Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu| Lentil Balls In Tamarind Gravy

Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu is a traditional recipe from Tamilnadu. It refers to lentil balls cooked in a tamarind-based gravy. It is an absolutely delectable thing, especially blissful when mixed with some hot rice, drizzled with sesame oil (‘nalla ennai‘ in Tamil).

This is an interesting dish, full of flavours and textures. Just the right amount of sour, mildly sweet and spicy, Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu is a real treat to the tastebuds. The coarseness of the lentil balls contrasts beautifully with the smooth texture of the tamarind gravy. You must try it out to truly understand what loveliness this dish is!

Different families make different variations of the Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu. Today, I am about to share the way it is made in my house.

Delicious Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu

Looking for other heritage recipes from Tamilnadu? Check out this Vepampoo Pachadi, Elumicchaipazham (lemon) Rasam, Thavala Dosai, Vendhaya Dosai, Sigappu Keerai Kootu, Ezhu Thaan Kootu and Paal Payasam.

Ingredients used in Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu

The lentil balls here are made of chana dal. Unlike koftas or pakoras in gravy, though, these balls of lentils are steamed and not deep-fried.

The steamed balls are cooked further in a gravy made using tamarind. We use home-made sambar powder to spice it up, along with freshly ground coconut and a dash of jaggery.

Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu is quite similar to the Vattalkozhambu that we make, yet different in taste.

Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu recipe

Here’s how we make it.

Don’t be daunted by the long-winded recipe. It is fairly simple to follow. I have broken down the proceedure into sections, so it becomes easy to understand and replicate.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

1. 1/2 cup chana dal

2. 3 dry red chillies + 2 more for tempering

3. A small gooseberry-sized ball of tamarind

4. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander (optional)

5. Salt to taste

6. 1 tablespoon sesame oil

7. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

8. 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

9. 1 sprig curry leaves

10. 2 pinches of asafoetida

11. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

12. 1 tablespoon sambar powder or to taste

13. Red chilli powder as needed (optional)

14. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or as needed

15. 3 tablespoons fresh coconut pieces

Method:

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left and centre: Step 4, Bottom right: Step 5

We will begin by doing some basic prep work needed for the Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu.

1. Wash the chana dal well under running water. Drain out all the water.

2. Soak the washed and drained chana dal and 3 dry red chillies in enough water to cover the lentils completely, for 2-3 hours.

3. In the meantime, soak the tamarind in some boiling hot water to soften it. Allow it to cool down enough to handle.

4. When the chana dal and dry red chillies have soaked, drain out all the residual water from them. Break up the dry red chillies roughly with your hands. Transfer the drained chana dal and broken dry red chillies to a mixer jar. Grind these together coarsely, without adding any water.

5. Transfer the coarsely ground mixture to a mixing bowl. Add in salt to taste and finely chopped coriander (if using). Mix everything well together.

Top left: Step 6, Top centre and right: Step 7, Below top right: Step 8, Bottom left: The lentil balls, after steaming, Bottom centre and right: Step 9

Next we will prepare the lentil balls and do some more prep work.

6. Keep water in a steamer and place it on high flame. Let the water come to a boil.

7. When the steamer is ready, make small balls out of the lentil mixture. Place the balls in the steamer. Steam on high flame for about 12 minutes. Switch off gas.

8. When the tamarind has cooled down enough, extract all the juice from it. You can add more water as needed to help with the extraction, but don’t make the extract too watery. I had about 1 cup of semi-thick tamarind extract.

9. Take the coconut in a small mixer jar, along with a little water. Grind together to a mostly smooth, slightly coarse paste.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 10, 11 and 12, Below top right: Step 13, Bottom right: Step 14, Bottom left and centre: Step 15

Now, we will start preparing the Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu.

10. Heat the sesame oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard, and allow it to sputter. Then add in the asafoetida, fenugreek, curry leaves and 2 dry red chillies for the tempering. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds, without burning.

11. At this stage, add the tamarind extract to the pan. Mix well.

12. Add a little salt and the turmeric powder. Mix and cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind has gone completely.

