Zucchini Thepla| Zucchini Roti

Zucchini Thepla is something I tried out recently, which was much loved by everyone at home. Today, I am going to share with you all the way I made these Thepla.

Zucchini Thepla, Gujarati-style

What is Thepla?

For the uninitiated, ‘thepla‘ refers to a flatbread from the state of Gujarat. Wheat flour (or millet flour) is spiced and mixed with a few other ingredients, along with grated or chopped vegetables, to make thepla. Bottlegourd (doodhi), fenugreek leaves (methi) and radish (mula) are some vegetables commonly used in thepla. Check out my recipe for Bajri Methi Na Thepla here.

Recently, I happened to pick up a lot of zucchini, a veggie that is mostly associated with dishes like pasta, pizza and Thai curry. I decided to use some in thepla – a sort of international twist to the Gujarati classic – and the result was brilliant. The watery nature of the zucchini yielded soft (and delicious) thepla, and they went on to become an instant hit with the family. Zucchini Thepla (or Gujarati-style Zucchini Roti, if I may) is a great way to consume the nutrient-rich vegetable, and this is definitely not the last time I have made this!

You might also be interested to read about another Indian dish I made using zucchini – Zucchini Thogayal or Tamilnadu Style Zucchini Chutney.

What went into the Zucchini Thepla?

There’s zucchini in there, of course, a veggie that is full of nutrients like folate, Vitamins A and C, potassium and fibre. I used green zucchini here.

I have used largely whole wheat flour to make these Zucchini Thepla, with just a little gram flour aka besan added in.

And then, there are the usual suspects found in a Gujarati Thepla – ginger and garlic, chillies, jaggery, curd, sesame seeds and the like.

This is a vegetarian recipe, but not vegan (plant-based) because of the use of curd. Skip the curd in case you want to make the Thepla vegan. These Thepla are also NOT gluten-free.

The A-Z Recipe Challenge

This post is brought to you in association with the A-Z Recipe Challenge.

The A-Z Recipe Challenge is undertaken by a group of passionate food bloggers who use ingredients in alphabetical order to create recipes, every month. I joined this group when we were doing the letter B – I had shared a recipe for Beetroot Poriyal. Now, it’s been more than a couple of years since, and we have reached Z, the last letter of the alphabet. 😊 I chose to make a dish using zucchini for Z, and that’s how these Zucchini Thepla came about.

How to make Zucchini Thepla or Zucchini Roti

Here is how I made them.

Ingredients (makes 15-18 rotis):

1. 2 cups wheat flour + more as needed to dust the thepla

2. 2 tablespoons gram flour (besan)

3. Salt to taste

4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

5. 2 pinches of asafoetida

6. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste

7. 1/2 teaspoon carom (ajwain) seeds

8. 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

9. 2 tablespoons thick curd

10. Half of a large zucchini, about 1 cup when grated

11. A handful of fresh coriander leaves

12. 3-4 green chillies

13. A 1-inch piece of ginger

14. 5-6 cloves of garlic

15. 1/2 tablespoon oil + as needed to make the Thepla

Method:

1. Take the wheat flour in a large mixing bowl. Add in the gram flour, salt to taste, asafoetida, turmeric powder, jaggery powder, sesame seeds and carom seeds.

2. Add the thick curd to the mixing bowl.

3. Grate the zucchini medium-thick. Add it to the mixing bowl.

4. Chop the coriander finely and add it to the bowl as well.

5. Peel the ginger and garlic cloves and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies roughly.

6. In a small mixer jar, grind together the chopped ginger, garlic and green chillies to a paste, using a little water. Add this paste to the mixing bowl.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Centre left and right: Steps 3 and 4, Bottom left and right: Steps 5 and 6

7. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl well, using your hands. Now, bind everything together into a soft dough. Add a little water if needed, otherwise the liquid ingredients should be enough to help bind the dough.

8. When the dough has almost come together, add in 1/2 tablespoon oil. Bind the dough till it becomes soft and non-sticky. Then knead it for a couple of minutes.

