Mor (buttermilk) kuzhambu

When I was growing up, mor kuzhambu was something I liked but it was definitely not a hot favourite. That changed one day about 40 years back when I walked into my Periamma’s house in Chennai and was hit by a tantalising aroma. There are some moments in life that you never forget and this was one such moment. Shamelessly I asked her if I could eat whatever she had made and was thus introduced to her mor kuzhambu. After that I had to have the recipe. And so here, with many thanks to my Periamma, is her recipe.

This is called varuthu aracha mor kuzhambu ie. the spices have to be fried and then ground to a paste along with some that need to be soaked and ground.

For the spices paste
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Dried red chillies – 2
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
Chana dal – 1 tbsp (soak for an hour)
Grated coconut – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 1

Fry urad dal, coriander seeds, dried red chillies and fenugreek seeds in the oil till golden brown and keep aside. When cool put in the grinder along with soaked chana dal, grated coconut, jeera and green chillies. Grind to a smooth paste adding some water and keep aside.

Ingredients for spice paste

For the mor kuzhambu
Sour yogurt – 1 – 1 1/2 cup
Any vegetable like okra, small eggplant, chow chow or ash gourd cut into 1 inch cubed pieces – 1 cup
Coconut oil – 2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch
Curry leaves – 6-7
Salt to taste

In a kadai heat the coconut oil and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter add the asafoetida and whatever vegetable you are using. Let the vegetables fry for a while in the oil and then add half a cup of water the turmeric powder and salt. Cover with the lid and allow the vegetables to cook on low heat.

In the meantime add the spices paste to the yogurt and whisk well so there are no lumps and the yogurt is well mixed. Add water as required to this, so that the mixture is of the consistency of thick buttermilk. Once the vegetables are cooked add the spices and yogurt mix to the vegetables and continue cooking on low heat till the mor kuzhambu comes together. It is important to keep on low heat and stirring constantly so that it does not curdle.

Serve with rice. This will serve 6-7 people.

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