There are some dishes bring about a bout of nostalgia. Mother’s kitchen. Sunday lunches. Weeknight dinners. Birthday cakes. Brunches. Everyone has that one special recipe that reminds you of mom, of simpler, happier times. For me, it’s this dish. I can just close my eyes and go 20 years back, sitting on my mom’s kitchen counter, watching my mom cook, waiting for her to finish, so I can eat it, with steaming hot rice, and pan fried okra. Those were the days.
But it’s still nice to know that I can make the same kuzhambu (sauce), and re-live those memories, even though mom is thousands of miles away. So here is the recipe of mom’s paruppuruNdai mOrkkuzhambu (steamed lentil dumplings in a spicy yogurt sauce).
Chana dal – 1/2 cup
Toor dal – 1/2 cup
Dried red chilies – 2-3 (depending on your spice preference)
Curry leaves – 1 bunch
Salt to taste
Buttermilk – 2 cups (or plain yogurt 1 cup and water 1 cup blended together)
Cumin – 1 tsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Toor dal – 1 1/2 tsp
Green chilies – 1-2 (depending on how sour your buttermilk/yogurt is)
Fresh grated coconut – 3 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
For tempering: Oil, mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafetida.
Soak the dals and red chilies in water for 2 hours.
Drain, and grind it with curry leaves and salt (without extra water) into a coarse, thick batter. Do not add more water.
Shape into lime sized balls, using a light touch, don’t press too hard to shape them, they tend to become too hard when steamed.
Steam for 15 – 20 min. (Be it in the idli cooker, rice cooker or stove top steamer)
Soak cumin, coriander seeds, and toor dal in water for 15-20 min.
Grind into a fine paste with green chilies and grated coconut.
Mix the ground paste, turmeric and salt in the buttermilk/yogurt.
Place on the stove (medium heat) and heat the kuzhambu till it bubbles up. Do not let it boil, as this will separate the curds and whey in the yogurt.
Add the paruppuruNdais.
Temper mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafetida in oil, and add to the mOrkkuzhambu.
Let it sit for 30 min, so the paruppuruNdais will soak up the flavor of the kuzhambu.
Serve with hot rice, or sEvai (rice noodles).
1. Leave the yogurt/buttermilk on the counter for a few hours so it turns a bit sour. Sour is better for this dish, because it holds up well to the spices.
2. The same paruppuruNdai recipe works for paruppusili too, after steaming, temper and saute with steamed veggies.
3. You can make the mOrkkuzhambu without the lentil dumplings, and use veggies in it’s place (okra, squash, eggplant)
4. You could add the lentil dumplings in other sauces too: vathakuzhambu, kaarakuzhambu.