Vethakozhambu or Vathalkozhambu is a spicy gravy prepared in tamil iyer homes. 'Vathal' means sun dried vegetable or berries. Vathals made from Manathakkali/ marthangalikkai (Black nightshade), Kothavarangai(Cluster beans) etc or fresh vegetables like onion, tomato etc can be used for making this. Vathalkozhambu is a wonderfull combination of tangy, spicy and also sweet taste. The tanginess comes from the tamarind which is added in slighlty larger amount. It tastes very good with 'Urulakkazhangu Podimas' (recipe coming soon).
During summer holidays, in the afternoon we cousins would gather in a circle around our patiyamma (grandma). She would place a small quantity of curd rice on our hands and pour a spoofull of vathalkozhambu over it. By the time she moves to the next eager hand, we would be ready for our turn again. Hmm... lovely days.
An easier version of vathakozhambu is prepared by the Palakkad iyers using chundakkai or turkey berry, but the recipe is slightly different.
Traditionaly the spices are fried and powdered freshly before making the kozhambu but to make life easier, the powder can be in large quantities and stored in a air tight container. I normally prepare this fresh every time I am making the vathalkozhambu as it does not take much time to prepare this powder. Also the freshly ground powder is tastier.
In this recipe, I am using onion (vengayam). The recipe is same for other vathals as well.
Here is the recipe.
Ingredients for vathakozhambu powder:
Red chilli - 2-3
Coriander seeds - 11/2 tbsp
Chana dal - 3/4 tbsp
White gram - 1 tsp
Fenugreek/Methi seeds - 1 tsp
Pepper - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 4-5
Oil (Preferably gingely) - 1 tsp
Heat the gingely (or any other oil) in a pan. Fry the ingredients separately. Grind them together to a fine powder.
Note: With the measurements given above vathalkozhambu for 4 people can be made. It can be increased proportionally if you plan to store for long term usage.
Ingredients for vathakozhambu:
Onion chopped - 2 medium sized
Red chilli - 2
Coriander seeds - 1 tsp
Chana dal - 1 tsp
Mustard - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - 5-6
Fenugreek/Methi seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Tamarind - 1 lemon sized
Jaggery - small piece (if you like sweet then you can add more)
Gingely oil - 1/4 cup
Rice powder - 1-2 tsp
Soak tamarind in water and squeeze it. Filter and keep the water.
Heat oil in a pan. Add red chilli, coriander seeds, chana dal.
When the dal turns red add mustard. When mustard splutters add cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and saute till they turn red.
Care should be taken not to burn them as fenugreek burns quiclky.
Add the curry leaves and fry till you get the aroma and then add onions and saute till they turn golden colored.
Now add the tamatind pulp and little turmeric and let it boil till it reduces to half its quantity.
Then add salt and jaggery and stir.
Add vathakuzhambu powderand boil well till raw smell goes.
Keep it in medium flame till it becomes thick in consistency.
If it becomes too watery, mix 1 or 2 tspns of rice flour in little water, add this to vathakuzhambu and allow it to boil till you get the desired consistency.
Dont add too much rice powder and this will make the kozhambu too thick once it cools.
Note: In this recipe I have not used asafoetida as normally when onion is used we do not use asafoetida. But if you are using any other items instead to make the kozhambu, then add 1/2 tsp asafoetida along with the vathal when it boils.
Preparation time: About 30min
Serves: 4 people