9. Proceed to make the Zucchini Thepla immediately, otherwise the dough will let out water and become very sticky and difficult to handle. For this, place a heavy pan on high flame and let it get heated up. Take a small ball of the dough and place it on a dusted work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll it out into a slightly thick roti. Dust with wheat flour as needed. Place the roti on the heated pan, and turn the flame down to medium. Drizzle some oil around the roti. Cook on medium flame till the roti is done on the bottom, then flip it over. Cook till done on the other side too, on medium flame. Transfer to a serving plate – serve hot with raita, pickle or any other accompaniment of your choice.

10. Prepare rotis from all the dough in a similar manner. Serve hot.

Left and Top right: Step 8, Bottom right: Step 9

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used whole wheat flour to make these Thepla, with a little gram flour added in. You may mix some millet flour like bajra or jowar atta.

2. Adjust the number of green chillies you use, depending upon personal spice preferences.

3. I have used green zucchini here, but you may use the yellow one instead too. There is no need to peel the zucchini.

4. Do not keep the dough out for too long before making the Thepla, as the high water content in the zucchini might make it very sticky. Prepare the Thepla as soon as you have the dough ready.

5. Sour curd tastes best in Thepla. Use thick curd so that the dough does not become too sticky.

6. You may skip the jaggery if you don’t prefer it, but I think it is an essential part of Thepla. It adds a lovely flavour to the Thepla.

7. You may skip the garlic if you don’t prefer using it.

8. Roll out the Thepla medium-thick. It needs to be thicker than a phulka roti, and thinner than a paratha.

9. Make sure the dough is soft and pliable, but not very sticky. It shouldn’t be too hard either. The liquid ingredients in the dough are enough to bind the dough, and no water is really water. However, if needed, you can use very little water. If the dough gets too sticky, adjust the consistency using a little wheat flour.

10. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to make the Thepla. Cook it evenly on both sides, on medium flame.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

Moru Sambar| No-Tamarind Sambar With Yogurt

Moru Sambar is an ancient dish from Tamilnadu, a variation to the regular sambar. Unlike the usual sambar, this one is made without any tamarind – buttermilk is used as the souring agent instead. Toor dal and vegetables go in too, just like in a sambar prepared the regular way. The flavour comes from freshly roasted and ground spices and coconut.

A closer look at the Moru Sambar

‘Moru’ is Tamil for ‘buttermilk’ and, hence, ‘Moru Sambar‘ refers to sambar made using watered-down yogurt. It is a delicious preparation, and makes for a nice change from the usual sambar and rasam varieties. It is different from Morekozhambu and More Kootu, two other heritage Tamilnadu dishes.

Moru Sambar is not a very difficult thing to put together at all. Here, I have shared my family recipe for this dish – it was my grandmother’s specialty, and the recipe below outlines the way she used to make it. Don’t be daunted by the length of the proceedure – I have merely tried to explain everything in detail so that the going is as easy as can be, for you guys.

A-Z Recipe Challenge


I am sharing this recipe for Moru Sambar in association with the A-Z Recipe Challenge.

The A-Z Recipe Challenge is undertaken by a group of passionate food bloggers. Every month, the participants showcase dishes that use ingredients in alphabetical order from A to Z. The letter for this month is Y, and I chose to put up this recipe that uses ‘yogurt’ as the central ingredient.

How to make Moru Sambar

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

To roast and grind:

1. 1/2 teaspoon oil

2. 1-1/2 tablespoon chana dal

3. 1-1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds

4. 4 dry red chillies or as per taste

5. A pinch of fenugreek seeds

6. 1/4 cup fresh coconut

Other ingredients:

1. 1/2 cup toor dal

2. 1 cup thick sour yogurt (curd)

3. 1 teaspoon rice flour

4. 12-15 okra (ladies’ finger)

5. 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon oil

6. Salt to taste

7. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

9. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)

10. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves

11. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

For the tempering:

1. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2. 2 pinches of asafoetida

3. 2-3 dry red chillies

4. A pinch of fenugreek seeds

Method:

1. Wash the toor dal thoroughly. Drain out all the water.

2. Pressure cook the washed and drained toor dal with enough water to cover it, for 7-8 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Cut off the tops of the okra. Then, chop them into 1-inch pieces.