13. Add in about 1-1/2 cups of water, or as needed to adjust the consistency of the gravy. It should be slightly watery at this stage – the gravy will thicken up later as the lentil balls cook in it.

14. Add sambar powder and red chilli powder, if needed. Mix well.

15. Mix in the jaggery powder. Taste and adjust salt, red chilli powder, sambar powder, jaggery and/or water as needed. At this stage, the mixture should taste tangy (but not overly so), fragrant from the sambar powder, as spicy as you want it, and mildly sweet.

Top left and right: Steps 16 and 17, Below top right: Step 18, Bottom right: Step 19, Bottom left: Step 20

Now, we will cook the lentil balls in the gravy.

16. Continue to keep the flame at medium. Add the steamed lentil balls to the pan, gently.

17. Let the balls cook in the tamarind gravy for 7-8 minutes on medium flame. By this time, the gravy would have started to thicken and the lentil balls would have been cooked and floating on the surface.

18. At this stage, add the coconut paste to the pan, constantly stirring with one hand. The flame should still be at medium. Mix gently.

19. Cook the mixture for a minute or so more, on medium flame. Switch off gas. The Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu is ready. Keep it slightly runny at this stage – it will thicken up further with time.

20. Serve the Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu when warm, along with rice and sesame oil.

Is this recipe vegan and gluten-free?

Many South Indian dishes are inherently vegan, like this one. There are no animal products used in this dish, thus making it suitable for those following a vegan (plant-based) diet.

If you want to make this Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu gluten-free, skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. The sambar powder I use contains asafoetida – you need to make sure you use one without. Most commercially available Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour to some extent, and it is therefore better to avoid the same when one is following a gluten-free diet.

This is a no-onion no-garlic recipe too.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I’m part of this wonderful group of food bloggers called the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, and am sharing this recipe in association with the same.

The members of the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge showcase recipes based on a pre-determined theme, each month. The theme this month is ‘Vegan Dishes’, chosen by Radha of Magical Ingredients. She prepared this divine Vegan Jackfruit Kofta Curry for the challenge.

The group members are divided into pairs for the challenge. Each pair decides upon two secret ingredients which they will use to make their dish of the month. A picture of the completed dish is posted in the group, and all the other members try to guess the two secret ingredients each pair has used.

My partner for the month was Rafeeda of The Big Sweet Tooth. Rafeeda suggested I use the ingredients ‘curry leaves’ and ‘coconut’, and I decided to make this vegan Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu. Rafeeda made this amazing-looking dessert, Mango Bango, using the two secret ingredients of ‘coconut milk’ and ‘sugar’ that I gave her.

Tips & Tricks

1. Some families use a mix of chana dal and toor dal to make the lentil balls. We use only chana dal.

2. The use of red chilli powder is completely optional. If the sambar powder you are using is spicy enough, you can omit the red chilli powder completely.

3. Adjust the quantity of water depending upon how thick you want the Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu to be. It might initially look watery, but tends to thicken up with time.

4. I have used a steamer to cook the lentil balls. You could also do the same in an idli steamer.

5. Do not grind the chana dal into a fine paste. For best results, it needs to be coarsely ground. Do not add any water while grinding.

6. Adjust the quantity of tamarind as per personal taste preferences. A small lemon-sized ball of Double Horse tamarind (which is quite sour) works perfectly for us.

7. Don’t miss the jaggery. It doesn’t make the Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu overly sweet, but rounds off the other flavours beautifully.

8. Do not overcook the lentil balls, or they tend to become hard. Steaming for about 12 minutes and then cooking in the tamarind gravy for 7-8 minutes is good.

9. Ensure that you keep the flame at medium while adding the coconut paste and stir constantly, so that it gets mixed evenly into the tamarind gravy.

10. You may drizzle some sesame oil over the Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu, once it’s ready. This takes the flavour quotient up by several notches.

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

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Vella Payasam| Rice Kheer With Jaggery

Happy, happy new year, people! I hope you had a lovely holiday season. 🙂 We sure did, and I’m now finding it so tough to get back to my regular routine! Anyhow, I’m here to tell you about this lovely Vella Payasam we enjoyed for New Year’s Eve.

