Are you looking for a delicious side dish to serve with idlis or dosas? Something different from the usual sambar, chutneys and podis? This Aati Kachina Thakkali Kozhambu is just perfect for you, in that case!
What is Aati Kachina Thakkali Kozhambu?
Aati Kachina Thakkali Kozhambu is a specialty from the Kongunadu region of Tamilnadu. It refers to a gravy that is made by grinding tomatoes and then cooking it till thick – that’s what the name literally translates to, in Tamil.
This is a delectable dish, with freshly roasted and ground spices going in. The fresh coconut used in this Aati Kachina Thakkali Kozhambu makes it all the more flavourful. Also, this kozhambu is not very difficult to put together at all!
It has a silky-smooth texture that goes wonderfully well with idlis and dosas alike. It works beautifully with plain steamed rice as well.
A closer look at the Kongunadu region and its cuisine
Kongunadu refers to that part of Tamilnadu that includes present-day Erode, Salem, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Karur, Dindigul, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri, the Nilgiris and Namakkal. These places are believed to be where the ancient Tamils lived. The name of the region is derived from the Tamil word ‘kongu‘, which means ‘nectar’.
Kongunadu has a unique cuisine of its own, though there are many similarities to overall Tamilnadu cuisine too. Most Kongu people are vegetarians, with rice constituting a major part of their diets. However, there is also a lot of use of millets like pearl millet (bajra, ‘kambu‘ in Tamil), finger millet (ragi, ‘kelvaragu’ in Tamil). There is the generous use of turmeric and gingelly oil (sesame oil, ‘nalla ennai‘ in Tamil). Arisi Parippu Saadam, Kola Urundai, Kachayam and Sandhavai are some special dishes from the Kongunadu region.
Information Courtesy: Wikipedia
How to make Aati Kachina Thakkali Kozhambu
I came to know of this dish via Suguna Vinodh’s blog, Kannamma Cooks. I made it last year during the Covid lockdown, with slight variations to the original recipe, and it was an instant hit with my family. Since then, I have made it several times over.
Here’s how I make it. This recipe has been shared here with prior permission from Suguna. I absolutely have to thank Suguna for this gem of a heritage recipe.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 tablespoon oil
- 3/4 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 3-4 dry red chillies
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 1 small onion
- 4 medium-sized tomatoes
- 1/4 cup fresh coconut pieces
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
- 2 pinches of asafoetida
- Salt to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon sambar powder
- A small piece of tamarind (optional)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1. Peel the garlic cloves and onion. Chop the garlic, onion and tomatoes roughly. Keep aside.
2. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cumin seeds and dry red chillies. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute the ingredients for a minute or two or till they start giving out a lovely aroma. Take care to ensure not to burn the ingredients.
3. Now turn the flame down to low-medium. Add in the coconut pieces. Saute for about a minute.
4. Add in the chopped onion and garlic. Saute on low-medium flame for a minute.
5. Add in the chopped tomatoes, along with a bit of salt. Saute on low-medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the raw smell of the tomatoes goes away. Switch off gas at this stage. Allow the sauteed ingredients to cool down completely.
6. When the sauteed ingredients have fully cooled down, grind everything together to a smooth puree along with about 1/2 cup of water.
7. Heat the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil in the same pan we used earlier. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Then add in the curry leaves and asafoetida. Allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds.
8. Now add to the pan the paste we ground earlier, along with about 1-1/2 cups of water. Add in salt to taste and turmeric powder. Mix well.
9. Add in the sambar powder as well. Mix well. Turn the flame down to medium. Cook for 5-6 minutes on medium flame or till the mixture thickens up. Add a bit more water if it is too thick.
10. While the mixture is cooking, taste it and adjust salt and spices if needed. If the sourness is less, drop in a small piece of tamarind into the pan. Let it cook along with the other ingredients – it will impart its sourness to the mixture. (You can fish out the tamarind piece later, while serving.) Switch off gas when the mixture has thickened, 5-6 minutes as stated above. Mix in the finely chopped coriander at this stage. The Aati Kachina Thakkali Kozhambu is ready. Serve it warm or at room temperature with idlis or dosas.
Tips & Tricks
1. Use the more tart ‘Nati‘ (country) tomatoes for best results, as opposed to the less sour ‘farmed’ ones.
2. Using the tamarind is purely optional. If you feel the mixture is sour enough to your liking, you may skip adding the tamarind completely.
3. I have used the less spicy Bydagi dry chillies here. You may use any variety of dry red chillies you prefer.
5. The colour of the Aati Kachina Thakkali Kozhambu will depend upon the type of dry red chillies you use.
6. You may use tamarind extract in place of the whole tamarind I have used here.
7. You may add a bit of jaggery, if you so prefer. I haven’t used any here.
8. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the kozhambu you require. We prefer that the kozhambu is neither be too thick nor too watery.
9. I have used a small red onion here. You may use the little sambar onions instead, too.
10. Coconut oil or sesame oil work best in this dish. However, you can use any oil of your preference.
11. This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. To make it gluten-free, skip the asafoetida used in the above recipe and a gluten-free sambar powder. Most Indian brands of asafoetida available in the market do contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. Most sambar powder brands include asafoetida – and thereby wheat flour – making them NON gluten-free.
Sharing #TiffinSideDish recipes with Foodie Monday Blog Hop
This recipe is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop.
The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined, every Monday.
It was I who suggested the theme this week, #TiffinSideDish. I know many who are confused about what to serve their family along with idlis and dosas, when not in the mood for podi or sambar. So, we at Foodie Monday Blog Hop decided to make a compilation of side dishes that would help a lot of people. I’m super excited to see what my fellow group members have come up with, for the theme!
Some other side dishes
You might also want to take a look at some other interesting side dishes for idlis and dosas, on my blog.
Do check out my recipes for:
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!