

1. Brinjal – 5
2. Onion – 1
3. Tomato – 1
4. Garlic – 1/2 pod
5. Gingelly oil – 2 tbsp
6. Vengaya vadagam – 1/4 ball or 1 heap tbsp 
7. Curry powder – 2 tbsp
8. Tamarind – gooseberry size or 2 tbsp store bought pulp
9. Salt to taste
Method:

Step 1: Wash and chop brinjal, tomato, onion and peel the garlic cloves.
Step 2: If using tamarind, soak the tamarind in water and squeeze out pulp and keep aside.
Step 2: In a kadai heat the gingelly oil and add vengaya vadagam to it. 
Step 3: Once the spices splutters and browns well, add onion, garlic to saute until soft; then add tomato and finally the brinjal. Saute for 2 minutes.
Step 4: Add curry powder, salt and water and let it boil for 10 minutes in low flame.
Step 5: Add the tamarind pulp and stir to boil for 5 more minutes.

Step 6: Serve with hot steamed rice along with papad.

TIPS:
* Vengaya vadagam is a mixture of spices along with onion that are soaked in castor oil and then sun dried; it is said to have lot of medicinal properties in addition to the strong flavour it renders to the curry. 
* If vengaya vadagam is not available, you can splutter the spices like mustard, cumin seeds, fenugreek, asafoetida, red chilies, curry leaves and urad dal seperately before adding the vegetables.
* Kaarakuzhambu can be prepared with other vegetables like potato, ladies finger, radish, colocasia or drumstick also.

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Manathakkali keerai paal kootu

Akkama, my granny used to say that this particular green vegetable is so very soothing for stomach ulcers and mouth ulcers. She had prepared it every fortnight for us when we grew up.

Ingredients:

1.       Black nightshade leaves (Manathakkali keerai) – 1 bunch, cleaned and chopped
2.       Moong dal – ¼ cup
3.       Milk – ½ cup
4.       Rice flour – 1 tbsp
5.       Salt as per taste
6.       Sugar – ½ tsp
Tempering:
1.       Ghee – ½ tbsp.
2.       Pepper – ½ tsp crushed
3.       Red chili – 1 halved

Method:
Step 1: In a pan boil moong dal (It is better if you soak 15 minutes before cooking); when it is half done add green leaves to it and cover to cook.
Step 2: When it once done add milk, rice flour and stir for 2 minute until milk thickens
Step 3: Sprinkle salt, sugar, mix well and turn off heat.
Step 4: For tempering in a tadka pan, heat ghee add halved red chili, crushed pepper and empty it over the dish and serve hot with stead rice.

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Uppurundai

Uppurundai is another signature dish of my mother-in-law, I’ve never had it anywhere else and even after trials we did not succeed in making them as good as her’s. As a recipe it is plain and simple, it is just the knack we need to get. For those people who plan and execute all the wet grinder batches (for idlis, kanjeepuram idly, dosas, appams, etc) in one day of a week, this can be tried as another small batch for that evening’s snack or dinner. 
Serves:
Preparation Time: 5 min (Soaking time is 2 hours)
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients:

1.       Idly rice – 2 cups

2.       Salt as per taste

3.       Oil – 3 tbsp

4.       Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

5.       Urad dal – 1 tbsp

6.       Channa dal – 1 tbsp

7.       Curry leaves – 1 sprig

8.       Dry chilies – 3

9.       Asafoetida – 1 pinch

Method:

Step 1: Wash and soak the rice for 2 hours. Grind it smoothly with some water and mix required salt.

Step 2: In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil, sprinkle asafoetida, splutter mustard seeds, add urad & channa dals, thrown in curry leaves & broken chilies and add the rice batter into it.

Step 3: Stir continously until it becomes thick and gooey. Turn off heat and make lemon sized balls out of the mass while it is still hot.

Step 4: Steam the rice balls for 5 minutes and serve hot as is or with idly podi.

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Sola Adai

To my knowledge, sola adai is a recipe that I got from some blog while randomly browsing and I could not get that blog again. Solam or jowar is grown extensively in Coimbatore and Dindigal districts of tamil nadu and I founf this from a tamil blog, so I just assume it is originated here. Strange thing about sola adai is that, it is shaped like vada yet thinner that vadas and but is very crisp and crunchy until center. This is quite simple to make and is full of flavor and can be stored for a couple of days.

Ingredients:

1.       Jowar – 1 cup
2.       Onion chopped – 1 cup
3.       Green chilies – 2 finely chopped
4.       Coriander chopped – 1 tbsp 
5.       Rice flour – 2 tbsp
6.       Salt to taste
7.       Oil for deep frying

Method:
Step 1: Wash and soak the jowar overnight.
Step 2: Grind the soaked jowar in a mixer coarsely. Do not add water.
Step 3: Take the ground jowar , add salt, rice flour, chopped onion, green chilies, coriander and mix well.
Step 4: Heat oil in a deep kadai; and in parallel shape adais.
Step 5: Pat a small portion of the batter into thin 4” circles with a hole in the centre. Wipe hands with water in between to avoid the batter sticking to hands.
Step 6: Drop the adai in the hot oil and flip both sides to get it uniform golden brown colour. Repeat until the batter is finished. The adais should be thin, crisp and brown.
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Aavi Murukku

Aavi murukku is one of my mother in law’s specialties; I have not heard of it, seen it or tasted it before I got married. This recipe had spread from her to our family also now and we all like it very much. It is a steamed and seasoned snack or tiffin made with rice. She prepares a couple of more such tiffin items; however, aavi murukku is my favorite. These days, I have started doing this myself and it comes out decently well.

Ingredients:

1.       Idly rice – 2 cups
3.       Asafoetida – 2 pinches
4.       Salt as per taste
5.       Oil – 3 tbsp
6.       Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
7.       Urad dal – 1 tbsp
8.       Channa dal – 1 tbsp
9.       Dry chilies – 4
10.   Curry leaves – 1 sprig
11.   Onion – 1 finely chopped
12.   Garlic cloves peeled – 15
Method:

Step 1: Wash and soak the rice for 2 hours. Grind the rice finely with turmeric, 2 chilies, asafoetida with some water.
Step 2: Heat a heavy bottomed pan, pour the batter, add 1 tbsp of oil, add necessary salt and stir until it becomes thick. Turn off the stove.

 Step 3: Take a portion, roll with fist and fill the murruku kozhai. Squeeze onto a idly plate and steam for 5-10 minutes, repeat for the entire dough. Let it cool a bit and then break into small pieces, it’s easy.

Step 4: In a non-stick pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil, splutter mustard seeds, add urad and channa dals, broken chilies, curry leaves and sauté onion and garlic in that until golden brown. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over this.

                                            

Step 5: Now add the broken aavi murukku into this and mix well. Serve hot.

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