Payasam or kheer is somewhat of a staple in our house on every festive occasion. Figures, because it is such an easy dessert to put together and you can have so many varieties! Vella Payasam – or Rice Kheer with jaggery (‘vellam‘ is Tamil for ‘jaggery’) – is one of our favourite types. I’m going to show you exactly how we make it at home, in this post. Do make it this festive season and share your feedback!

Most kheer varieties we prepare use sugar. The jaggery used in this Vella Payasam gives it a unique colour and taste. I use powdered organic country (Nati) jaggery which has a dark brown colour. You can use any other type of jaggery you prefer in the same recipe – Nolen Gur (liquid date palm jaggery from Bengal) or Karupatti (blackish palm jaggery from Tamilnadu) make for wonderful substitutes.

Vella Payasam or Rice Kheer With Jaggery

Other kheer varieties on the blog

There are quite a few different versions of kheer on my blog. You might be interested in checking them out:

What goes into Vella Payasam?

This is a very easy payasam to make, requiring only a handful of ingredients. In fact, there are just 5 basic ingredients that are used in this recipe – full-fat milk, ghee, rice, jaggery and cardamom powder!

We prefer keeping this kheer very simple, and do not use raisins or nuts. You could, if you want to, but there’s really no need – the flavours of the jaggery and thickened milk together make this a very special dessert as it is.

It is quite common for milk to curdle when jaggery is added to it. However, there’s a technique to prevent that from happening while making Vella Payasam – read on to know!

How to make Vella Payasam

Here’s how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

1. 1/2 tablespoon ghee

2. 2 tablespoons rice

3. 1 litre full-fat milk

4. 1/3 cup jaggery powder or to taste

5. 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (elaichi) powder

Method:

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

1. Wash the rice well under running water. Drain out all the water from it, then place it on a cotton kitchen towel and rub out all the moisture.

2. Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the rice. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute for about 2 minutes on medium flame or till the grains of rice puff up slightly.

3. At this stage, add in the milk to the pan. Mix well.

4. Still keeping the flame at medium, allow the milk to come to a rolling boil. Reduce flame to low-medium now.

Top left, top right and below: Step 5, Bottom right and left: Step 6

5. Allow the milk to cook on low-medium flame till the grains of rice turn soft and break between your fingers, as shown in the picture above. This might take 30-45 minutes. Keep stirring intermittently, scraping down the cream that forms on the sides of the pan back into the milk. By the end of 30-45 minutes, the milk would have thickened considerably. Switch off gas at this stage.

6. Allow the milk to cool down till it is slightly more than lukewarm in temperature. Now, add in the jaggery powder and cardamom powder. Mix well. Do not add the jaggery while the milk is still hot – this can cause curdling.

Your Vella Payasam is ready – serve it warm or at room temperature.

Related event: Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I’m sharing this recipe in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a group of food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every month. The participants are divided into pairs, and each pair secretly exchanges two ingredients, unknown to the rest of the group. These two ingredients are used by each pair to prepare a dish that fits into the theme of the month. Looking at a picture of the finished dish, the group members try to guess the two secret ingredients that each pair has used.

The theme for December 2022 was ‘festive foods’, which was suggested by Priya Vijayakrishnan of Sweet Spicy Tasty.

I was paired with Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds for the theme. I suggested she use ‘asafoetida’ and ‘ginger’ as her secret ingredients, and she did so beautifully in this Tri-Colour Quinoa Pongal. Kalyani gave me ‘milk’ and ‘rice’ to work with, and I chose to use them in this family favourite Vella Payasam recipe.

Tips & Tricks

1. Always use a heavy-bottomed pan to make this payasam.

2. We use Sona Masoori rice to make this Vella Payasam. Basmati, Kollam and Gobindobhog rice are some other substitutes which work well too.

3. Jaggery powder is nothing but powdered jaggery, commonly available in several departmental stores. This melts easily, and is perfect for making the Vella Payasam. I have used the Nati variety, which has a dark brown colour. If you are using regular jaggery blocks, make sure it is well chopped before adding it to the milk. Adjust the quantity of jaggery as per taste.

