Secrets in making the best kozhambu

Author: kittymatti / Labels:

Turnip Sambhar
Photo Courtesy: Priya (my friend)

South Indian cooking is all about balancing various tastes like sweetness, sourness, bitterness, hot/karam/spicy/dryness and a sixth taste called kasaaya (that extra edge you have to provide in your cooking). Every kozhambu must have the perfect balance of all these tastes! This is not American cooking wherein the inherent flavour of rice, vegetable or the main ingredient is important. Play around with your masalas and kill all the original flavours as much as possible..hahaha..

Here are some tips you can follow...

1. While roasting the masala ingredients, add a dash of hing in the oil while roasting. Your kozhambu is sure to smell great

2. Whenever you make tamarind based kozhambus, use a little ( I mean very little) jaggery. It is the best way to balance the tangy and karam (hot/spicy) taste. Make sure that you don't add to much and spoil the dish!

3. If your kozhambu gets very salty, don't panic. Add a big peeled piece of a raw potato. Boil with the potato for a few min. The potato absorbs the excess salt. Now, discard the potato. Super quick fix and works well.. (thanks mom!)

4. Never blindly follow recipe books. Understand why you add certain ingredients. Change the proportion of ingredients to suit your taste.

Specific properties of ingredients in a masala:

Urad dal: Gives thickness to the kozhambu
Channa dal and toor dal: Enhances flavour, also thickens
Jeera, dhaniya and peppercorns: Give a particular flavour
Red/green chillies : obviously increase the heat factor
Coconut: Gives a soothing flavour and helps in thickening
Hing: Aroma factor, a little bitter flavour
Turmeric: Medicinal value, gives colour
Methi seeds: Bitterness, medicinal value.

5. When you feel the colour of your kozhambu is too light, the first thing you must do is check the salt content. You might have forgotten to add salt!

6. Use gingely oil/ til oil/ nalla yennai while frying masalas and while adding seasonings. It gives a traditional flavour...

7. If you have problems with vatha kozhambu thickening, add 1/2 sp of kadala maavu/ besan with the kozhambu podi and fry well. If you are in chennai, try to mix your kozhambu podi with a little bit of Grand Sweets Vathhakozhambu podi! It is yummy, extra hot and amazing! (thanks siyamee)


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