4. Next, we will roast the ingredients required to make the spice paste for this dish. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chana dal, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds and dry red chillies. Roast on medium flame till the dal starts browning, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Now, keeping the flame at medium, add in the fresh coconut and roast for a minute more. Transfer all the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

5. Take the sour yogurt in a mixing bowl. Add in the rice flour and about 1/2 cup of water. Whisk well together. Keep aside.

6. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. The dal should be well cooked and soft, with no hardness to it. Mash the cooked toor dal well. Keep aside.

7. When all the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a small mixer jar. Grind everything together to a smooth paste, with a little water. Keep aside.

8. Now, we will start preparing the Moru Sambar. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in the same pan we used earlier. Add in the okra pieces and sprinkle a bit of salt over them. Turn the flame down to medium.

9. Cook the okra on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till they are completely cooked. They will shrivel and change colour.

10. Add the cooked toor dal to the pan at this stage, still keeping the flame at medium.

11. Also add in the spice paste we ground earlier. Mix well.

12. Add in the salt to taste and turmeric powder. Add red chilli powder if using.

13. Add in the curry leaves. Also add in about 1 cup of water or as needed.

14. Cook everything together on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the mixture thickens. Now, switch off gas and allow the mixture to cool down a bit – wait for 7-10 minutes.

15. With the flame still off, add the yogurt mixture to the pan. Stir constantly while adding it in.

16. Now, keep the pan on low-medium flame and let it get heated up. Stirring intermittently, wait for the mixture to come to a simmer, 4-5 minutes. Switch off gas after the mixture has simmered for about 2 minutes. The Moru Sambar is almost ready. Mix in the finely chopped coriander.

17. Lastly, we will prepare the tempering. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard and allow it to sputter. Add in the fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and dry red chillies. Let the ingredients stay in the hot oil for a couple of seconds, then pour the tempering onto the prepared Moru Sambar. It is now ready to serve – serve it hot with steamed rice and a poriyal of your choice.

Is this a vegan and gluten-free recipe?


This Moru Sambar is not vegan (plant-based) because of the use of dairy yogurt in it. The yogurt is an important component of the sambar, and cannot be missed. I have not tried making this with non-dairy yogurt, so not sure if that would work.

Because of the use of asafoetida, this is not a gluten-free dish either. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. To make this dish completely gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida that is used in the tempering. If you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely use it.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use yogurt prepared from full-fat milk for best results. Also, it’s best if the yogurt is sour. I have used home-made thick yogurt (aka curd) here.

2. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Moru Sambar that you require. Ideally, the Moru Sambar should be moderately thick – neither too watery nor too thick.

3. If the yogurt is not sour enough, you may add in a little tamarind paste. However, this is purely optional. If using tamarind paste, add it in along with the cooked toor dal and the spice paste.

4. I have used a mix of the not-so-spicy Bydagi dry red chillies and the hot Salem Gundu dry red chillies in the spice paste. Adjust the number of chillies you use as per personal taste preferences.

5. The red chilli powder is optional. Use it only if you feel the heat from the dry red chillies is not enough.

6. The yogurt, water and rice flour should be whisked well together. Do ensure this.

7. To prevent the yogurt mixture from splitting, please follow the steps exactly as stated above. Allow the mixture to cool down a little before adding the yogurt mixture to it with the gas switched off, stirring constantly. Then, heat it all up gently on a low flame.

8. I have used okra aka ladies’ finger here, to make the Moru Sambar. You may use other vegetables too – drumsticks and brinjals work really well.

9. Ghee can be used in the tempering, instead of the oil I have used here. However, stick to oil and don’t use ghee if you want the Moru Sambar to be vegan (plant-based).