4. Full-fat milk is an absolute must, for a rich and creamy payasam.

5. It is very important to allow the milk to cool down before you add in the jaggery. If you do not allow time for this, the milk might split when the jaggery is mixed in.

6. The right consistency of the milk mixture when the flame is switched off is thick and creamy, but still runny. Remember that it thickens up further with time. If the mixture has become very thick at this stage, add in some more full-fat milk as needed and cook for 7-8 minutes.

7. Do not vigorously heat the Vella Payasam after the jaggery has been added in. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

8. Keep checking on the rice intermittently while the milk is cooking. The grains of rice should break between your fingers when done.

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

Samusa Thote|Burmese Samosa Salad

Samusa Thote, a popular street food from Myanmar, refers to a scrumptious salad made using samosas. Yes, you read that right! If all salads tasted like Samusa Thote, I doubt anyone would crib about eating them! 🙂

I have never been to Burma, or Myanmar as it is called now. My first brush with the country’s cuisine was at Burma Burma in Bangalore, a few years ago. It was love at first bite for me with Samusa Thote, the salad bursting with flavours and layered textures – think crunchy cabbage and cucumber, bits of deep-fried potato samosas, tamarind chutney, fresh mint and coriander, chilli and browned garlic. What’s to not love, eh?

In today’s blog post, let me take you through the process of making Samusa Thote or Burmese Samosa Salad.

Samusa Thote or Burmese Samosa Salad

An introduction to Burmese cuisine

The food in Myanmar has influences from neighbouring countries like India, China and Thailand, but the country has a distinct cuisine all of its own. Burmese cuisine is flavourful, beautifully layered with complex tastes and textures. Soups and salads are an important part of eating in Myanmar – there are so many different types, it’s unimaginable! I have been reading up about Burmese cuisine lately, and have seriously been dumbfounded.

Some classic dishes from the Burmese cuisine are Laphet Thoke (salad made using tea leaves), Mohinga (thin rice noodles served with broth), Khao Suey (noodles in a curried coconut milk broth), Tofu Nway (tofu made with chickpeas, served in a warm broth), Gyin Thoke (salad made with pickled ginger, legumes, fried garlic and sesame seeds), Danbauk (Burmese-style biryani), Sarbutee (soup made using dried maize) and Htamin Let Thoke (a hand-tossed salad made using rice, vermicelli, fried onions and garlic, tamarind paste and other ingredients).

The street food culture is big in Myanmar, from what I understand. There’s a plethora of food choices available on the streets, delicious and inexpensive at that. Samusa Thote is a hugely popular street food, with vendors selling take-aways in plastic bags off carts by the roadside.

If Burmese cuisine interests you, you must definitely check out my recipe for Vegetarian Khao Suey. This happens to be one of the most tried out and beloved recipes from my blog.

What goes into Samusa Thote

Like I was saying earlier, Samusa Thote is a salad made using samosas. Samosas are, therefore, the main ingredient of this dish. I’m not sure how different Indian samosas are from the Burmese version – I have used the former here. I find that big, fat Punjabi samosas with a potato filling work best in this salad. I buy them ready-made from a farsan store near my place.

The crunch factor in this salad comes from fresh cabbage, onions and cucumber. Garlic is lightly browned in oil and added in, for flavour. A handful of mint and coriander goes in too, which takes the flavour quotient up by several notches. A teeny amount of roasted gram flour is added for a nutty flavour and interesting texture. Thickened tamarind extract acts as the dressing – I have used the tamarind chutney that we usually use in chaats. A dash of red chilli powder spices things up, and a bit of lemon juice evens out the other tastes.

My way of making Samusa Thote is inspired by the recipe from Burma Superstar: Addictive Recipes From The Crossroads Of Southeast Asia, a cookbook by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy. I have made minor tweaks to the original recipe, using ingredients and techniques that are familiar to me. I am not claiming that this is a 100% authentic recipe, but I can definitely tell you that the end result is completely delicious. Try it out for yourself!

