Shallots / Sambar Vengayam – 1 cup
Garlic – 1/2 cup
Curry leaves – 2 cups
Tamarind – 1 lemon size
Vengaya kari vadagam – 1/2 tsp (Refer to note on how to make this)
Salt – to taste
Sesame Oil – 4 tbsp
To roast and grind:
Whole dry red chillies – 10 –12
Channa dal – 2 tsp
Coriander seeds – 3 tsp
Black pepper cirn – 1 1/2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
Oil – 1/2 tsp
Immerse the curry leaves in water and wash well at least twice. Peel the skin of both shallots and garlic. If you have a mortar and pestle pound both together till they are coarse. Soak the tamarind in some warm water and extract the juice.
Heat a pan with oil and roast the ingredients mentioned in the list over medium flame till you get a nice aroma. Let it cool and grind it to a fine paste adding little water. Keep aside.
Heat sesame oil in a pan. Season with vengaya kari vadagam, when you get the aroma add the pound shallots and garlic and cook till they are pink and soft. Add the ground paste at this stage and cook till the raw smell goes off.
Add tamarind extract, salt, enough water (1/4 cup approx.,) and mix well. Close with a lid and let it cook over low flame for 5-7 mins or till the raw smell disappears.
Serve hot with rice to which a dollop of ghee has been added. This tastes even better the next day and the next but you have to reheat it to prevent it from spoiling as we have added shallots.
Adjust the quantity of red chillies according to your spice level.
For an authentic taste use sesame oil but if you are not comfortable with the flavor use any vegetable oil.
Urad dal – 1 cup
Small onions (sambar onions) – 1 kg
Red chilli – 1 cup
Salt – to taste
Hing – 1 /4 tsp
Curry leaf – 2 to 3 sprigs
Coriander – 2 tbsp
Mustard – 2 tsp
Castor oil – 5 tbsp
Soak urad dal for 1 hour. Peel the onions and divide it half. Keep the on e half as whole and chop the other half of the onions finely. Drain the water add the red chilli and grind it together coarsely as you would for vadai batter. Before taking the batter add one half of the peeled whole onions and grind together again. Remove the batter and transfer to a vessel.
To this add salt, hing, chopped onions, curry leaf, coriander leaves, mustard and mix well. Add the castor oil at last to prevent the batter from sticking to your hands. This also acts as the binding agent. Mix well. Make small balls and sun dry them for at least 3 days on a plastic sheet.
Store in air tight bottle and use as required for tempering around ¼ tsp to ½ tsp and not more, as the whole gravy will get a predominant smell of these vadagams. Also the castor oil added might give a bitter taste when added more than recommended.
When dried properly these balls can be stored for many years. They tend to turn blackish during the course of time. No need to worry as this won’t spoil at all.