10. Wheat flour can be used in the buttermilk, instead of the rice flour used in the above recipe. However, avoid using wheat flour – stick to rice flour – in case you want to keep the dish gluten-free.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Godhuma Dosai| Instant Wheat Flour Dosa

Godhuma Dosai refers to an instant dosa made using whole wheat flour. It does not require any fermentation and can be put together within minutes. This dosa is a great option for breakfast or a light dinner, when you don’t have anything planned.

In today’s post, I am going to share with you all our family recipe for Godhuma Dosai.

What goes into Godhuma Dosai?

Godhumaavu‘ or ‘Godhuma‘ is Tamil for ‘wheat flour’. Hence, ‘Godhuma Dosai‘, as stated above, is a dosa made using wheat flour.

This dosa is made in a similar way to Rava Dosa. Rice flour is mixed with wheat flour, along with finely chopped onions, green chillies and curry leaves. Curd and water are added in, as is a simple tempering of mustard seeds and asafoetida. The runny batter is then poured over a hot pan and cooked on both sides.

Godhuma Dosai turns out beautifully lacy and crispy when done right, and tastes super delicious. This is an instant dosa that you can prepare quite fast, though the technique might require a bit of practice.

Letter W for the A-Z Recipe Challenge

I’m sharing this recipe in association with the A-Z Recipe Challenge.

The A-Z Recipe Challenge is a group of enthusiastic food bloggers who cook dishes using ingredients in alphabetical order, every month. This month, we are using ingredients from the letter W.

I chose ‘wheat flour’ as my star ingredient for the month, and decided to showcase these Godhuma Dosai recipe using it.

How to make Godhuma Dosai or Instant Wheat Flour Dosa

Here is how we make them.

Ingredients (makes about 12 dosas):

  1. 1 cup wheat flour
  2. 3/4 cup rice flour
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1/4 cup thick curd
  5. 3 cups of water or as needed
  6. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  7. 2-3 green chillies
  8. 1 medium-sized onion
  9. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  10. 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida
  11. 1 teaspoon oil + more as needed to make the dosas
  12. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

Left top and bottom: Steps 1 and 2, Right top, centre and bottom: Steps 3, 4 and 5

1. Take the wheat flour and rice flour in a large vessel. Add in salt to taste.

2. Add in the curd.

3. Chop the onion, green chillies and curry leaves finely. Add to the vessel.

4. Add in the asafoetida and cumin seeds.

5. Add in enough water to bring the batter to a runny consistency. It should be quite liquid-y and free-flowing but not very watery. I used 3 cups of water. Mix everything together to make a lump-free batter. Check out the video below to get an idea of how the batter consistency should be.

6. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add this tempering to the batter too. Mix well.

7. Keep the batter aside, covered, for about 20 minutes. This helps the flours to soak in the flavours of the other ingredients.

8. When the batter has rested, heat a thick dosa pan on high flame. When the pan is nice and hot, turn the flame down to medium. Now we will start making the Godhuma Dosai. Pour a ladleful of the batter over the pan, then take a little more of the batter and pour into the gaps, sort of filling them up. Drizzle some oil all around the dosai. My video of Instant Ragi Onion Dosa above gives an idea of how to go about pouring the batter.

Left: Step 6, Top right: Step 8, Bottom right: Step 9

9. Let the dosai cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes, then gently loosen it using a spatula. Flip it over. Cook on the other side on medium flame for a couple of minutes too. Transfer the dosai to a serving plate. Serve hot, with Basic Coconut Chutney or this lovely Aati Kachina Thakkali Kozhambu.

10. Prepare dosai from all the batter in a similar manner.

Tips & Tricks

1. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the batter you require. Remember that the batter is supposed to be runny and free-flowing.

2. Adjust the amount of green chillies you use depending upon your personal taste preferences.

3. Do not use more than the specified amount of curd, otherwise the dosas might stick to the pan.

4. My mom makes these dosas on a regular iron pan, while I don’t seem to be able to do that. I prefer using a non-stick pan. I would suggest using a non-stick dosa pan, for best results.