How to make Samusa Thote or Burmese Samosa Salad

Once you have all the ingredients at hand, Samusa Thote is a rather easy thing to put together. Here is how I make it.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

1. 2 big potato samosas, store-bought

2. 3 heaped teaspoons gram flour (besan)

3. 5 garlic cloves

4. 1 tablespoon oil

5. 1/4 cup finely chopped cabbage

6. 1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber

7. 1/4 cup finely chopped onion

8. A handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

9. A handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

10. Salt to taste

11. Red chilli powder to taste

12. 3-4 tablespoons of sweet-sour tamarind chutney or as needed

13. A dash of lemon juice or as needed (optional)

Method:

Left top and bottom: Step 1, Top right, centre and bottom: Steps 2, 3 and 4

1. Take the gram flour in a small pan and place on medium heat. Roast on medium flame till the gram flour turns aromatic, 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow it to cool down.

2. Peel the garlic cloves and chop roughly. Keep ready.

3. Take the finely chopped onion, cabbage, cucumber, mint and coriander leaves in a large mixing bowl.

4. Add salt and red chilli powder to taste, to the mixing bowl.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom left: Step 7, Right centre and bottom: Steps 8 and 9

5. Add the roasted gram flour to the mixing bowl.

6. Cut up the samosas roughly and add them to the mixing bowl too.

7. Heat the oil in a small tempering pan, then add in the chopped garlic. Turn the flame down to medium. Allow the garlic to turn a light golden brown, ensuring that it doesn’t burn. Add the browned garlic and the oil to the mixing bowl.

8. Add in the tamarind chutney to taste. Mix gently.

9. Taste and add lemon juice or more tamarind chutney if needed. Mix. Your Burmese Samosa Salad is ready. Serve immediately.

Related event: The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

This recipe is brought to you in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a fun activity run by a group of passionate food bloggers. The bloggers showcase recipes based on an interesting theme, every month.

The participants are grouped into pairs, and each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, unknown to the rest of the group. Each participant then uses the two secret ingredients assigned to them to prepare a recipe befitting the theme of the month. A picture of each completed dish is then shared in the group by each participant, and members try to guess the two secret ingredients.

The theme for the month of November was ‘World Street Food’, suggested by Preethi, author of the lovely food blog Preethi’s Cuisine. For the theme, Preethi prepared Firi Firi, these beautiful Tahitian coconut-flavoured donuts.

I was paired with Sasmita of First Timer Cook for the month, who suggested I make something using ‘onion’ and ‘cabbage’. I decided to share one of my all-time favourite street food recipes – Burmese Samosa Salad – for the theme. Sasmita prepared these delicious Dessert Quesadillas using ‘Nutella’ and ‘strawberries’, which were the two secret ingredients I suggested to her.

Dietary guidelines

This is a completely vegetarian recipe. You can use samosas with a non-vegetarian filling too, if you prefer.

This recipe is vegan, suited to people following a plant-based diet.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used store-bought potato samosas here. You can make your own at home, too.

2. You can use samosas with any type of filling, as you prefer. From potatoes and peas to lamb, any type of samosas work. I prefer using large Punjabi samosas with potato filling.

3. I have used the tamarind chutney we prepare for chaats, here. I usually prepare a batch of the chutney, refrigerate it, and use it as needed. Use as per personal taste preferences.

4. Finely chopped green chillies can be used in addition to or in place of the red chilli powder I have used here. I prefer using red chilli powder to taste.

5. Soaked and cooked chickpeas (kabuli chana), finely chopped tomatoes, fried onions, grated raw mango and carrot are some other possible additions to this Burmese Samosa Salad. I usually do not add these ingredients, but keep it simple the way I have shared above.

6. You may use more or less vegetables in your Samusa Thote, as per personal preferences. I usually add lots of veggies. You may use purple cabbage (instead of the green I have used here), for a pop of colour.

