Today's preparation is essentially a Tambrahm delicacy as prepared by my mother and grandmother. I am told that most kozhambu preparations are spicy, tempered, tamarind gravies, slightly tangier than sambar. The word 'porichcha' means to roast and season. The seasoning given to this kozhambu is what sets it apart from other tamarind based gravies and hence the name. The tamarind combines with the slightly sweet taste of roasted coconut to produce a rich taste and aroma with each mouthful. As it contains a double dose of coconut (in the gravy as well as the seasoning) it is quite a rich dish and made occasionally.
Recipe: Porichcha Kozhambu (Mixed vegetables in tangy tamarind gravy seasoned with roasted coconut flakes)
Preparation time: 20 minutes (grating coconut, roasting and preparing the ground paste)
Lobia/Black eyed peas - 1 cup (Picture 3)
Tamarind - lime sized ball (Picture 2)
Salt and turmeric as per taste
Chenai/Suran/Elephant's foot yam - diced into 1 cm cubes - 1/2 cup (Picture 1)
Raw plantain and potatoes diced into slightly bigger cubes than yam - 1/2 to 3/4 cup (mixed)
Coriander seeds/Dhania - 1tsp.
Bengalgram/Chana dal - 1tsp.
Dehusked black gram/Urad dal - 2tsp.
Fenugreek seeds/Methi dana - 1/4 tsp. (Optional)
Grated coconut - 1.5 tbsp.
Mustard seeds/Rai - 1tsp.
Dehusked black gram/Urad dal - 1tsp.
Grated coconut - 1tbsp.
Curry leaves/Kadi patta - 1 long sprig or 7 to 10 leaves
Oil (preferably coconut oil)- 1 tsp.
- Roast the black eyed peas without oil till hot but not brown. Set aside to cool(Picture 4). Pressure cook with enough water.
- Soak tamarind for 15 minutes in enough warm water to cover it. Mash and extract the thick juice. Set aside.
- Make sure that the vegetables together measure to 1 heaped cup and that the proportion of yam is more than the rest of the veggies together. This dish does not make use of onions or tomatoes.
- Boil the vegetables with salt and turmeric powder in enough water to cover them, till half done. Now add the tamarind extract and boil till cooked through. The tamarind extract is added midway as it will otherwise hamper the cooking of yam.
- While the vegetables are cooking prepare the paste required for the gravy. Roast all the ingredients listed under 'ground paste' except coconut in 1/2tsp. oil till the lentils turn brown. Remove and mix the coconut in it while still hot. Grind to chutney consistency with little water.
- Mix the cooked vegetables, cooked lentils and ground paste adding water till it attains the consistency of sambar.
- Heat oil in a seasoning wok. Add mustard seeds, let splutter, add black gram and wait till it turns pink. Next add the coconut and curry leaves and roast well till brown. Pour over the vegetables and gravy. I use coconut oil but you may use any oil of your choice except mustard or olive as they have a strong aroma.
- Serving suggestion:This is best served with appalams, papadams or karudam (rice and lentil fritters). It is a heavy dish and is best had in small servings.
- This is also made with brown or white chickpeas instead of black eyed peas as these lentils absorb the tang of tamarind well. The appearance will change accordingly.
- Yam is the hero vegetable here so it has to be more than the rest of the vegetables in proportion.
- Do not add onions/tomatoes if you want a genuine taste.
- My experience tells me it is wiser not to meddle with the proportions of ingredients that go into the ground paste as coconut on the higher side suppresses the tang and tamarind on the higher side suppresses the taste of the roasted coconut added towards the end!!