Wednesday, January 23, 2013

On The Gravy Train, Again

I only rarely used coconut in my cooking till I got Mikcee. I don't think we've ever used it that much for me to miss it but I miss the old-style traditional rotary grater, which looked something like this. Grating coconut was a breeze with those things.

Then in the last few years, a store we patronised began offering grated coconut but we couldn't really use it well because I had a fancy food processor which couldn't do many tasks that an Indian kitchen demanded, so between the lack of a grater and a mixie, our coconut consumption was pretty limited.

I finally traded in the food processor for a regular, no-frills Indian mixie because the former was occupying too much space, and it's one of the best decisions I've made. We consume a little more coconut now in the form of gravies and avial.

I like mixed vegetable gravies and recently went looking for recipes for something a neighbour had given us long ago. It may have been Poricha Kuzhambu but none of the recipes in the first few searches were printable. I didn't have the patience to write them down. So I kept surfing and searching till I came across some recipe that used tamarind, another that used dal, another that used coconut and others that used all these and more!

I combined all these into one and only halfway through remembered a colleague telling me that poricha kuzhambu was made without tamarind. But the recipes on the Net said otherwise and anyway, I had soaked some tamarind already so I just went ahead with my concoction.

I had had more than a cup of soaked and boiled field beans in the bridge, and some broad beans as well (a dozen), which I boiled and chopped into big pieces.

I ground

1/2 a cup of coconut bits 
2 red chillies
A teaspoon of cumin
More than a teaspoon of peppercorns

I put a spoon or two of oil into a pan, heated it and sauteed a chopped onion.

Then I added the beans and the vegetables and sauteed them.

I cooked it for a bit in tamarind extract - a lime-sized ball in a cup of water.

I then added the ground paste and let it cook for a while.

At this point, I remembered I had some cooked toor dal (pigeon peas) in the fridge, so I added a ladle of it to that.

It was wonderful!

The next week, I did the same thing with a mix of 10-12 broad beans, one green banana, some soaked and boiled black channa and a drumstick. I omitted the dal, didn't miss it at all.

There are a lot of beans in the first dish and more than a handful in the second one, so I'm sending off this post to MLLA 55 hosted by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook.


  1. True that traditionally for porichcha kuzhambu we do not use tamarind, but lately I too have seen many recipes that use that and many more. However, cooking is all about how we like the taste and I think it is acceptable to stray a bit.

  2. Hye How are you?? Its been such a long time and am so glad to drop in at your blog. Lovely recipe. Am starting to blog again, so do drop in.

  3. I like your cook as you go approach Sra. I do like coconut based gravys though T doesn't care much for them.

  4. Oh and love how you write mikcee. I always read it as mikee first and then realize you are talking about a mixi. :-)

  5. That coconut spice mix sounds verry good to my years. I never liked grating coconut, get good frozen ones here which serve my purpose.

  6. This style of cooking is exactly what I enjoy! A little bit from here, a little from there, a little from your own imagination and a complete dish becomes :) I have had kara kozhambu and vetha kozhambu and loved both! I dont know what Porichcha kozhambu is, but from your list of ingredients it sounds promising and comforting...

  7. Hi Sra,

    i guess every home have their own version of Poricha Kuzhambu. I am from Palakkad so mine is very different. We saute in oil some pepper, bengal gram, dhania and finally in the end add the grated coconut to "fry" all of htem in the oil. Then grind them with a little water to a smooth paste. the difference being this one doesnt have red chilies but pepper for the spice! Yours looks great...

  8. Oh my, Sra - it looks wonderful! I like veggie gravies, too. Your spice trio of chiles, cumin, and peppercorns sounds divine, uncomplicated but just right.

    I recently purchased canned drumsticks b/c the grocer did not have them fresh. (The plan is to make avial [coconut again].) Wondering now if I should have gotten frozen. Well, I'll find out.

    Thank you for your great contribution to MLLA!

  9. I know what you mean about grating. I end up using frozen coconut here for my spice mixes. This looks delish!

  10. Mmmmmmm it looks mouthwatering. Can't wait to try this soon.


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