Tuesday 22 July 2014

Pepper Kuzhambu (மிளகு குழம்பு)

Pepper, also known as the ‘king of spices’ is rich in minerals and vitamins, and has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. In native medicine, pepper is used to treat indigestion and flatulence. 

Traditionally, pepper kuzhambu (மிளகு குழம்பு) is made on the day after feasting such as festival days, to help ease the digestion. Curry leaves are added to enhance the taste and nutritive value of the preparation. Pepper kuzhambu has the tickling taste and subtle flavor of pepper. You can prepare this kuzhambu without curry leaves also. If you simmer the kuzhambu long enough to condense it into a thick paste, you can store it for a few days, as it doesn’t get spoiled quickly.

Ingredients: (Serves four)
Tamarind – the size of a large gooseberry (காட்டு நெல்லிக்காய்)
Jaggery – half teaspoon
Salt – to taste
Cooking oil – 2 tablespoons
Vathal – 1-2 tablespoons or as desired*
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Rice flour – 1 teaspoon, if required

To be ground into a paste:
Red chillies – 2-3 no (adjust to taste)
Pepper – 1 teaspoon
Toor dhal – 1 tablespoon
Curry leaves – 1 teacup or 100ml measure (கறிவேப்பிலை)
Black night shade (மணத்தக்காளி) vathal
Turkey berry (சுண்டக்காய்)

*Vathal is Sun dried salted vegetable or berry. Black night shade (மணத்தக்காளி) and/or Turkey berry (சுண்டக்காய்) are often used to make pepper kuzhambu.

Method: Soak tamarind in warm water for 15-20 minutes. Later squeeze tamarind and extract the juice. Wash curry leaves well, drain and keep aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a kadai, add red chillies and when they turn darker in color, add pepper and toor dhal. Sauté till the dhal turns golden brown in color. Now add curry leaves and sauté for 30 seconds. Transfer the fried items to a bowl and allow them to cool. Grind the fried ingredients with little water into a fine paste using a mixer-grinder. Add the ground paste, salt and jaggery to the tamarind juice. Mix well and keep aside. 
Pepper Kuzhambu (மிளகு குழம்பு)
Heat the remaining oil in the kadai, add the vathal pieces and sauté till they turn darker in color. Add mustard seeds, and when they start to sputter, add tamarind juice mixture and bring it to boil. If the kuzhambu is watery, mix rice flour in little water and add the mixture to the boiling kuzhambu, stirring continuously. Allow the kuzhambu to boil and then simmer for 2 minutes. Switch of the fire and serve hot with rice and poriyal or appalam. Alternatively, you may simmer the kuzhambu to condense it into a thick paste, which can be stored for a few days.

Note: You can make pepper kuzhambu with vegetables like ladies finger or brinjal. Vathal can also be used along with vegetables. Cut the vegetables into 1” long pieces. After the mustard seeds start to sputter, add the cut vegetables and required salt. Cover and cook on low flame till the vegetables are done. Then proceed with the recipe as given above. 

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