Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Okra, Tart, Sweet and Gravied!

Growing older makes me realise that many things I believed to be true about myself are not so, or are no longer so. Now, this is not the introduction to some ponderous, introspective spiel about myself and my life lessons but this past week, I discovered that I am not as lazy a cook as I thought myself to be.

A vertiginous Spouse confined to home resulted in both of us eating both lunch and dinner at home. All this consumption led to the happy consequence of very few leftovers (which in their limited leftoverness only added to the variety on the table), as a result of which we cooked five days a week. And, I actually enjoyed it - I got to make traditional stuff I haven't in a long while, or traditional stuff that I failed at and gave up on earlier came out well because I paid it some more attention. (Oh, we still got stuff from the takeaway when we felt carnivorous or needed that little bit extra to liven up the day, but most of it was home food, most of which I am so enjoying re-discovering.)


Here's one such dish, the sweet and sour pulusu (tamarind-based gravy), that turned out really well both times I made it, once with plantain and once with ladies finger. It was all about discovering long-lost tastes - my grandmother used to make these often, our cook a little less often and me, rarely.

Here's the recipe:

Ladies' fingers/okra, wiped, topped and tailed and cut into 1 inch-long pieces: 1-1/2 cups/250 gm
Onion: 1, medium, chopped
Tomato: 1, medium, chopped fine
Tamarind: 4-5 one-inch strips, soaked in 1-1/2 cups of water
(Squish to extract the juice and discard the pulp)

Mustard seed: 1 tsp
Cumin seed: 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek: 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves: A sprig
Garlic: 2-3 cloves, crushed (Optional)
Oil: 1 + 1 tsp

Salt
Red chilli powder or Sambar powder: 1 or 1-1/2 tsp
Turmeric: 1/2 tsp
Jaggery: 2-3 tsp

In one tsp of oil, saute the ladies' fingers well, till there is no stringy goo left.

Keep them aside.

In a pan, heat the other tsp of oil, temper with mustard seed, cumin, garlic, curry leaves and fenugreek.

Add the onion and fry. Sweat it till it turns pink, at least.

Then add the tomato and the salt, turmeric and chilli/sambar powder.

Cover and cook on medium/low heat till mushy.

Add the tamarind juice, ladies' fingers and mix well. Bring it to a boil and let it thicken. Check for seasoning.

Just before removing it from the fire, add the jaggery and mix well.

Bon appetit!

42 comments:

  1. i love the color...and yeah! it has been long i have cooked traditional food. I always promise myself to do so when i visit india..but....
    gotta try this pulusu with plantain...later :D

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  2. your opening line made to think I am going to get some life revelations from you. Bendakaya pulusu looks lovely wish someone would make it for me :)

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  3. Oh this pulusu is sure to please... however I may skip the jaggery.

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  4. Very provocative title honey... or is it just my imaginative mind!

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  5. It looks gorgeous! How fun, to be home, cooking... I may do that soon!

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  6. Ooh! I make similar kind of pulusu too..and I usually add arvi in it. Your vesion looks so delicious Sra! I will try your version next time I make it.

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  7. my ammama used to make awesome pulusu Sra. and urs reminds me of hers..:) - how we used hog..and by the way - U ARE AN AWESOME COOK!!!

    Siri

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  8. looks lovely .. totally new to me .. i love okra got to give this a try

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  9. Beautiful colour. Sounds similar to vathal kozhambu sans the vathal, of course.

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  10. hehehe that is some title you have for this post :) pulusu is a must-have for me but okra i avoid unless its one of the four dishes TH and I like :D

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  11. lovely pic!! beautiful colour!! the dish lookss yum yum yummmy!! :-))

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  12. I so very agree on the fact that the more time you give in making a dish yields fantastic results..

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  13. That looks like a nice accompaniment with rice... traditional as you said.

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  14. sra you are in some mood..what a title and yes very exciting to read along..finally we have you cooking non stop..good to know..now when I meet your spouse, should tell him to stay at home frequently for us to atleast see some classics like these...")

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  15. Fingering the ladies... ??? You know how to get people here, don't you? :D
    I am loving the look of that gravy... I too managed to cook some traditional stuff this week, after a long time...

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  16. How is it that your sabzis always look so much better than mine ever do? sighhhhhh

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  17. We make this very often and not with jaggery ofcourse. Having it over piping hot rice with a papad is simply divine! Yeah if u cook good tasty food there won't be any leftovers and my idea is not to carry over bitter experience to the future too (am talking about not-so-good-food-stored-in-fridge) LOL!

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  18. quite like vendakkai vatha kuzhambu :-) I must try it with plantain :-)

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  19. It is like the vethal kuzhambu we make. Lovely pic. Lets' do potluck one day...;)

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  20. btw...just had to Lol at the title for this post.:)

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  21. Dear ,dear sra, now wasn't that naughty:-DDD

    Love the colour of your dish :-)

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  22. That title was misleading, to say the least. I almost thought I had the wrong blog till I saw your header!
    This is somewhere in between my kuzhambu and a puli pachadi. I don't mind okra this way at all, no gooey stuuf.:)

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  23. You know my eyes are filled with tears from laughing from the time i read your tittle.
    Love the curry, must have been delicious with rice.