5. The above proportions yield dosas that are nice and crunchy. However, if you want them very crispy, you may increase the amount of rice flour to 1 cup.

6. You may omit the onions, if you do not prefer using them.

7. Making these Godhuma Dosai requires a technique similar to Rava Dosai, patience, perseverance and practice. If you are a beginner at making these dosas, please do not give up – keep at it, and it does get better.

8. For best results, chop the onions, green chillies and curry leaves really fine. You may add in some finely chopped ginger too.

9. Use slightly sour curd, for best results.

10. Don’t miss out on letting the batter sit for about 20 minutes, after mixing. This helps the batter to soak in the flavours from all the ingredients.

11. Due to the use of wheat flour and asafoetida, this recipe is NOT gluten-free. There’s curd going in too, so this is NOT vegan or plant-based either.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Easy Verkadalai Ladu| Unsalted Peanut Laddoos

Peanuts are a powerhouse of nutrients, as we all know. They are so versatile too, lending their beautiful flavour to everything from lemon rice and chaat to ice cream. Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for a very simple but utterly delicious sweet treat made using peanuts – Verkadalai Ladu or Peanut Laddoos.
Verkadalai Ladu aka Peanut Laddoos


What goes into these Peanut Laddoos?


Like I was saying earlier, these Peanut Laddoos are super simple to put together, requiring the most minimal of ingredients.

First up, I have used unsalted peanuts in these laddoos, roasted till crisp. I have used jaggery powder for sweetening, and dry ginger powder (‘sukku podi‘ in Tamil) to add flavour to them. That’s about it – just three simple ingredients. Grind everything together and shape the laddoos, easy-peasy! The oil naturally releasing from the peanuts is enough to bind the laddoos, without the need for an agent like ghee or butter. There’s no need to make a jaggery syrup either, as is commonly required in case of laddoos. How much more simple can it get, eh? 🙂

Verkadalai Ladu or peanut laddoos made this way are not just very nutritious, but a guilt-free treat free of refined sugar. They are completely vegan too, suited to people following a plant-based diet. They are gluten-free as well.

I have shared another recipe for peanut laddoos on the blog earlier, made with coconut and sesame seeds. While those laddoos are extremely flavourful, this are a pared-down version that is loaded with taste too.

How to make Peanut Laddoos


Ingredients (makes 10-12 pieces):

1. 1 cup raw unsalted peanuts

2. 3/4 cup jaggery powder

3. 1 teaspoon dry ginger powder (sukku)

Method:

1. Take the peanuts in a heavy-bottomed  pan and place on high heat. Once the pan gets heated up, reduce the flame to medium. Dry roast the peanuts on medium flame till they become crisp, about 4 minutes. Take care to ensure that the peanuts do not burn.

2. Immediately switch the gas off and transfer the roasted peanuts to a plate. Allow them to cool down completely.

3. When completely cool, transfer the roasted peanuts to a mixer jar. Add in the jaggery powder and dry ginger powder. Grind for a couple of seconds, then stop to open the mixer jar and mix up the ingredients. Repeat this procedure a couple of times or till you get the mixture turns into a sand-like consistency.

4. Now, use your hands to shape balls out of the mixture, as big or small as you prefer. Your Peanut Laddoos are ready.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and centre: Step 3, Bottom right: Step 4

The A-Z Recipe Challenge


I’m sharing this recipe with the A-Z Recipe Challenge that I am part of.


The A-Z Recipe Challenge is run by a group of passionate food bloggers who cook using ingredients in alphabetical order, every month. The letter this month is U, wherein we are cooking using ingredients like unsalted nuts and butter, unsweetened cocoa powder and mawa. I chose to work with unsalted peanuts.

