The term ‘Vendhaya Kuzhambu’ is actually a misnomer. Vendhayam is fenugreek. The amount of fenugreek used in this curry is very very small, but in Thirunelveli (where I’m from) this garlic and shallot curry is always referred to as vendhaya kuzhambu. It is usually served with plain boiled rice, but I particularly enjoy it with idlys :).
This curry is not made very often nowadays because housewives feel that a lot of time is wasted in peeling garlic and sambar onions. My mother had a maid who would be tasked with peeling the garlic and the onion. I make this very often because it is a favourite, and my daughter always wonders how I have the patience to keep peeling! The secret is I watch the TV while peeling without the fan running or else the house will be strewn with the peel 🙂
The garlic provides 6.8 g protein per 100 g. The onion provides very little protein or energy. It is the oil that is used that gives energy of about 450 calories for the entire curry. On the whole, the energy and protein contribution of the curry is not significant. However garlic lowers the cholesterol level, and if this curry is consumed very often it may have a beneficial effect.
- 1 ½ C Sambar Onions (Shallots), peeled
- ¾ C small Garlic Cloves, peeled
- ½ C Coconut scrapings
- 1 lemon sized ball of Tamarind
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 T Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- 1 T Coriander Powder
- ¼ tsp Fenugreek Powder
- ¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
- ¼ tsp Fenugreek Seeds
- 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
- ¼ C Gingelly Oil (Sesame Oil)
- 1 T salt, or to taste
- 3 C Water, approximately
- Soak the Tamarind in 1 cup of hot water for at least half an hour. Squeeze the tamarind into the water in which it is soaked to extract the juice. Add another ½ cup water and squeeze again. Strain and set aside.
- Grind the coconut in a mixie or a blender by pulsing at speeds 1, 2, and 3 for 10 seconds each.
- Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan.
- Add the mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the fenugreek seeds.
- As soon as the fenugreek seeds brown, add the garlic and stir.
- Use low heat and stir till tiny bubbles form on the surface of the garlic.
- Add the sambar onion and fry till the onion becomes translucent.
- Add the turmeric, chilli, coriander, and fenugreek powders. Stir on low heat.
- Add 1 cup water and bring to boil. Lower heat and cook for a few minutes.
- Strain the tamarind extract once again. Mix the ground coconut in it.
- Add this to the onion and garlic mixture. Add the rest of the water.
- Add salt and bring to boil.
- Allow to boil for 2-3 minutes on low heat.
- Add the curry leaves and remove from heat.
- Small garlic cloves will give a better flavour than large garlic cloves.
- I use Kashmiri chilli powder for its mild flavour and rich colour. If you use any other chilli powder use only half the amount.
- If fenugreek powder is not available, broil 2 tablespoons of fenugreek seeds and powder. Store in an airtight container and use when necessary.
- I strain the tamarind juice twice to remove the grit from the tamarind.