Sunday, February 24, 2013

Paruppu Urundai Kulambu (Lentil balls cooked in a spicy gravy)

I'm ready for a warmer weather.  I want to free myself from wearing layer after layers just to place my garbage outside. I'm ready to wear my flipflops and go for a walk in my neighborhood. More than all, I am ready for summer food.  Grilling, Cool Frappuccino, Oberwies Sundaes - I can't wait.

Lately I have been just trying some of my favorite traditional recipes. Last week I sat back in my couch with a bunch of cook books on my lap and went through all of them. I bookmarked several recipes - a lot of them were traditional home made recipes that I have a craving for now and some of them I have not even heard of. My "To Cook" list has grown longer than ever. Paruppu Urundai Kulambu is an authentic tamil recipe made often in our state, but the preparation may differ between households. This is a perfect dish for a weekend lunch accompanied with some traditional side dishes like poriyal or koottu.

For the Paruppu Urundai: 
  • Toor Dhal - 3/4 cup
  • Chana dal - 1/4 cup
  • Red chillies - 2
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Garlic - 1 small clove (optional)
  • Onions - minced - 1 tbsp
  • Salt - as needed
  • Curry leaves and Corriander leaves - finely chopped  - a hand full.
For the Kulambu:
  • Onion - 1 medium sized - finely chopped
  • Garlic - 3 cloves - finely chopped
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Asafoetida - 2 pinches
  • Tomatoes - 2 small - chopped
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Kulambu powder - 2 tsp (You can substitute this with 2 tsp sambar powder or 1 tsp chilli powder and 2 tsp corriander powder)
  • Tamarind Water - 2 cups (or 1 tbsp tamarind paste mixed with 2 cups of water)
  • Shredded Coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Fennel Seeds - 2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
  • Corriander leaves - to garnish
  • Soak the dals for 2 hrs. Grind the dals with fennel seeds, garlic, red chillies and salt. Do not add water. Mix the dal paste with Onions, curry leaves and corriander leaves.
  • Make equal sized balls of the paste and set aside.
  • Meanwhile, steam the balls (I use idli steamer - just place the balls on the idli plates and steam for 5 mins).
  • Grind the coconut and 1 tsp fennel seeds to a fine paste. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wide and deep pan. Season with mustard seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds and asafoetida.
  • Add the onions, garlic and curry leaves and fry for a few mins until the onions start changing color.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, the spice powders and salt. Fry well in medium heat until the tomatoes are fully cooked.
  • Add the tamarind water and bring it to boil. Cover and let it cook for 10 mins in medium heat.
  • Add the coconut paste and let it boil. Now gently add the steamed balls into the gravy. Let them cook in low heat for 10 mins.
  • Garnish with corriander leaves and let it sit for half an hour before serving.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Brussel Sprouts Curry

This is one of those vegetables that is not common on dinner tables. Many times, I had stopped and explored this vegetable in grocery stores, but had no idea about what to do with these. Surprisingly, when mom visited us a few years back, she was excited to see this vegetable in a local grocery store  and she immediately bought and prepared a traditional Kurma out of this. Until then, I didn't know it could taste so good with Indian spices. I think this vegetable has a bad reputation among kids since it becomes slightly bitter when overcooked. The best way to cook these are either roast them in an oven with olive oil and mild spices or make a mild curry out of it without overcooking. Over time, I’ve done everything from sautéing just the brussel sprout leaves to lightly preparing a curry with mild spices for rotis and rice. This curry is a fantastic recipe with a very different flavor and goes very well with rotis.


  • Brussel Sprouts - 1 pound
  • Red Onion - 1 medium sized
  • Curry leaves - a few
  • Asaefotida - 1 pinch
  • R.Chilly - 1
  • Garlic - 1small pod
  • Tomatoes - chopped - 1/2 cup
  • Tomato Puree - 2 tbsp
  • Chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Corriander powder - 2 tsp
  • Turmeric - 1/4 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp


  • Take the brussel sprouts, cut the hard parts on the tip and remove the top leaves that are loose. Wash them thoroughly and cut them into 2 or 4 pieces depending on the size.
  • Chop the onions, garlic and tomato finely
  • Heat oil in a wide pan, season with mustard, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves.
  • Break the red chilly into two pieces and add to the seasoning.
  • Add the chopped garlic and fry in low heat for a few secs.
  • Add the chopped onions, salt and fry for a min or two.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes, turmeric, chilli and corriander powders and fry well for a few mins until the tomatoes lose shape.
  • Add the tomato puree, mix well and cover for a few mins.
  • Once the spices are cooked well, add the brussel sprouts and mix well until the spice mixture is completed coated on the sprouts.
  • Cover and cook for 12-15 mins, stirring them frequently.
  • If required add some water to help the sprouts cook well. (Remember the key is not to overcook the sprouts. Just cook them until they are soft and still retain their shape).
  • Cook until the water is fully evaporated and everything comes together well.
  • Remove from heat, serve hot with Rotis.