Sra's event Grindless gravies got me thinking so much this week that I decided I had to send an entry being the biggest fan of no fuss meals and all. I realised that I use the "mixie" more than I thought I did. All curries that went with chapati - kurmas, makhnis (I guess you could make one with tomato puree and onions chopped very fine), and even chole these days involved some level of grinding. I think having the blender on the countertop (as opposed to in a cabinet having to get it out everytime I needed it) has increased the amount of grinding I do. I guess that proves that the more accessible any gadget is the more dependent on it we get. Then I thought I found my grindless dish. Sambar. I almost started typing and then i see... no lentils. hmm.. now sambar isnt really a dal, but it probably still wont qualify. I then gave up.
Today was one of those days when the fridge is full yet there is nothing to cook. No eggs, no vegetables. Went down to the kirana store down the street and all they had was dondakaya (kovakkai). Got those for a poriyal. I finally decided on making vatha kozhambu. Halfway into cooking I realised what a perfect grindless gravy it was.
Here's a simple vatha kozhambu:
Onions: 2 chopped
Shallots: a handful chopped (optional, but it gives a nice flavour. you could replace the regular onions with more shallots if you want too.)
Garlic: 1 (yes we use a lot of garlic, you could cut down if you want. the garlic soaks up and gets tangy... its not all that garlicky after that) or about 10-15 cloves
Seasoning: mustard, urad dal, some toor dal, manathakkali vathal, curry leaves
Vatha kozhambu podi - 3 tsp (can replace with combination of sambar powder and red chili powder)
Tamarind paste (I used paste this time because it was supposed to be an 'easy' version, but there was no compromise on the taste): 1 spoon
Jaggery: 1-2 spoons
Sesame oil: 1-2 tsp (optional)
Heat some oil, add the seasoning, and then add the shallots, garlic and onions and fry well. Then add vatha kozhambu podi and salt. Fry for a few seconds an then add about 2 cups of water. Bring it to a good boil and then add the tamarind paste. Now let this boil for about 15 min to thicken. (If you are in a hurry, add a spoon of rice powder to thicken but if you have the time do let it boil on a low flame for some time. It really helps) The kozhambu should get to a maple syrup consistency. Now add some powdered jaggery and mix. The jaggery should be just enough to make it tangy but not sweet. Add the sesame oil, mix and you're done.Serve with white rice. I especially like this with fried vathal (vadams).