A typical recipe from the Tamil heartlands, this is a hearty, though slightly spicy and sour stew which goes very well with rice. This is not a typical tambram recipe. It’s quite funny that while I love garlic and love it in most north Indian sabzis, for some reason, probably due to my tambram genes, I can’t stand it in typical south Indian food. While the original recipe calls for whole garlic pods in the kozambu or stew, I ground it along with the other spices. I served it with brown rice and a stir fried vegetable and loved it. Here’s the recipe which I tweaked!
Vendakkai Puli Kozambu aka Okra Tamarind Stew
- 1 lime-sized ball of tamarind, soaked in warm water for 15-20 minutes, then squeezed to get the water, which will be used. Alternatively, use 1-2 tsp of tamarind paste which can be brought in any Indian store.
- 1 cup ladies finger or okra, cut into 1 inch circles
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 tbsps gingelly oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- Salt to taste
To be ground into a paste:
- 8-10 garlic cloves
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 5-6 dried red chillies
- 1/4 cup coconut
- 2 tsps oil
- In a pan, take the oil (not the gingelly oil) and fry in the following order the spices: coriander seeds, fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds and dried chilli. Stir each spice for a few seconds before adding the next spice.
- Next add the garlic and let it become slightly golden, then the onions and let it become translucent and last the tomatoes.
- Add a tsp of salt to help the tomatoes to lose water and become slight mushy. In the end, add the coconut and let it cook a while. Once it has cooked around five minutes, switch off the gas and let it cool completely. Once cool, blend it to a fine paste.
- In another pan, add the gingelly oil and fry the ladies finger/okra until it cooks and becomes crisp. Remove from the gas and keep aside.
- In the same pan, with the balance oil, add the mustard seeds and then chopped onions.
- When the onions become translucent, put in the blended paste and stir for a few seconds. Now add the tamarind juice and let it come to a boil.
- Add the crisp ladies finger/okra and salt to taste and let the stew boil for 10 minutes.
- The stew is done when the oil floats to the top.
- Enjoy with rice and a vegetable of your choice!