Tips & Tricks


1. I do not remove the skin of the roasted peanuts. You may do so, if you so prefer.
2. I have used store-bought jaggery powder here. It makes the process of making laddoos super easy.
3. The colour of the laddoos will depend upon the type of jaggery you use, the roasting of peanuts and whether or not the peanut skins are removed.
4. Take care to ensure that the peanuts do not burn, while roasting them.
5. Use a heavy-bottomed pan for roasting the peanuts, for best results.
6. Do allow the peanuts to cool down completely before beginning to grind them.
7. Do not grind the ingredients at a stretch. Remember to stop every couple of seconds to mix up the ingredients. This will stop the ingredients from clumping up together, which will affect the taste of the laddoos.
8. I have ground the ingredients to an almost-fine powder here. You may even coarsely pulse them, if you so prefer.
9. I have used store-bought dry ginger powder here. It adds a lovely flavour to the peanut laddoos. You may skip this ingredient if you so prefer, but I would definitely suggest not to.
10. If the mixture is too dry after grinding, you may add in some ghee to help with the shaping of laddoos. Avoid the ghee if you want to keep the laddoos vegan.
11. The prepared peanut laddoos can be stored in a clean, dry, air-tight box for up to 10 days.
12. You can grind the roasted peanuts separately, and then mix in the jaggery powder and dry ginger powder.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments. 






Pulikachal| Tamarind Paste For Rice

Pulikachal is a quintessential part of a Tam-Brahm kitchen, something that is almost always around. For the uninitiated, it refers to a paste made using tamarind and various spices. This paste is quite handy, as you will soon see.

Pulikachal or Puliogare Gojju

A closer look at the Pulikachal

Puli‘ is Tamil for ‘tamarind’, while ‘kachal‘ means ‘to boil’. ‘Pulikachal‘ thus means tamarind that has been boiled and reduced. Sesame oil, peanuts, several roasted and ground spices, jaggery and many other ingredients are added to the tamarind while it is reducing, and the end result is this delicious, delicious confection. Well-made Pulikachal is a thing of beauty, really.

Once prepared, Pulikachal can be stored for a couple of months at least. Mix this paste with some cooked and cooled rice and you have Puliogare or Puliodharai, aka ‘tamarind rice’, that staple of South Indian families while picnicking and travelling. It is also a saviour on those days when one does not want to indulge in elaborate cooking. Pulikachal also makes for a wonderful accompaniment to curd rice, another staple in the Tamilian kitchen. We also love having it with our idlis and dosas. We love it with toasted bread too! See just how multi-purpose this paste is?

Pulikachal is sometimes also called ‘Puliogare Gojju‘.

Variations to the Pulikachal

There are several different variations to the Pulikachal. Some versions use ginger and green chillies, while some have a generous amount of pepper added in. Some include coconut in it, while some add in a bit of mustard. Different states in South India make Pulikachal or Puliogare Gojju slightly differently.

Here, I have shared my family recipe for Pulikachal, the way we have always been making it. This is the Tamil Brahmin style of making it.

The A-Z Recipe Challenge

This recipe is brought to you in association with the A-Z Recipe Challenge.

The A-Z Recipe Challenge is undertaken by a group of passionate food bloggers who share use ingredients in alphabetical order from A-Z to develop recipes, one every month. The letter for this month is T, and I chose ‘tamarind’ as my star ingredient. I decided to share this tried and tested family recipe for the theme.

How to make Pulikachal

Here’s how we make Pulikachal.

Ingredients (yields about 1 cup):

To roast and grind:

  1. 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  2. 1/4 cup chana dal
  3. 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  4. 5-6 Salem Gundu dry red chillies
  5. 5-6 Bydagi dry red chillies
  6. 1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
  7. 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

Other ingredients:

  1. 1/2 tightly packed cup of tamarind
  2. 1/4 cup peanuts
  3. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  4. 2-3 dry red chillies
  5. 2 + 2 tablespoons of sesame oil
  6. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  7. 1/8 teaspoon asafoetida
  8. 2-1/2 teaspoons of salt or to taste
  9. 3 tablespoons jaggery powder
  10. 3/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water, for 15-20 minutes, for it to soften. Allow it to cool down enough to handle.

