Homemade Thayir, Dahi, Curds or Yogurt in colder climes

Background:

As a new bride I struggled to make thayir like amma made. I tried to emulate what I had seen her do with drastically different results. Over the years, talking to old hands at this, I have discovered a way that makes my thayir almost as good as hers. This applies to colder climes.

Stuff you will need:

2% Milk – 1 liter
Left over thayir – 1 tbsp

How to make it?

Boil milk till it really is ready to boil over. Remove from heat and let cool till you can put your hands around the vessel and hold it there for 10 secs. At this point stir in the thayir. Close the vessel. If you are doing this overnight, let the microwave run for about a minute or two empty. When done, move the vessel containing the milk and close. Leave undisturbed for about 8 hours. Thayir is ready.

Serves four

Special notes:

I have experimented with putting it in the oven and leaving the oven light on, the thayir sets no doubt but becomes sour quick.

Kadalai Kuzhambu – Spicy tamarind soup with groundnuts

Background:

For a twist in the regular vatral kuzhambu, my mom adds ground nuts or kabul channa. As kids this was one of our favorite dishes. So, with amma visiting I figured this was the best time to record the recipe for later.

Stuff you will need:

Tamarind – the size of a small lemon soaked and juice extracted
Brinjal – 2 small – quartered
Groundnuts/Kabuli channa – soaked and cooked – 2 handfuls
Bengal gram dhal – 2 tsp
Urad dhal – 2 tsp
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Red chillies – 2
Coconut – shredded 1 handful
Salt to taste
Sambar powder – 1.5 tsp
Rice flour – 2 tsp
Mustard – 2 tsp
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs chopped
Jaggery – 2 tsp powdered

How to make it?

Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed pan. Add mustard when the oil is hot. As the mustard pops, add urad dhal and bengal gram dhal. Add coconut and fry till reddish brown. Add the chopped curry leaves, brinjal and saute. Add tamarind pulp extract, salt and sambar powder. Allow the kuzhambu to boil till smell of sambar powder goes away. Add boiled groundnuts (kadalai) or kabuli channa and jaggery. If the kuzhambu is watery thicken by adding rice flour mixed in water. Simmer for about five minutes and turn heat off.

Serve hot with rice, a dollop of ghee and appalam or poduthuval

Serves four

Special notes:

This kuzambu can be made with chenai kizhangu (yam) instead of brinjal.

Beans Paruppu Usili – Dry curry with lentils and string beans

Background:

K and I love the Paruppu Usili/Morkuzhambu combo. So much so it is our weekend ritual. It defines our idea of a good Saturday or Sunday. Feast on this exotic combination and wrap up the afternoon with a siesta. Because usili takes a good amount of work compared to the other dry curries we make, it is accorded a special place on our Menu Honor Roll.

Stuff you will need:

Green string beans – 2 lb – chopped into small bits
1 cup – thuvar dhal
1 cup – mix of channa dhal/moong dhal and urad dhal
Salt to taste
Long Red chillies – 10
Asafoetida – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Oil – 2 tbsps
Turmeric – 1 tsp

How to make it?

Cook beans with salt and set aside. Soak the dhals together for about an hour and grind with red chillies, salt and asafoetida using little water. Steam the ground dhal paste using idli plates. Remove, cool and crumble.

In a big kadai or wok, heat a generous measure of oil. When heated, add mustard seeds and wait till the pop. Add the crumbled dhal paste and fry till golden brown and dry. When done, add the drained cooked beans and mix in. Cook on low heat for about five minutes when the curry comes together. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Serves four

Special Notes:

Paruppu usili can be had all by itself or as a side with rice and morkuzhambu.