Vaththalkozhambu (Indian hot+sour sauce/soup)

From: (Ramaswamy Krishnan)

Date: Tue, 24 Aug 1993 19:30:46 -0400 (EDT)

Well, if you don't mind a visit to the local Indian grocer, here is
a TRUE Tamilian (South Indian) dish.
     The usual way to eat it is to mix it with boiled plain rice.  Some
     edible oil or melted butter can be added to reduce the hot taste
     depending on the taste buds.
     _THE_ side dish for vaththalkuzhambu is 'sutta appaLaam' (toasted
     rice/lentil wafers) - a very complicated one to make from scratch.
     These are available at all Indian grocers and need to be just
     toasted over gas/electric stove.
     _THE_ dish for which vaththalkuzhambu is a good side dish is
     'thayir chaadham' (boiled rice mixed with yogurt and salt).
     All the ingredients should be available at Indian grocery stores,
     except the exotic ManaththangaLikkai/Subdaikkai, which may not
     be in all stores.  But as you can see below, it forms the last
     of the ingredients in importance (yes, purists will contest it!).

     Turn on the exhaust fan before the spice roast smell hits you!

     Quantity  Item in order of importance    What/How is it ; Where to get
     3/4 tsp   Tamarind concentrate           Sour; at Indian/Chinese grocers
     1   tsp   Salt
     4   tsp   Red Chilli Powder              HOT!; at most grocers
     1   tsp   Rice powder (fine)             Plain; at Indian/Chinese grocers
     4   tsp   Cooking Oil
     1/2 tsp   Mustard                        1mm brown spheres; at most grocers
     1/2 tsp   Vendhayam (Fenugreek)          bitter; at most grocers
     1 pinch   Hing (Asafoetida) powder       a type of gum; at most grocers
     1   tsp   Chana Daal                     a lentil; at Indian grocers
     A few     Curry leaves (fresh or dried)  for flavor; at Indian grocers
     10        Whole Peanuts 
     3   tsp   Manath-than-gaLik-kaai         They have bitter+salty taste.
               and / or Sun-daik-kaai         VERY special wild berries.
                                              Sundaikkai is cranapple size and
                                              Mana... is peppercorn size. Dried
                                              salted, and later roasted, these
                                              ARE unique (a bit like anchovies).
                                              Available at some Indian grocers.
                                              To identify when buying, Sund...
                                              is 1 cm dia and looks black.
                                              Mana... looks like peppercorn.
                                              They have bitter+salty taste.
     1. Dissolve tamarind concentrate paste in 1.5 cups of water.
        Filter the juice to remove any dregs.  Keep it away for now.
     2. Add 1 teaspoon of rice powder to 1 cups of water and blend EVENLY.
        Keep it away for now.

     3. Switch on you exhaust and have some ventilation (it is not needed
        if cooking is done right) but it never is :) - don't blame yourself
        for poor ventilation later.
     4. Warm sauce pan and add the cooking oil.
     5. Add in order :
        Mustard, Chana Daal, Vendhayam (Fenugreek), and Peanuts.
        If available, add Sundaikkai and/or ManaththangaLikkai vaththal.
     6. Wait till the Daal gets brown (or Mustard starts cracking) and
        turn stove to low heat.
     7. Add the Tamarind juice and then the Chilli powder.
     8. Add Asafoetida, cover pan and let it boil for 4-5 minutes.
     9. Add rice water, salt and then curry leaves.
    10. Mix evenly and let it simmer till it thickens to the consistency
        of a thick soup - about 3-5 minutes.  Put the stove on medium heat
        if need be.  The water will evaporate from the mix and the mix
        will thicken - don't let it burn.  Keep an eye on it and turn
        stove off to cool when done.

     AppaLaams (also called Paapad) are available at all Indian grocers.
     AppaLaam is Sun dried rice/lentil wafer - a very tedious recipe.
     Roast a few appaLaams directly over a gas grill or electric stove
     coil.  To make an even roast, keep alternating the side of the
     appaLaam to the flame.  The appaLaam should be fully roasted
     and at the same time not be burnt (black).  To overcome this
     intricate roasting, some grocers sell microwave appaLaam now.
     If roasting doesn't work, try deep frying the appaLaam - again,
     heat the oil well first and don't let the appaLaam become dark.
     If all else fails, get a bag of good corn / potato chips.
     Boil and cool 1 cup of plain rice.  Add a teaspoon of edible oil or
     melted butter.  Add vaththalkuzhambu and mix.  Add more oil or butter
     as needed for taste.  Enjoy this with appaLaam as side dish.
     If you prefer it NOT hot :
     Mix boiled and cooled rice with plain yogurt to an edible consistency.
     Add a pinch of salt.  Eat this with 'vaththalkuzhambu' as side dish.


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