2. Measure out the ingredients required for roasting – coriander seeds, chana dal, fenugreek seeds, Salem Gundu dry red chillies and Bydagi dry red chillies. Measure out the black and white sesame seeds separately.

3. Wash the curry leaves well, to remove any traces of dirt on them. Dry them completely using a cotton cloth.

4. On a medium flame, dry roast the peanuts in a heavy-bottomed pan for 3-4 minutes or till they get crisp. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Transfer the roasted peanuts to a plate and allow them to cool down fully.

Top left and right: Step 1, Centre left and right: Step 2 and 3, Bottom left and right: Step 4

5. In the same pan, add in the chana dal and dry roast for about a minute on medium flame. Then, add in the coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds and both varieties of dry red chillies, and roast for 2-3 minutes or till the lentils get nice and brown. Now, add both types of sesame seeds to the pan, and turn the flame down to low. Let the sesame seeds sputter. Then transfer all the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down fully.

6. When the soaked tamarind has cooled down completely, extract all the juice from it. Add water little by little, to help with the extraction. Keep the extract a bit thick and not too watery.

7. When the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, grind them together to a powder. The powder should not be too fine, just slightly coarse.

Top left and right: Step 5, Bottom left and right: Steps 6 and 7

8. Now, we will start making the Pulikachal. Heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Then, add in the asafoetida, 2-3 dry red chillies, curry leaves and the roasted peanuts. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds.

9. Add the tamarind extract to the pan now, along with salt to taste and turmeric powder. Turn the flame down to medium. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind has completely gone.

10. Still keeping the flame at medium, add in the powder we ground earlier. Add it in while stirring constantly, so there are no lumps.

11. Add in the jaggery powder and mix well.

12. Continue to cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the mixture thickens. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas when it reaches a spreadable consistency.

13. At this stage, drizzle 2 tablespoons of sesame oil on top of the cooked paste. Mix well. Your Pulikachal is ready.

14. Allow the Pulikachal to cool down fully, then transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Store refrigerated and use as needed, with a clean and dry spoon.

Top left and right: Steps 8 and 9, Centre left and right: Steps 10 and 11, Bottom left, centre and right: Steps 12, 13 and 14

Tips & Tricks

1. The colour of the Pulikachal will depend upon the type of tamarind you use. Aged tamarind works best in this recipe.

2. Sesame oil – ‘nalla ennai‘ in Tamil – works best in this Pulikachal.

3. If the tamarind you use has seeds or impurities, filter the extract before you use it in making the Pulikachal.

4. Do not be intimidated by the long list of ingredients and the lengthy proceedure outlined above. The making of Pulikachal is an easy process, though one that requires a bit of patience. I have merely mentioned everything in great detail, to clearly explain the process to one and all.

5. Make sure the ingredients do not burn while dry-roasting. Let them cool down fully before grinding.

6. Do not grind the dry-roasted ingredients to a fine powder. Keep it a little coarse. This gives texture and more flavour to the Pulikachal.

7. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to make the Pulikachal, for best results.

8. Do not skip the jaggery powder. It makes the Pulikachal more flavourful.

9. I have used a mix of the more spicy Salem Gundu and the less hot Bydagi dry red chillies here. You can adjust the number of dry red chillies as per personal taste preferences.

10. The Pulikachal is supposed to be a bit high on sweetish, sour, salty and spicy tastes, on its own. When it is mixed with rice, the flavours even out.

11. Allow the Pulikachal to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry bottle. Stored refrigerated and used only with a clean, dry spoon, it lasts for at least a couple of months.

12. I have used a mix of white and black sesame seeds here. The black ones are slightly more concentrated in flavour and a bit more bitter than the white ones. You may use 2 tablespoons of either the white or black sesame seeds.

13. This Pulikachal recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

14. To make this Pulikachal gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, do go ahead and use it.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!