This is a thick jam-like gravy with a tamarind base, spiced with a mix of roasted powdered pepper and lentils. Perfect over a bed of hot steaming rice, with an accompaniment of vegetables (kootu) or curry.
This is one of the simplest curries, with minimum ingredients and comes together in literally 10 minutes, after prep. Pairs excellent with rotis. I love to just eat it like a soup. The mild tasting, water-laden lauki/doodhi/sorakai is satisfying in its rustic simplicity. Requires no onion, garlic or complicated masalas.
It is known as bottle gourd in English. Cooks very quickly.
This recipe is from our friend Gautam, who dabbles in gardening, cooking, baking, grilling, photography, and on the side, is a neurosurgeon! He grows a bunch of varieties of green chilies including some of the hottest varieties, and like any Indian worth his salt, pickles them. I love this pickle and followed his recipe to make my own from my garden produce, as I was running out of his stock! Eyeballed most of the ingredients.
This is one of the best versions of eggplant/brinjal/aubergine made with a special spice mix. Like most children, I wasn’t too fond of eggplant growing up, due to the texture. But my patti got me to eat this in her own special way. After she made this curry, and transferred it to a serving dish, there would be invariably some sticking to the kadai (or maybe she left it on purpose). Anyway, she would add some hot rice to the baanali (that’s what we called the vaanali in our family), add a couple of spoons of ghee, and mix it all together, make balls of the rice shining with the eggplant and the ghee, and go around distributing it. Oh man, that was the best! To this day, I do it every time I make eggplant curry this way, but somehow my memories taste better!
Vathal or vendhaya kuzhambu is the ultimate Tambrahm rustic dish, made when you don’t have fresh produce on hand, especially during the monsoons when the sundried vegetables from the previous year come in handy. Vathal means dried stuff basically any vegetable or certain berries like turkey berry (sundakai in Tamil), black night shade (manathakkali in Tamil) in their sundried form are added to a thick tamarind extract, with basic kuzhambu powder (spice mix) and boiled to a thick jam-like gravy, and eaten with rice. The flavor comes from the tadka/thalippu/tempering in sesame oil and the tart tamarind extract, the tartness balanced by the vathal or vegetable of your choice. Fresh vegetables such as drumstick, red pumpkin, onions/shallots are also used and are typically my favorites. If you have no vegetable or vathal on hand, one version of this uses papads. Fry the papads broken in pieces in the initial tempering, and proceed as usual.