7. Make sure the garlic does not get overly burnt while frying it. At the same time, it shouldn’t stay raw either.

8. Using lemon is optional. If the sourness from the tamarind is enough, you can skip the lemon juice entirely.

9. Use the ‘seedless’ variety of cucumber, also called ‘English cucumber’, for best results.

10. You can chop the veggies finely or into long slivers, as you prefer. I prefer chopping them finely.

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

Carrot Soup With Coconut Milk

If you are looking for ways to include more carrots in your diet, you should definitely consider this Carrot Soup. Made with coconut milk, it is creamy, hearty and satisfying without being overwhelmingly heavy. And, yes, it does taste absolutely delicious!

Let me share with you all the way I prepare this Carrot Soup With Coconut Milk.

Carrot Soup With Coconut Milk – isn’t that colour simply gorgeous?!

Other soup recipes on the blog

Bangalore is turning chilly these days, providing us the perfect foil to gorge on soups of different kinds. You might want to take a look at some of our favourite soup recipes on the blog.

What goes into this Carrot Soup?

The major ingredient used in this soup is, of course, carrots. I have used the orange-coloured carrots that are popularly called ‘Ooty carrots’ in South India. I have also used some onion and garlic to add more flavour to the soup.

Coconut milk has been used to make the soup more hearty and more delicious. I have used store-bought thick coconut milk here, but you can also make your own at home.

I have used freshly crushed black pepper and dried Italian herbs to season it. I have added in some jaggery, not a common ingredient in soup, because I love the way it rounds off the other flavours beautifully.

How to make Carrot Soup With Coconut Milk

This soup is very simple to put together. Once you have the ingredients ready, the soup can be prepared in about 20 minutes.

Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

1. 1 small onion

2. 4-5 cloves of garlic

3. 4 medium-sized Ooty carrots, about 1-1/2 cups when chopped

4. 1 teaspoon oil

5. Salt to taste

6. Coarsely crushed black pepper to taste

7. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery or to taste

8. About 3/4 cup of thick coconut milk or to taste

9. A dash of dried Italian herbs

For garnish:

1. Coriander sprigs, as needed (optional)

2. Carrot slices cut into flowers, as needed (optional)

Method:

Top left: Step 1, Top right and below: Steps 2 and 3, Bottom right: Step 4, Bottom left: Step 5

1. First, prep the vegetables we will need to make the soup. Peel the onion, carrot, ginger and garlic cloves. Chop all the veggies finely.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add in the ginger and garlic. Reduce flame to medium and saute for about a minute.

3. Add in the chopped onion at this stage. Saute on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the onion starts turning brown.

4. At this stage, add in the chopped carrots, along with a little salt and water. Mix well.

5. Cook on medium flame for 6-7 minutes or till the carrots are done. Stir intermittently, sprinkling a little more water if needed. Cook till all the water evaporates and the vegetables are slightly burnt – this brings out a beautiful flavour. However, take care not to burn the veggies too much. Switch off gas when done and allow to cool down completely.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 6, 7 and 8, Below top right: Step 9, Bottom right, centre and left: Steps 10, 11 and 12

6. When completely cool, transfer all the cooked vegetables to a mixer jar. Add about 1/2 cup of water. Grind everything together to a smooth paste.

7. Transfer the ground paste to the same pan we used earlier. Place on high flame. Add about 1-1/2 cups of water or as needed to adjust the consistency of the soup.

8. Add salt to taste and the jaggery powder. Mix well.

9. Add in the coarsely crushed black pepper. Mix well. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce flame to medium.

10. Add in the coconut milk at this stage. Mix well.

11. Let the mixture simmer for 3-4 minutes, then switch off gas.

12. Mix in the dried Italian herbs. Your Carrot Soup With Coconut Milk is ready. Pour into  bowls and serve hot.

Dietary guidelines

This soup is completely vegetarian and vegan. It can be consumed by people following a vegan (plant-based) diet.

It is a gluten-free soup as well.

Related event: The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group of passionate food bloggers that I am part of.

The members of the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every month. The group members are divided into pairs, and each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, unknown to the rest of the participants. These secret ingredients are then used by each pair to prepare a dish that fits into the theme for the month. Once each participant is ready with their dish, the other group members try to guess the ingredients that have gone into them.

