Vetha Kuzhambu is a hidden South Indian culinary gem, which resembles its more popular cousin, Sambhar. It tastes divine with a dollop of ghee, some piping hot rice and papad!
Vetha Kuzhambu is pretty similar looking to sambhar but there is no lentils added to it. It gets its taste from the spice mix and the tamarind!
When I moved to Bangalore about 9 years ago, all I knew about south Indian food was idly, dosa, vada and uthapam along with sambhar and coconut chutney, of course! To be honest, I could have happily spent my life eating those 🙂 I have always had a thing for south Indian food.
But when I moved to Bangalore, let me admit it, I was disappointed the food was not what I thought it would be… That is because in the north we are more used to eating the Chennai style sambhar, rather than the slightly sweet version that is served in Karnataka… and only when I moved here, is when I realized that idly, dosa and sambhar is not the only thing they eat down south… (see I am admitting now don’t throw brick bats my way)
I realised that there is a lot more to South Indian food than just idlis and doas, and each dish is so delicious! … I slowly started to fall in love with akki roti, the hot and pipping rasam, the different types of rice and the good old Andhra meal served in Bangalore with my super favorite Gongura pickle!
And then, as luck would have had it, I married a South Indian who is half Tamil and half Telugu. I was exposed to many new cuisines now, though at home, my MIL usually prepares the routine paruppu and dry vegetable. I have slowly fallen in love with Tamil food… love the spices they use, love the taste that comes out and love the way the house smells when you are cooking!
Last month, I went to a friends house who had made Vetha Kuzhambu and I loved it… though I was sweating left right and center because of the spiciness of the gravy, it didn’t prevent me from eating more than I should have. There it was decided that I have to make this at home. I came home and asked my MIL who does know about it, but alas, she said she doesn’t know too much about Tamil food and this one she certainly doesn’t know how to make. It just when I was thinking of calling my friend and asking her for the recipe, Nags did a post mentioning one of the blogs she loved and what do I see in that post??? The recipe of Onions Vetha Kuzhambu ofcourse 😀
I was almost jumping in joy, trust me, and the pictures she had posted looked so droolworthy! But I was so scared in my heart to try it, because hubby is almost a police when it comes to Tamil food… he wants it perfect the way it should be…
I had to make my rasam 10 times till he said yes thats a good rasam 😉 but none the less, I had to try it and damn it was yummy! So here I am presenting to you – Onions Vetha Kuzhambu made in my kitchen!
And oh before that, some South Indian recipes, I have come to love in the past few years!
Onions Vetha Kuzhambu
- 300 gms onions peeled baby about
- cloves Garlic about
- Tamarind a medium sized ball
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- Curry leaves about
- 1/2 tsp ghee
- 1 tsp rice flour
- to taste salt
For the spice powder
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1/2 tsp Methi seeds
- 1 tbsp Coriander seeds
- 3 you cans Chillies Dry Red I used reduce to want it less spicy one or two
- Dry roast all the ingredients for the spice powder till they are just about brown and leave a lovely aroma, cool them a little and grind to get coarse powder.
- Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and add mustard seeds to it, when they start spluttering add curry leaves and garlic to it. Fry for about a minute or so till the garlic starts turning brown.
- Add the peeled onions (the recipe source has a tip for peeling onions but me I bought the ready peeled ones 😉 ) Mix well and add salt to it. Fry for one minute and than add the sambhar powder to the same.
- Add one more 1 tbsp of oil to it and let it fry for sometime. According to Mriganayani 'Vetha Kuzhambu was derived from the word Varutha Kuzhambu - which means the veggies used in the kuzhambu was fried in the sambar powder first".Interesting.
- Add the ghee at this stage, she mentioned in her post that one would smell heaven here and I think she was wrong... heaven is an understatement here. I just can't begin to describe how nice it smelled... yummmm.
- When you get over the smell (though take care not to burn it by smelling for too long) add the tamarind pulp and some more water to it. Let it boil for about 10 minutes till the raw smell disappears.
- And after this be prepared for your house to be taken over by a waft or aroma that just can't described, it can only be felt. Please add the spice powder to the curry, relish the smell for about 2 minutes till you start on the next step 🙂
- At this stage make a paste of 1 tsp of rice flour and some water and add to the curry to thicken it up. Boil for about 5 minutes so that rice flour gets cooked.
- Serve hot with hot steaming rice, my mil tells me that roasted papad is a great combination for this.. next time I will make that too.