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  24. Rajitha, yes, I'm always trying 'exciting' food, so the traditional often tend to get left behind.
    Sreelu, yeah, I keep wishing that myself too!
    Laavanya, you don't like jaggery, or worried about the calories? It's really a great taste, try a bit.
    Mallika, no, not your imaginative mind!
    Katie, my day starts at 5 am, to the gym and back, I like to finish off the cooking as early as possible and take it easy till I go to work. This past week, however, it didn't seem so strenuous.
    Uma, yeah, arvi, plantain, brinjal, pumpkin, drumsticks, sorakai, any of these things. Sweet potato, too!
    Siri, wow! Thanks.
    Veg Platter, try it, it's quite nice.
    Jayashree, that's one dish I've not attempted so far.
    Nags, so you have just those four okra dishes on your blog - I seem to have seen quite a few, and quite recently at that!
    Vij, hi, thanks.
    Rachel, yes, and time's a luxury.
    Divya, very traditional indeed!
    Valli, I didn't cook today because we had a pot of pappucharu to finish!
    Sig, my stats don't say so, dear! Maybe this is a beginning.
    Cynic, it's like the ghar ki murgi phenomenon - this is an exception but most of my food looks drab and unappetising and I don't like to eat it myself.
    Ni, somehow discarding edible food seems bad to me, bad enough that I've wasted lots and thrown it out. I have to learn to cook in smaller quantities, I suppose, but then it will have to be rationed.
    Raaga, it's great with plantain.
    Vidya, LOL! Yes to the potluck.
    Sunita, ;) ;) Thanks
    Aparna, surprised you, did I?
    Happy cook, glad to have amused you!

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  25. Sra, my grandmother would make this often, my mother rarely and me never. Time to try it since I have ladiesfinger at home. Thanks for reminding me of this forgotten classic. Oh, this tastes great with bittergourd too.

    Mamatha

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  26. u have been tagged....

    http://ipoohpooh.blogspot.com/2008/09/taggedyikes.html

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  27. the traditional, simple recipes are the best! always comforting and satisfying :)

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  28. He he naughty gal, u disappointed many of us with ur title :(
    By the way, i love pulusu anytime, even for idli dosai :) Awesome gal you are!

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  29. i've tasted this, sure is yummm, my friend also makes it w/ brinjal. btw, happy 2nd :)

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  30. something similar to okra gojju we make. spicy, sweet and sour all in one. just the way i like it...
    makes me sing, just the way i like it, aha, ahaaa ;)

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  31. and ur post titles rock ;)

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  32. Love the color and the ingredients!! Very tasteful!!

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  33. my mom use to prepare this recipe and urs also looking so good!
    Visit my blog while u find time and join in the chicken event going in my blog!

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  34. Sra,
    the color of the gravy is making me so craving for it ...
    I am sure your other half is quite happy to have home food 5 days a week .
    This is certainly delicious food..
    hugs and smiles

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  35. Yum! Something I'd like to try.

    Paz

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  36. Lovely pic Sra. Tempts me to make that for lunch rightaway!! And the title....there should be a censorboard now!! :)

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  37. Mamatha, really? I would try it but as I'm the only one that eats bittergourd around here, it would stay in my home for days!
    Rajitha, wondering how to handle that tag ...
    Tee, so true! That's what I'm discovering, slowly.
    Cham, :) Even for idli, dosai? Why not?
    Richa, yeah, brinjal pulusu's another favourite, and thanks.
    Sia, I remember that jingle!
    Swati, thanks.
    Srilekha, thanks. Will visit.
    Jaya, yeah, he was quite pleased. So was I, but he's back at work now and I'm worried about leftovers again.
    Paz, do try.
    Jyothsna, it was just naughty, censors are for worse! :)

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  38. As a fairly recent convert to okra, I fancy any recipe for it that comes along. Sweet and sour has my mouth watering just to imagine it.

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  39. Hi, beautiful picture and a mouthwatering dish. Bhindi in any form is amazing, and the pulusu is just perfect with the sweet and sour taste. I love bhindi rasam too.

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  40. sra, that looks so good with that deep red color. Will have to try it soon. Also, congrats on blog milestone, and wishing you many more in the days to come :)

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  41. Susan, the gravy's the flavour of the moment at my place now, I've made it thrice with three different veggies already!
    Shreya, bhindi rasam? I've never heard of that, have you posted it? I'll look at your blog.
    Mandira, thank you, thank you.

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  42. This looks soooo tempting. Ive had something like this at a friends place but this looks waaay better. Will try it out and let u know if it tasted better..im sure it will!!!

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