I have this friend who is a very good cook. She is a foodie herself and I love all her traditional Indian recipes. I had this arachuvitta vathal kuzhambu ( spicy tamarind stew with small onions and black night shade) once at her place and fell in love with it. It was spicy, tangy and perfect. For someone who loves spicy food and vathal kuzhambu being a favorite I wanted to make it at home. So I asked her and she sent me the recipe. But the next time I wanted to try it, I couldn’t find the recipe and the lazy me, called her again and she obliged by giving me the recipe. So this has been happening every time I make this recipe and even though I have made this lot of times I cant seem to remember the exact ingredients. So I end up calling her and she gives me an earful and gives me the recipe 🙂 Today was one such day and I knew she would go nuts if I asked her again and tried to do it myself. ( I think her recipe is jinxed. There cant be any other explanation for why I cant remember :D) But the sambar powder I had is pretty spicy by itself so I omitted some ingredients that she usually grinds ( like extra red chilly, pepper and urad dal because we were short of urad) and made this recipe my way and it tasted delicious too.. I decided I have to have a record of this so that I do not look for it later. So here it is, my version of Sukirti’s arachuvitta vathal kuzhambu. One of these days, I am going to share her original recipe with you. Even better, If I could get her to write for you guys herself 🙂 But until then, here’s mine –
- 1 small lemon size tamarind soaked in hot water (or) 11/2 tbsp tamarind paste
- 11/2 tbsp sambar powder or vathal kuzhambu powder
- 8 to 10 small pearl onions
- 1 tbsp manathakkali (black night shade in English / makoy in Hindi) – can avoid it if you don’t have it
- 11/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds or roasted fenugreek powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp jaggery (or more depending on the sourness of your tamarind)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 2 pinches asafoetida
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- salt to taste
- water as needed
- 1 garlic
- 10 to 15 curry leaves
- 11/2 tsp channa dal
- 4 to 5 small pearl onions
Add little sesame oil to a pan and when hot, add the ingredients mentioned to grind (except curry leaves) and saute until the onions and garlic turn color slightly.
Grind them with the curry leaves and water as necessary to a smooth paste. Set it aside.
Meanwhile extract 31/2 cups of tamarind water from the soaked tamarind. Or use tamarind paste to make tamarind water. set it aside.
Now add the remaining sesame oil to a pan and heat it up. When hot, add the mustard seeds, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, turmeric powder and small onions. Saute for couple of minutes until the onions start turning golden. Now add the manathakkali and saute for few seconds taking care not to burn them. The berry has to fry in that oil and they will crisp up.
Now add the sambar powder, some salt and tamarind water to the onion mixture and let it boil in a medium high flame for around 8 to 10 minutes. Add the jaggery, adjust the salt and add the ground mixture and reduce the flame and let it cook for another 7 to 8 minutes (Or more depending on how much your gravy has thickened). Your kuzhambu should start thickening by now and you will see oil floating in the sides.
Taste the kuzhambu and adjust salt/ jaggery as needed.
Serve with rice, potato fry and papad for a delicious meal.
To make this in instant pot :
Follow the same procedure and do everything in saute mode. Adjust the saute mode as necessary – High initially and change it to normal or low saute after adding the ground mixture. No stirring around needed. you can let it cook and reduce.
If the gravy is thick, add more water to dilute it. If thin, cook it in low flame for some more time. It should not be very thick though.
If you cannot find manathakkali, you can make this any other vathal or with just small onions and some garlic.
Dont be afraid to add more jaggery if needed. You will have to balance the tanginess with jaggery. That is what makes vathal kuzhambu so delicious!