Friday, August 9, 2013

My mother-in-law's Red Morkuzhambu

Morkuzambu is served at almost every tam bram (Tamil Brahmin) function or celebration.  It is a yogurt-based dish that is served with rice.  Moru means buttermilk.  It is typically made with green chilies, coconut and buttermilk.  My mom used to make this for different festival days.  It was always a part of a big spread and I would skip it because I had other dishes I wanted to try. 

Once I got married, my mother-in-law, who was also an excellent cook, told me that she was going to make sepu (red) morkuzhambu.  I had never heard of this and was intrigued.  She served this with seppankizhangu curry and I was hooked.   I loved the extra tangy taste from the tamarind and the increased level of spiciness added by the red chilies.  Now, when I make morkuzhambu, I only make this kind.

When my husband moved to the U.S. as a grad student, she wrote down a few recipes for him in a diary.  Here is my mother-in-law’s recipe for sepu morkuzhambu from that diary. Her birthday is coming up next week.  This is my way of remembering her.

The pictures don’t do justice to this dish.  I have made this twice since I started my blog, but have not been able to get good pictures. It tastes way better than it looks in my pictures.

Red Morkuzhambu

Here is what you need:

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 Tbsp. toor dal  
  • 5 – 6 red chilies
  • ¼ tsp. methi (fenugreek) seeds
  • ¼ cup grated coconut
  • ½ cup yogurt, beaten well
  • ½ tsp. tamarind paste
  • ½ cup vegetable of your choice, cut into small pieces – okra, lauki, white pumpkin, drumstick etc. work well
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 red chili
  • few curry leaves

Here is how I made it:

  1. Heat 1 tsp. oil in a small pan.  Add the toor dal, methi, and red chilies.
  2. Fry till the dal turns slightly red.  Turn off the heat and let it cool
  3. Grind these with coconut into a smooth paste, adding a bit of water.
  4. Mix this with yogurt and set aside.
  5. In another saucepan, mix the tamarind paste with a little water (just enough to cover the vegetables), add the vegetables (I used white pumpkin) and bring it to a boil.
  6. Turn down the heat and let this simmer till the vegetable is cooked.
  7. Now add the yogurt mixture and salt. 
  8. Keep the flame on low so that the yogurt does not separate.
  9. After about 5 – 7 minutes, turn off the heat.
  10. Now, heat the remaining oil in a small pan.  Add the mustard seeds and red chili.  When the mustard seeds sputter, turn off the flame, add the curry leaves and pour this over the morkuzhambu.

Serve with rice and seppankizhangu curry.

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