Sambar! That one word is enough to have us running to the table. Today’s sambar is made with Snake Beans, also called Long Beans. It has a base of onion, carrot and potato. I have broken one of Meenakshi Ammal’s cardinal rules – only one vegetable per sambar – but I’ve kept the onion, carrot and potato to small amounts. I don’t think she will mind.
How we love drumsticks, those funny long thin pod-like vegetables that grow on spindly trees in South India. Whenever we see them in the shops we bring them home to freeze for later dishes. Rasam, Sambar and Kuzhambu are three of our favourite ways to use them.
Today’s recipe with drumsticks is a kuzhambu that includes fenugreek. Actually the recipe can be made without any vegetables (we have a version here), but we like the addition of drumsticks or eggplant. You can also use okra, small onions or shallots, or Indian broad beans.
This dish gets its name from the fact that it is prepared with 7 vegetables. It is a South Indian dish, actually a Tamil dish, which is often prepared on Thiruvathirai Day as a side dish for Thiruvadhira Kali (a sweet mung dal and rice dish made on this festival day). Although its name means seven vegetables, often nine, eleven, or even more are used! It is a blend of sweet, salty, tangy and spicy flavours that meld so well together, and is a perfect clean-out-the-fridge dish.
But you can also make this dish at any time – don’t keep it only for a festival dish. The recipe is one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from her cook books Cook and See. One of our very special projects in the kitchen is to cook through these books, as they are very traditional Tamil recipes.You can find all of Ammal’s dishes that we have made here. Most of them are from Vol 1 so far.
I love this dish cooked just with potatoes. It is divine. Today I made it with Colacasia, Chenai Yam, Cluster Beans, Pumpkin, Potato, Ridged Gourd, and Drumstick. Delicious!
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
Amaranth is loved across India (and features strongly in a range of Asian cuisines). All parts are used – the seeds are well known outside India, and at the moment they are fashionable and quite popular. But in India the leaves are also used, and the young, tender stems as well.
Amaranth leaves are available in Asian shops so keep an eye out for them. There are different varieties – some are green, but others often contain a tinge of red. Beautiful indeed.
Meenakshi Ammal in her cookbooks Cook and See mentions Amaranth leaves and stems a lot in her sections on sambars and kuzhambu recipes. This recipe she calls (in English) Greens Soup with Tamarind and it sits in the chapter of Poritha Kuzhambu. It is an unusual name given that soups are not traditionally part of the Tamil cuisine (although they are popular more recently). I wonder if the name in Tamil is quite different. However, she certainly got the colour correct!
This recipe is a cousin to this one of the same name. While that one uses Pitlay spices but not a tadka, this recipe uses sambar powder with a tadka. Both are pretty special and you should try them both. This one is closer to this Poritha Koottu with Tamarind.
Similar recipes include Amaranth Leaf Masiyal, Poritha Kuzhambu dishes and Poritha Kootu recipes. Try Plain Masiyal of Amaranth Leaves, Moar Kuzhambu, Lentil Balls in a Spicy Gravy, and Vatral Kuzhambu.
But why not browse all of our Kuzhambu recipes, and all Indian Soups? Or explore our Amaranth dishes, and our complete Indian Recipe Collection. Or take some time to check out our easy Early Autumn dishes.
Okra is so very healthy for us, unbelievably so, so it is said that Okra Sambar is an instant pick-me-up. This sambar recipe is easily and quickly made – even more so if you have some cooked toor dal in the freezer (HINT). It will be all made in 12 – 15 minutes. Surely that is enough to pick you up!
I love this simple Drumstick Sambar recipe. We have friends who grow drumsticks, so there are always some in the freezer. We also grow our own limes now, so this dish is quite precious – using fresh and home grown produce.
This recipe is so very simple, using a minimum of spices. I hope you enjoy.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
This Poritha Kuzhambu is made using the third of 3 methods outlined by Meenakshi Ammal in her 4 volumes of Cook and See. It sautees the spices before grinding them to a paste and adding to the dish. This deepens the flavours and adds a toasted overtone.
Poritha Kuzhambus are very delicious. These recipes are without tamarind and with coconut added for a beautiful sense of the tropical South of India. Beautiful indeed.
You might like to find out more about Kuzhambu. We suggest that you read The Difference Between Sambar, Kuzhambu and Kootu. Also have a look at the other methods of making Poritha Kuzhambu. The differences are minor, but they do change the flavours significantly. The first uses Sambar Powder, and the second replaces that with a few individual spices.
Similar recipes include Amaranth Leaves Coconut Kootu, Puli Keerai, Plain Masiyal of Amaranth Leaves, Beetroot Vathakuzhambu, Green Chilli Kuzhambu, Fenugreek Kuzhambu, Green Amaranth Soup with Tamarind, and Race Kuzhambu.
Are you looking for the recipes of Meenakshi Ammal? They are here. She certainly is my guru of Tamil Brahmin cuisine.
I have been showering you with a range of Kootu recipes without tamarind, and they are glorious! But, occasionally, Kootu can include some tamarind for that lovely tangy taste. It is best to use Toor Dal, rather than Mung dal, when tamarind is used.
This recipe uses a ground masala with coconut, cumin and urad dal (black gram dal). Some households use black pepper instead of cumin. Poritha Kootu with Tamarind can be made with a medley of vegetables, rather than the single vegetable that is preferred for Poritha Kuzhambu. Another feature of this dish that you will notice, is that it includes legumes and/or beans as well as the dal.
Remember that this is a thicker dish than Poritha Kuzhambu, so cook the dal and vegetables in less water than you might otherwise.
This recipe is again one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from the first volume of Cook and See. Such a tangle it was, but I think that I have untangled it well. I do hope that you enjoy. We have used Drumstick Leaves (Moringa) as our vegetable.
Why not browse through Meenakshi Ammal’s recipes? They are here.
Turkey Berry is also called Small Thai Eggplant, Wild Eggplant, Pea Eggplant and Sundakkai (in Tamil). It is a slightly bitter, tiny pea-sized vegetable very common in Thailand and in parts of India. You can add Turkey Berries to your list of slightly bitter foods that have so many health-giving properties – fenugreek, bitter gourd, pomelo, radicchio, Belgian endive, Escarole and other chicory greens. But don’t be afraid, they have only a slight bitter backnote and it is delightful.
The Turkey Berries first need to be picked from their stems. This is the sort of job that is similar to shelling peas or peeling broad beans – best done while watching your favourite show on TV or sitting outside in the sunshine. Then rinse them well in cold water.
This dish, Puli Kuzhambu, is a quick Kuzhambu, a gravy-style dish that is generally eaten with rice. It has such a wonderful flavour! Deep and rich. In this recipe the Turkey Berries are stir fried with spices before being added to a tamarind gravy. You will love it.
It has been a great year for green tomatoes – both our Asian grocery and our local Middle Eastern green grocer have stocked them at various times. So we have indulged our love of them with a range of recipes.
Some of our most loved green tomato recipes are from India, and today’s dish is a gorgeous sambar from Tamil Nadu. As green tomatoes have a sourness to them, the amount of tamarind is reduced for this sambar.