In the month of October, it was my turn to suggest the theme. I chose for the group to make soups, considering winter is setting in in most parts of India. My partner for the month was Anu, who blogs at Ente Thattukada. She prepared this lovely Broccoli Zucchini Soup using the two secret ingredients (‘pepper’ and ‘onion’) I suggested she work with. In turn, she assigned me the ingredients ‘garlic’ and ‘coconut milk’, both of which I used to make this Carrot Soup.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used the orange carrots that are commonly called ‘Ooty carrots’. You can use any variety of carrots you prefer.

2. I have used store-bought coconut milk here. You can make your own at home, too.

3. You may skip the jaggery if you don’t prefer using it. Sugar may be used instead, too.

4. Adjust the quantity of pepper as per personal taste preferences. You may use white pepper instead of the black pepper I have used here.

5. Adjust the quantity of water you use depending upon how thick you want the soup to be.

6. For best results, use very fresh and tender carrots, especially when in season.

7. You may add a dollop of cream to the soup once it’s done. I haven’t used any here.

8. You can use boiled and cooled milk instead of the coconut milk I have used here.

9. A dash of lemon juice can be added to the soup once it is done cooking. Here, I have not used any.

10. Cook the garlic, onion and carrots till slightly burnt and caramelised, as this brings out the flavours of the veggies best. However, do take care to ensure that the vegetables do not get overly burnt.

11. You can oven-roast the veggies instead of cooking them in a pan, the way I have done here.

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

Nam Jim| Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

Nam Jim‘ is Thai for dipping sauce, of which there are many, many versions. There are several types of dipping sauces prepared in Thailand, to go with grilled meat, seafood, chicken, vegetables, hot pot and satay. Though most of these sauces are a mix of hot and sweet, salty and sour, there are variations in the ingredients and techniques used. Today, I am going to share with you all my recipe for a Thai-style dipping sauce – a sweet red chilli sauce.

This Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce is inspired by memories of our holidays in Thailand, what I have learnt of the cuisine by observing and doing. It might not be the most authentic Nam Jim recipe, but I can assure you that it tastes absolutely delicious. This is a sweetish, moderately spicy and sour sauce that goes beautifully with most fried snacks, including samosas, spring rolls, cigars, cheese poppers and pakoras. Try it out, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Nam Jim, Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

A note on the ingredients used

Several Thai dipping sauces contain shrimp paste and/or oyster or fish sauce. However, this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce is completely vegetarian, made using ingredients commonly available here in Bangalore. It is a vegan (plant-based) and gluten-free sauce, too.

I have used moderately spicy red Fresno chillies to make this sauce, along with tomato to give it more body and flavour. Some ginger and garlic go in, too. Sugar has been used to sweeten the sauce, and a mix of tamarind extract and white vinegar to sour it. There is no corn flour or other thickening agent used.

This Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce is not fermented, as many sauces are. It is an instant sauce, one that can be used immediately after preparation, though I believe the flavours intensify after a day or so of the making.

Red Fresno chillies, which I have used to make this sauce

Other sauce and dip recipes on my blog

You might want to take a look at the other recipes for sauces and dips on my blog:

Nam Jim or Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce recipe

Here’s how to go about it.

Ingredients (makes about 1-1/2 cups):

1. A small piece of tamarind

2. 250 grams of red Fresno chillies

3. A 1-inch piece of ginger

4. 6-8 cloves of garlic

5. 1 medium-sized tomato

6. 1 teaspoon oil

7. Salt to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon

8. 1 cup sugar or to taste

9. 1/8 cup white vinegar or to taste

Method:

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Below top right: Step 4, Bottom right: Step 5, Bottom centre and left: Step 6

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water, so as to soften it. Allow it to cool down enough to handle.

2. In the meantime, remove the tops from the Fresno chillies and chop them roughly, including the seeds. Chop the tomato roughly. Peel the ginger and garlic, and chop them up too.

