More Kozhambu is the South Indian version of kadhi, if I may, a flavourful preparation using curd. In Tamil, this literally translates into ‘buttermilk (more) gravy (kozhambu)‘. Unlike the sweetish Gujarati kadhi or the delicious Punjabi pakodewali kadhi though, More Kozhambu is made fragrant with ingredients like green chillies, dry red chillies, coconut, ginger, cumin and coriander seeds. Vegetables like ash gourd, okra or ladies’ finger, drumsticks and brinjal often figure in More Kozhambu, as do lentil vadas. Today, I am going to share with you all our family recipe for Vendekkai More Kozhambu, i.e. more kozhambu made using okra.
With crispy okra cooked in a fragrant and flavourful curd mixture, this Vendekkai More Kozhambu makes for a beautiful accompaniment to piping hot steamed rice, with a dollop of ghee added in for good measure. It also goes well with adai, delectable savoury lentil pancakes made Tamilnadu-style. The more kozhambu isn’t very tough to prepare either – with a little bit of prior preparation, it takes only a few minutes to put together.
Different families prepare more kozhambu in different ways, with minor variations in cooking techniques, the basic ingredients remaining more or less the same. This is the way Vendekkai More Kozhambu has always been made in our family, the way I learnt making it from Amma. This is a vegetarian recipe, one that can easily be made gluten-free just by omitting the asafoetida used in the tempering.
I’m sharing this recipe for the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group of food bloggers cooking dishes from a different part of India every month. The participants are paired up, and each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, which are then used to cook a dish from the state of the month. This month, the members of the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge group are exploring food from the South Indian state of Tamilnadu, and I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to showcase on my blog one more beautiful recipe from the rich culinary legacy my home state possesses. I was paired with the very talented Poonam of Annapurna for the month, who has an awe-inspiring collection of traditional Maharashtrian recipes as well as well-researched procedures for foods from across the globe. Poonam assigned to me the two secret ingredients of ‘chana dal‘ and ‘dry red chillies’, and this Vendekkai More Kozhambu is what I chose to use them in. You must visit Poonam’s blog to check out the gorgeous dish she made using the ingredients I gave her!
Let’s now go through the recipe for Vendekkai More Kozhambu without further ado.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 8-10 okra aka ladies fingers
- 1/2 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- A pinch of fenugreek seeds
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- 2 cups of thick curd
- Between 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water or as needed
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 sprig fresh curry leaves
For the spice paste:
- 1 tablespoon chana dal
- 2 dry red chillies
- 1 green chilli
- A 1-inch piece of ginger
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated coconut
1. Soak the chana dal, dry red chillies (broken roughly), cumin seeds and coriander seeds in a little water, for 20-25 minutes. This is to soften these ingredients to help make the spice paste easily.
2. Meanwhile, add the 3/4 cup of water or as needed to the curd to bring it to a thick-but-runny consistency. Add in salt, curry leaves and turmeric powder. Whisk gently to mix the ingredients well together. Keep aside.
3. Wash the okra well under running water. Pat dry using a cotton cloth. Remove the tops from the okra. Chop into 1-1/2 inch long pieces. Keep aside.
4. When the ingredients we soaked are soft enough, transfer them to a small mixer jar, along with the little water we used for soaking. Peel the ginger, chop roughly and add to the mixer jar. Chop up the green chilli roughly and add to the mixer jar. Add in the fresh grated coconut too. Grind everything together to a coarse paste.
5. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a thick-bottomed pan. Add in the okra pieces, along with a little salt. Cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes or until the okra is cooked.
6. Now, keeping the flame on medium, add the curd mixture to the pan. Add in the spice paste we ground earlier too. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the mixture comes to a boil. If the consistency is too thick, you may add in a little water at this stage.
7. At this stage, reduce flame a bit more. Simmer the mixture for a minute or so. Switch off gas.
8. Now, we will prepare the tempering . Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add in the fenugreek seeds and the asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Add this tempering to the curd mixture. Mix well.
9. Your Vendakkai More Kozhambu is ready. Keep it covered for at least a few minutes before serving for the dish to absorb the flavours of the tempering. You can serve it hot, warm or at room temperature, with steamed rice and a poriyal of your choice.
1. Make sure the okra is well cooked, but not soggy before you add in the curd mixture to the pan. The okra should have lost its stickiness but should not be overly cooked.
2. Be careful while adding salt to the curd as you have lightly salted the okra too.
3. I use home-made thick curd to make the Vendakkai More Kozhambu. You can use store-bought curd instead too.
4. Make sure you keep the flame low while you add the curd mixture to the pan, to ensure that it does not curdle.
5. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies and green chilli you add in for the spice paste, depending upon personal taste preferences.
6. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon how thick you want the Vendakkai More Kozhambu to be.
7. Do not cook the more kozhambu too much after it comes to a boil. Just a short simmer, and it’s done.
8. The Vendakkai More Kozhambu thickens further upon cooling. It is, therefore, best to keep the texture runny when you finish.
9. Some families dry roast the ingredients for the spice paste before grinding them. We soak the hard ingredients, then add in the other requirements and grind everything together. You can choose any one method.
10. I have sauteed the ladies’ fingers in oil till cooked through, before adding the curd mixture to the pan, the way we do it in our family. Alternatively, you may even deep fry the ladies’ fingers.
11. Coconut oil or gingelly oil (nalla ennai) works best in the making of this Vendekkai More Kozhambu. However, you may use any other type of oil you prefer instead, too.
12. Toor dal can be used in the spice mix, too, instead of chana dal. You can also use a mix of chana dal and urad dal.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!