Recipes: Thalagam Kozambu

Earlier this week was the festival of Thiruvathirai which is mostly celebrated in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. I decided, for the first time, to make this dish which is only made for this festival.

This dish is a traditional dish of the brahmins who come from the Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu (of which I am also a part of from my parents) and is something I’ve always grown up with, but never actually made.

It is traditionally eaten with a sweet rice dish called kali, but I decided to pair with Ven Pongal. I also didn’t have all the vegetables traditionally used for this dish, so I improvised!

Talaga Kozambu


  • 1 small lime-sized ball of tamarind, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and the juice squeezed out
  • 1 carrot, chopped into big pieces
  • 1 radish, chopped into big pieces
  • 2 large potatoes, chopped into big pieces
  • 2 raw bananas, chopped into large pieces
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

To be ground into a paste

  • 6 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp toor dal
  • 2 tsp white sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 tbsp oil

To temper

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder


  • Heat oil in a pan and put in the red chillies, toor dal and sesame seeds and stir.
  • When the dal turns light brown, add the grated coconut and continuously stir until the coconut is crisp and brown. Ensure the coconut does not burn.
  • Let it cool completely and blend this into a fine paste with water.
  • Wash the vegetables and put them in the same pan. Add just enough water to cover and then the turmeric powder and some salt. Cover and cook until the vegetables are half cooked.
  • When the vegetables are half cooked, pour in the tamarind juice and cover and cook for approximately 5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
  • Next, add the blended masala and stir well. Check and add salt if needed. Remove from the flame around five minutes after it comes to a rolling boil.
  • In a smaller pan, heat the ghee and put in the mustard seeds, fenugreek/methi seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. When the curry leaves become crisp, remove from the flame and pour over the Kozambu.
  • Enjoy with any rice of your choice through the traditional accompaniment is kali


The traditional vegetables used are raw banana, ash gourd, yellow/orange pumpkin, yam, brinjal/aubergine, broad beans, sweet potato, potatoes, radish, etc.


Recipes: Suran Matar

So after we made the Eriseri, we still had around half a yam and was wondering what to do with it when R suggested a dish they make in their village. R comes from a village in the northern part of India and this recipe is an earthy, rustic one.

Suran Matar


  • 1 cup elephants foot or yam, peeled and cubed into 1 inch pieces and kept aside
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp oil + oil to deep fry
  • Salt to taste


  • Heat the oil to deep fry in a deep bottomed pan and when hot, fry the cubed yam pieces until they are crisp. Keep aside on kitchen paper.
  • In another pan, heat 1 tbsp oil and fry the cumin seeds, ginger garlic paste, onions and tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes soften and turn mushy. Keep aside to cool and then blend to a fine paste.
  • In the same pan, heat the balance oil and pour the onion tomato paste and let it cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Now add all the dry spices – red chilli powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and garam masala and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add the peas and cook till the peas are almost cooked.
  • Now add the fried yam and season with salt. Add any other seasoning if you need it.
  • Let it cook for another 5 minutes. You can add water at this point to thin it to the consistency you want.
  • Remove from the flame and garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with any Indian flatbread of your choice.

Recipe: Ginger Pepper Rasam

Ginger Pepper Rasam 3

Last week GG caught a bad cold from school and since the children are in the midst of exams, I decided to make this rasam, which can also be eaten as a soup which is filled with the goodness of peppercorns and ginger, both which are very good for getting rid of a cold. I made another version earlier, this version omits tamarind and also slightly different.

This is a fairly easy recipe to make and can finish in under 20 minutes when you have the ingredients ready.

Ginger Pepper Rasam 1Ginger Pepper Rasam


  • 1/2 cup cooked tuvar dal
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 1 red chilli (omit this if you don’t want it too spicy or if you intend to increase the number of peppercorns)
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 7-8 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp jaggery (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp pepper powder (optional)
  • Lemon juice as per taste


  • In a pan, take 1 tsp ghee and fry the cumin seeds, chana dal, peppercorns, red chilli, ginger and 4-5 curry leaves and fry until the dal changes colour. Remove from the flame and cool down
  • When cool, grind to a smooth paste with the chopped tomatoes and a bit of water.
  • In a pan, heat the water and add to this the cooked tuvar dal, asafoetida, jaggery and salt and bring to a boil.
  • When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the cooked tomato and spice paste and let it cook well. This should take between five to ten minutes.
  • When it starts boiling, the water will reduce. At this point, top up the water and once it starts boiling again, remove from the flame.
  • Add the lemon juice after the rasam has been removed from the flame.
  • In another smaller pan, heat the remaining ghee. When warm, add the mustard seeds and the balance curry leaves and let them pop. Now add the pepper powder (if you are using) and pour this over the rasam.