3. When the tamarind has cooled down, squeeze out all the juice from it. Use water as needed to help with the extraction. I had a little less than 1/2 cup of extract.

4. Now, we will start making the Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the chopped ginger and garlic. Saute for about a minute.

5. Add in the chopped tomato at this stage. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute till the tomatoes turn mushy, 3-4 minutes.

6. Now add in the chopped Fresno chillies and a little salt. Cook on medium flame for 5-6 minutes or till the chillies are almost done.

Top left and right: Step 7, Centre left and right: Steps 8 and 9, Bottom left and right: Step 10

7. Add the tamarind extract to the pan. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind is gone and the chillies are cooked. Considering that the skin of Fresno chillies is quite thick, they might not turn completely soft – just make sure they are not raw. Turn the flame down to low at this stage.

8. Add in the sugar and salt to taste. Mix well. Let the sugar get completely dissolved, which should take about 2 minutes. Switch off gas.

9. Mix in the white vinegar.

10. Allow the mixture to cool down completely, then transfer it to a mixer jar. Grind to a smooth puree. Let it settle for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Keep the Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce refrigerated and use as needed with a clean, dry spoon.

Related event: Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

This recipe is brought to you in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group of passionate food bloggers that I am part of.

For the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, we participants post every month, based on a pre-determined theme. The participants are paired together, and every pair exchanges two ingredients secretly without the knowledge of the rest of the group. These secret ingredients are used by each participant to create a dish that fits into the theme of the month. A picture of each dish is then shared in the group, and the members try to guess the two secret ingredients that went into it.

The theme for September 2022 was ‘Chutneys and Condiments’, suggested by Preethi of Cakes & Curries. You guys have to check out the gorgeous Onion Jam she has prepared for the theme!

I was paired with Renu, the author of Cook With Renu, for the month. I suggested that Renu make a condiment using ginger and salt, and she came up with a unique recipe for Pickled Nasturtium Seeds – head to her blog to read the detailed proceedure! She assigned to me the secret ingredients of ‘tamarind’ and ‘garlic’, and I used them to make this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Tips & Tricks

1. You can use any variety of red chillies you prefer – adjust the quantity depending upon how hot they are. If they are too hot, you might want to remove the seeds before using them in the sauce. Adjust the quantities of other ingredients according to the spice level of the red chillies.

2. I prefer using red Fresno chillies (commonly available at Namdhari’s) as they are moderately hot and perfectly suited to our tastebuds. I do not remove the seeds. I do not need to wear gloves, but you might want to.

3. The tomato balances out the heat of the chillies and gives some body to the sauce. I use Nati (country) tomatoes for this purpose. Do not use too many tomatoes, which will make the sauce taste like tomato ketchup.

4. Adjust the quantity of tamarind as per personal taste preferences. Using white vinegar in addition to the tamarind gives the sauce just the right amount of acidity, fragrance and flavour. This also helps to retain the beautiful red colour of the chillies – using too much tamarind might darken the sauce.

5. Regular granulated sugar goes best in this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce, but you may use jaggery or coconut sugar instead. Adjust as per taste.

6. I prefer grinding the sauce smooth, but you can keep it chunky if you so prefer.

7. You may add some onion and/or lemongrass to give more flavour to the sauce. I typically don’t.

8. When bottled and refrigerated, this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce stays for up to a month. However, since it is made without any preservatives, it is better used sooner rather than later.

9. You may pass the sauce through a strainer before bottling it, but I prefer not to.

10. You can grind the chillies, ginger, garlic and tomato first and then cook the mixture to a sauce. However, I prefer doing it the way I have outlined above.

11. This sauce turns out quite thick, and does not need any thickening agent like cornflour. If you want to use it as a dipping sauce, take a small quantity in a bowl and dilute it with water as needed.

12. The flavours of this sauce intensify about a day after it is made. So, it is best prepared at least 24 hours before it is supposed to be used.

13. Be very careful while salting the sauce. Ideally, this sauce is supposed to be sweet and moderately spicy, with just a little salt to balance it out. About 1/2 teaspoon of salt in total should be good.

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