Thursday 9 October 2014

Thalatha Kuzhambu (தாளதக் குழம்பு)

Thalatha kuzhambu (தாளதக் குழம்பு) is a traditional Brahmin preparation and is usually made as an accompaniment to ven pongal (வெண் பொங்கல்). During ‘Harvest Festival’ (தைப் பொங்கல்), this kuzhambu is made with seven different country vegetables and hence, called ‘ezhukari kuzhambu’ (ஏழுகறிக் குழம்பு). Thalatha kuzhambu is also made as an accompaniment to ‘thiruvathirai kali’ (திருவாதிரை களி). However, you can make this kuzhambu with one or two vegetables alone. It has a unique taste owing to the different masala used for making this kuzhambu.

Ingredients: (Serves four)
Tamarind – the size of a large gooseberry (காட்டு நெல்லிக்காய்)
Vegetables – cut into large pieces, 2 teacups*
Jaggery – half teaspoon
Salt – to taste
Cooking oil – 1 tablespoon
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves - a few

To be ground into a paste:
Red chilies – 3-4 no (adjust to taste)
Toor dhal – 1 tablespoon
Urad dhal – 2 teaspoons
Raw rice – 2 teaspoons
Asafoetida – 2 generous pinches
Thil/sesame seeds (எள்) – 1 teaspoon
Coconut – grated, 2 tablespoons

*Ash gourd or yellow pumpkin is normally used for making thalatha kuzhambu. For festival preparation you may use ash gourd, yellow pumpkin, plantain, broad beans, brinjal/eggplant, sweet potato and snake gourd. Yam may also be used, if desired.

Thalatha Kuzhambu (தாளதக் குழம்பு) made with ash gourd
Method: Roast (without oil) toor dhal, urad dhal and rice in a kadai till they turn light brown in color. Transfer to a bowl. Roast thil separately till it starts crackling. Switch off the fire. Add to the other roasted ingredients. Now heat a teaspoon of oil in a kadai, add red chilies and fry till they turn darker in color. Add asafoetida and switch off the stove. Allow the fried and roasted ingredients to cool and later grind them with coconut into a fine paste.

Soak tamarind in warm water for 15-20 minutes. Later squeeze tamarind and extract the juice. Add the masala paste to the tamarind juice and mix well.
Thalatha Kuzhambu (தாளதக் குழம்பு) made with seven vegetables (ash gourd, yellow pumpkin, broad beans, eggplant, snake gourd, field bean and plantain) for harvest festival
Wash the vegetables; peel ash gourd, yellow pumpkin, plantain and sweet potato; and cut the vegetables into large pieces. Boil the vegetables with required salt and half tumbler (100ml) of water in a kadai. Cover and cook on low flame till the vegetables are done. Now add the tamarind juice mixture, salt and jaggery to the kadai. Bring it to boil, and then simmer for 2 minutes. 

Heat the remaining oil in a tadka pan or spice pan (தாளிக்கிற கரண்டி), add mustard seeds and when they start to sputter, switch off the fire. Add the seasonings to the kuzhambu and garnish with curry leaves. Serve hot with rice and poriyal or applam. 

Note: You may add half teacup of toor dhal to the kuzhambu, if desired. Pressure cook the dhal, mash it well, add it as a last step and then simmer for 2 minutes. Though it is not part of traditional recipe, I prefer to add the dhal as it increases the consistency and taste of the preparation.

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