Drink hot as a soup for a soothing concoction for your throat. This is yum over rice and a dollop of ghee or even as a pick-me-up during cold and rainy days!

Ginger Pepper Rasam 4

Ginger Pepper Rasam 2





Recipe: Aloo Matar Paneer

Another simple, rustic recipe, straight from the Punjabi heartland, this recipe is also courtesy of my helper R. According to her, this version is what is made in weddings in her village and is a super yummy dish which goes very well with any Indian flatbread. A version of this recipe was what I also made when I cooked a non-South Indian dish for the first time. This recipe was taught to me by a neighbour.

Aloo Matar Paneer


  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 pack frozen paneer, refreshed in a pan with hot water for 30 minutes
  • 2 medium-sized onions, chopped roughly
  • 4 medium-sized tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped roughly
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsps oil (I use a canola-olive blend)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds powder
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp cumin seed powder
  • a handful of cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish


  • Pour hot water over the cashew nuts in a dish and keep aside for 30 minutes till the nuts are soft.
  • Grind together onion, tomatoes, ginger, dried red chillies, garlic and cashew nuts and keep aside. Try not to use any water to make the paste and keep the paste smooth.
  • Chop the potatoes into 1-inch pieces and wash and keep aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds and saute for a few seconds.
  • Add the ground tomato-onion paste and saute till it is browned. Keep stirring so it does not burn. Keep stirring till the oil starts leaving the pan.
  • Add the dry spices now – salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder and stir well.
  • Next, add potatoes and mix well.
  • Add around a quarter cup of water and mix well and cover and cook till the potatoes are almost done.
  • Now add the frozen green peas and mix. Cover and cook till the vegetables are done.
  • If the gravy appears to be thick, add some water to thin it.
  • Now add the paneer pieces and sprinkle the garam masala powder and let it simmer for five minutes.
  • Remove from the flame, garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with any rotis or Indian flatbread.

Recipe: Milagu Kozambu

This is another typical tambram recipe which is probably made in every tambram household at some point or the other. I love this recipe and always used to ask my mum to make it. It is said this is good when you have an upset stomach, as this recipe will clear your stomach.

Both BB & GG also love this recipe and it is usually made plain with no vegetables and is really useful when there’s nothing to cook at home. This time around, I added some vegetables and it was super delicious!

Milagu Kozambu


  • 2 onions, chopped into big pieces
  • 10 ladies fingers, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 4-5 pieces of drumstick, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 tsp Peppercorns
  • 5 Red Chillies
  • 1 tsp Urad Dal
  • 2 tsps Chana Dal
  • ½ tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 2 tsps Coriander Seeds
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • Tamarind piece as big as a piece of lime (make sure you remove all fibre from the tamarind as well as any seeds which may be there)
  • Salt to taste
  • A handful of curry leaves
  • 1/8 tsp of Asafoetida
  • 2 tsps Oil


  • In a bowl, put the tamarind and pour boiling water over it to release the water and flavour and keep aside for 30 minutes. When cool, mash it well to remove the juice and keep aside. There’s no need to remove the flesh for this recipe.
  • Heat oil in a kadhai and when warm, fry the peppercorns, red chillies, urad dal, chana dal, cumin seeds and coriander seeds.
  • When the dals turn red, add the curry leaves and fry till the curry leaves are crisp.
  • At this point, add the asafoetida and let it cool down.
  • When cool, grind to a smooth paste with the tamarind and a little water into a smooth paste.
  • Heat oil and fry the mustard seeds. Now add the onions and fry them so it starts becoming translucent. Then add the drumstick and ladies finger and let them fry for a  couple of minutes.
  • Mix the blended paste with enough water to make 1.5 cups of the paste and add this to the vegetables cooking and let it cook.
  • Add salt to taste as well as some jaggery if you find it spicy and let it cook till the vegetables are fully cooked and the mixture becomes thick and reduces.
  • Check for seasoning and switch off the gas.

This kozambu will keep for about 2 days outside and about a week in the fridge. Eat with hot rice and some papad. So soul satisfying on a cold or rainy day!