When Jai and Bee of the famed Jugalbandi announced Heirloom as this month’s theme for monthly mingle, I was excited. Well not because we have recipes that have been passed down generations in our family but because we have a tradition that involves food and that is close to all our hearts. On the days when it rained in Chennai (that used be one of the many excuses), my ma or grandma would make some lovely வெங்காய வேத்தகுழம்பு and some spicy உறுலைகிழங்கு கறி (Onion vetthakuzhambu with spicy dry potato curry). The kuzhambu would then be mixed with rice and heavenly smelling நல்லெண்ணை (Sesame oil) in a big bowl. We would gather around the bowl (did not use a dining table back then) extending our hands with pleasure. My grandma (or ma) would keep the small ball of rice in our palms and top it with some of the spicy curry. I remember how hard it was to make my sister and I eat any food (we were really poor eaters) but this trick of feeding us worked every time! What is interesting is that my mom also remembers her chithi (wife of her father’s brother) doing the same thing (my patti claims that while this was all she knew to cook, she did make it incredibly well and her food were always timely!).
The recipe is quite simple, you cannot go terribly wrong with it.
1 onion, sliced
1 1/2 tsp sambar powder
1 lemon-sized tamarind ball, soaked in hot water and the pulp extracted
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1/2 to 1 tsp Methi seeds
1 tbsp Chana dal
1 – 2tbsp Rice flour, as a thickening agent, dissolved in about 2-3tbsp of water
Heat the oil, add the seasonings. Once it splatters, add the onions and saute it.
Add sambar powder and saute till the raw smell is gone
Add the tamarind water and cook for about 10 min
Add the rice flour mixture and cook for about 5min or until the kuzhambu is thick
See I told you, it was easy and yes it is what I call comfort food!