Thursday, February 7, 2013

Kara Kulambu (You have been warned spicy kulambu!)

In the last post I talked about how washing dishes was turning out to be fun. What about cooking then?

Been suffering from a bout of bad cold, cough and sore throat this week. Could hardly speak without sounding like a minimalistic gruff-voiced villain, somewhat like Raghuvaran, though I don't have his persona. So as a result felt like having some really spicy food - I guess primarily to serve the cold with notice papers and eviction orders from my system.

Now what could be more spicier than tasty kara kulambu? The way my mom used to make kara kulambu, we mostly used it as a side-dish! Fancy that! You top rice normally with some kind of podi, eg: thenga podi and then use kara kulambu alongside. If you are adventurous, you could also eat it directly with rice and spend the next 45 minutes gasping for icy cold water.

So how does one make Kara kulambu? So from what my mom explained, here's what I actually did. Turned out quite well though. The first instruction was to take a lime size of tamarind (Tamil: Puli). How do I know what I picked up is lime sized? Simple enough - you roll it up and visualize a lime momentarily replacing that dark tamarind mound in your palm with that of a lime. If the size agrees, proceed to the next step.
Note: If at anytime during this stage while you were rolling that mound of tamarind in your palm, and you happened to think of the Ferrero Rocher chocolate, then muster all that you can to resist the urge completely and totally to put the tamarind ball in your mouth! ok?

Take about a dosa batter spreading spoon (I think approx 5-7 tea spoons) full of cooking oil and spread it in a nonstick container. Even a tawa would do I guess. sprinkle mustard and wait until they start cracking. I always add the Jeera only after the mustard has shown some signs of life for I believe they can then enjoy each other's company. Plus Jeera and oil don't exactly have a great relationship and if you leave them together too long, Jeera gets a blackened face from Mr oil's front jab punches. Put some curry leaves and some garlic whole pieces. Add about a table spoon of toor dal (yes raw just like that. Don't ask.) Add one big sized onion and if you don't have any other vegetable, add more onion if possible and fry until the onion turns golden brown. Add any vegetable that goes well with Kara Kulambu. I had only ladies finger - so in it went.

Note to self: Need to make a list of all vegetables that work well with this kulambu. I have a faint suspicion that mushrooms won't. I remember once adding mushrooms to sambar and my sis-in-law spoke against my culinary skills for a entire week!. Oh! You think I should'nt have brought that up while you were diligently following my instructions till this point?

The moment you add ladies finger, sprinkle some salt. From a friend, I've found that if you don't follow this salt sprinkling diligently, you better be prepared for one really messy ladies finger web that spider-man might relish, but not us mere mortals.

Fry the mixture for some time on a low flame. While all this happens you have already made the tamarind paste with about 500ml of water right? You haven't? You better hurry up then and add to this! And then finally before increasing the flame to high, add three table spoon mounds of sambar powder. Be sure to add before the whole thing is boiling, as the powder won't dissolve well otherwise. I think it's kinda analogous to staying away from people who are boiling with rage! Philosophy aside, leave the mixture to boil on a low flame or a high flame as you desire until you see a thick mixture. If you don't see a thick mixture, somewhere you didn't follow these instructions to the letter, so your case against me doesn't have much of a stand in a formal court-room.

And you did add some salt in between all those steps right? The good part about salt is it can be added anytime! If it's thick and if it tastes well, then it's done. Refrigerate and use as side for all sorts of rice - coconut rice, thenga-thool rice, curd rice, blah blah...

Update: I think as a last step we need to add a tea spoon of sugar too, but I forgot while preparing the above. So it's ok if you forgot too!

A good friend of mine remarked some time back that he found cooking very therapeutic! I agree heartily! I think my cold disagrees though!

 Salt and Pepper having a dreamy dinner with Kara Kulambu in Romantic Paris. 
I think the yellow streak could be oil. It could also be a technical lighting issue. You do need some oil for it to stay without being spoiled (like a pickle) for some time, but probably not too much.

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