Iru Puli Kuzhambu

This is a typically Thirunelveli dish. Thirunelveli is a region in the south Indian state of Thamizhnadu. It is famous for it’s distinctive cuisine. This traditional recipe tastes delicious. I have only started experimenting with Thirunelveli cuisine and have fallen with it. Many recipes of Thirunelveli are similar to dishes from Kerala since the city is quite close to the Kerala border. But the dishes of Thirunelveli have a distinctive taste. So distinctive is the cuisine that there are many bloggers who confine themselves to the Thirunelveli cuisine.
Iru puli literally means two sources of sourness. Kuhambu is, of course, a wet dish to be mixed with rice. Therefore, there are two ingredients that provide a sourness to this dish – tamarind and sour yogurt. In case you think that it might taste very sour, perish the thought. It comes together as a slightly sour dish that tastes unique and tongue-tickling with steamed rice. You must experience it to believe it.

Iru Puli Kuzhambu

1 cup cubed eggplant
10 finger sized pieces of drumstick (the vegetable)
A lime sized ball of tamarind soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and juice extracted (or use 1 tbsp of tamarind paste)
1/2 cup sour vegan yogurt
1 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
2-3 dried red chilis
1 sprig curry leaves
Unrefined salt to taste
To Grind
2-3 dried red chilis
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dhana, venthiyam)
1/4 cup grated coconut
2 tsp brown/red rice
Heat a wok and add the fenugreek seeds
When they begin to change colour, add the red chilis and roast for about 30 seconds (the chilis should not be burnt)
Set aside to cool
When cooled, transfer to a blender
Add the grated coconut and rice
Add a little water and grind to a paste
Set aside
Keep the tamarind juice ready
Whisk the yogurt and keep it ready too
Heat a largish wok and add the mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the curry leaves and dried red chilis
Roast for 30 seconds
Add the eggplant and drumsticks and sauté for about 2 minutes
Add the tamarind juice and salt
Boil till the vegetables are cooked and the raw smell of the tamarind goes away
(If using tamarind paste, add about 1/2 cup water foo)
Add the ground paste and let it come to a boil
Lower the flame and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes
Turn the flame to the lowest and add the yogurt
Mix well and let it begin to froth (do not boil the yogurt as it could split)
Remove from flame and transfer to a serving bowl
Serve hot with steamed red/brown/millet rice or dosa, idli….

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