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Plain Hot Vendhaya Kuzhambu (Spicy Fenugreek Seeds Stew) (Methi Kuzhambu)

December 14, 2014

This is my favourite one especially in the months of Nov-Feb when weather improves and monsoon makes citylife worthwhile. Vendhayam or Methi is a cooling agent. Normally in cold weather we avoid cool stuff so end up loading more of hot stuff. But Vendhaya Kozhambu – a spicy stew we make with methi or vendhayam (in tamil) or fenugreek seeds is hot and cold at the same. We also add a dash of coconut milk to the dish so it cools it down even further. But the garlic and chili powder with tamarind offset the over-cooling effects. So this way, even in cold weather, you need not have to stay off the beneficial effects of food with cooling effect on your body.

In summer the same Vendhaya Kuzhambu cools you down – so you need not have to feel guilty about having it hot hot.

This is a rich and yummy stew with the full flavour of Fenugreek seeds in it that we don’t grind to paste.

Ingredients:

Tamarind  or Imli –  small lemon size. Soak in warm water for min 30 min and squeeze out the juice.

Fenugreek seeds or Vendhayam or Methi seeds – 1 tbs – rinse thoroughly and immerse in warm water for atleast 2 hours.

Coconut – 1/2 scraped – Grind to paste with water and distill to get coconut milk 1 cup.

Tomato -3 big size

Onion- Shallots – 200 gms

Garlic – a few flakes – crushed

Note: No curry leaves. This is one kozhambu where we don’t want the curry leaves to hijack the Methi/Vendhayam/Fenugreek seeds flavour!!

Red chili powder -4 tsp

Dhania/Coriander seeds powder – 4tsp

(or instead of the above 2, use straight away Madras Sambhar powder – 4 -5 tsp)

Salt

Water

For tempering: Mustard seeds and Methi seeds – half a tsp each

Oil – 1 tbsp

 

Method:

1. As stated under ‘Ingredients’ prepare the methi seeds by soaking, extract tamarind (imli) juice on soaking in water and extract 1 cup of coconut milk and keep aside.

* Rinse methi lightly before soaking in warm water. Soak for minimum 30 min.

* Coconut milk (extract) can be bought off store shelves. But best to get it fresh at home. Grate one half of a coconut and wet grind it in a blender with water. Distil to get a thick cup of rich coconut milk. Add more water if you want to get a diluted second, third extract.

2. Peel the shallots. For this if you soak the shallots (also called Madras onions) in water for sometime, the outer skin will come out easy.

3. Grate the tomatoes fine and crush the garlic.

4. Heat a shallow pan/kadai/wok and add 1 tbsp oil to it. When it is about to smoke, temper with mustard and dry methi seeds. When the seeds splutter add the shallots and saute to golden brown.

5. Distil the methi-soaked water. Do not throw away this water as this will contain dissolved nutrients. We can use this water in the kozhambu.

Add the soaked methi seeds to the shallots and saute on low flame.

6. Add the crushed garlic next and then the tomatoes. Keep stirring.

7. Add the tamarind (imli) extract, more water next and bring the kozhambu to a boil. You may use the methi-soaked water.

8. Just when the kozhambu is starting to boil, add the red chili/dhania (coriander) powders, salt and turmeric powder and stir well. In this kozhambu, I have used 4 tsp of Madras Sambhar powder instead.

9. Let the kozhambu simmer on low flame and wait until it reduces to a thick and desired consistency. Reduce the heat to prepare for coconut milk addition.

10. Finally add the coconut milk extract to the kozhambu and stir well and switch off the flame.

Note: the kozhambu should not keep boiling for long once you add the coconut milk otherwise it will curdle. Never boil anything on adding coconut milk for that matter. 1 or 2 minutes simmering on low flame must be enough to ward off the raw coconut smell.

Now we have the plain traditional Tamil Vendhaya Kozhambu (methi seeds kozhambu) (fenugreek seeds kozhambu) ready to serve. Serve it hot with rice or chappathi, anything. Shelf life upto 2 days if you refrigerate.

Because Methi is a cooling agent and so is coconut milk, this can be had in summers as well. The combination of coconut and tamarind is rare even in south Indian cuisine. So this kozhambu is popular for its curious twist in taste. In winters since we avoid direct cold stuff generally (like ice creams, cucumber for instance), this is an indirect way of maintaining a balanced diet (not out together neglecting the cooling agents). The hot kozhambu with crushed garlic is great in chilly weather.

 

 

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