Mor Kuzhambu is a popular dish in Kumbakonam and has a special place on my menu for the right reasons. Firstly, my husband likes it a lot and secondly it is simple and healthy. I do not use a lot of tamarind in my cooking and this kuzhambu does not need any so it does not give us the acidic effects of tamarind. Also it is quick to make and again helps me get atleast one portion of everyday vegetables. Typically in Kumbakonam, paruppu usili (dal crumble) is done to go with this dish. It is my guess that as Mor kuzhambu does not need much dal like other sambar, the dal in the usili will cater to daily dal intake in a balanced diet. There are two ways in which I make this recipe depending on availability of time.
I usually add some vegetable to this as a ‘than’ and my favourite is vendakkai vathal (spiced dried okra) but this time it was sundakkai (turkey berry). One can use anything like cooked fresh okra, boiled carrots, pumpkin, any squash, cooked egg plant or aubergine. My mom advises me to cook the eggplant in dilute tamarind water.
1.5 table spoon toor dal (pigeon peas)
1 teaspoon dhania (coriander seeds)
1 teaspoon jeera (cumin seeds)
2 green chillies
1 sprig Curry leaves (optional)
Few coriander leaves (optional)
1 cup Yogurt/curd
1 teaspoon cooking oil
Few Sundakkai (you can use anything else like I said before)
I wash the toor dal and green chillies and soak together for atleast half an hour. In a kadai or pan, dry roast dhania and jeera separately until a nice aroma comes. Combine the dal, chillies, dhania and jeera and grind to paste. In a deep dish, add the yogurt and about 1 cup water to make it a bit runny. Do remember that the curd will become runny when heated so do not add too much water initially. Add some turmeric powder, asafoetida and the ground paste and mix. Cook this on low flame upto boil. Season as required. For the tempering, take oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds, once it splutters, add curry leaves and sundakkai. Once the sundakkai turns brown, add to the yogurt. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves.
Depending on your taste, you can add fenugreek seeds for tempering. If using other vegetables, cook them separately and add to cooked yogurt. You can dilute with water after cooking the yogurt to achieve better consistency. Total quantity of water will depend on the yogurt/curd used. Most people also grind some grated coconut in the paste but I try to avoid coconut. Sometimes, I add about a teaspoon of coconut cream just before the yogurt boils. Typically, dishes containing coconut should not be cooked on high flame and not more than one boil allowed as overcooking will make the dish watery.This is my mom’s method and my grandmother does it slightly differently. She soaks the dhania and jeera along with the dal and chillies and grinds to a paste and rest of the procedure is same. This is more like my shortcut and both work well. This can easily serve as a sauce for rice in a western diet and good news is all ingredients are available in stores like Tesco.