Of course, with the passage of time and changing lifestyles and the move to less spicy cooking in a lot of households...it is sometimes not easy to find those genuinely spicy[but Oh, so tasty :-) foods!!!] nowadays, cooked at home or in restaurants.
One such curry which is decidedly fiery is "Vattral Kuzhambu". This curry is definitely only for the brave of heart and strong of stomach...yet it appeals to me on different levels - it is tangy, spicy and also has a hint of sweetness(a touch of jaggery, being the reason behind that) Also I tend to add another dimension of taste that is bitterness, by adding a significant quantity of fenugreek seeds to it...thus combining the spicy nature of the curry with the known nutritious benefits of the bitter fenugreek seeds. Basically, in our family we sometimes combine two different traditional curries - Vattral Kuzhambu and Vendhaya Kuzhambu to make Vendhaya Katthirikkai Vattral Kuzhambu - the name is quite a mouthful but it is an easy enough curry to prepare and it packs quite a nutritional wallop in the form of the fenugreek seeds.
Fenugreek is a great aid to digestion because it contains a non-dissolving fiber. It is able to lower levels of harmful cholesterol and to regulate blood sugar levels. It is also believed to be beneficial for treating bronchitis, allergies, and congestion.
With all these nutritional benefits, is it any wonder that I prepare this curry quite often at home. Of course, I guess I have to admit that I crave the spice that comes along with the nutrition in the curry!!!
This recipe is off to the CWS - Fenugreek Seeds Event guest - hosted by Denufood and started by Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes.
Recipe for Spicy South Indian Curry with Fenugreek Seeds and Eggplant(Vendhaya Katthirikkai Vattral Kuzhambu):
Serves: 3 or 4
Prep/Cook Time: 30 - 35 minutes
Shallots - 6 to 8 peeled
Round, small eggplant - 3 or 4 cut into small pieces
Tamarind water - 2 cups
Toovar Dal(red gram dal) - pressure cook for 2 whistles and keep aside
Jaggery - small piece
To roast and grind into fine paste:
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 cup
Red chillies - 5 or 6
Urud Dal (split black gram) - 2 tsp
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds(dhania) - 1tsp
Grated coconut - 2 tbsp
Mustard(rai) - 1tsp, Urud Dal - 1tsp, Red chilly pepper - 1no.(optional), few curry leaves, asafoetida(hing) - small piece soaked in water, salt and turmeric, gingelly oil or til oil - 2tsp
In a pan, add the oil and when it heats up add all the seasonings except salt and when the mustard starts to crackle, add the shallots and eggplant and let it cook till the shallots and eggplant turn a little brownish in color(almost cooked).
Add the tamarind water and salt and let it boil well for 8 to 10 minutes on medium high heat.
Then, add the ground paste and jaggery and let the mixture cook for another 5 minutes.
Finally add the cooked toovar dal(red gram dal) to the curry and let it boil for a minute or two before switching off the heat.
This curry is an awesome accompaniment to rice as well as rotis or chappathis.
Note: All ethnic items available at Asian/Indian grocery stores.