Chettinad is a region in South India famous for their art and architecture as well as delectably spicy but wholesome cuisine. Simple ingredients like beans and vegetables are transformed into heavenly tasting treats with the addition of a few spices. This kuzhambu/stew made in the Chettinad style is utterly delicious, hearty, and nutritious. The mung beans cook up succulent and delectable. I knew it was a winner when Paji asked for leftovers!
It can be prepared using young sponge gourd (tori or loofah), zucchini, bottle gourd aka lauki/dudhi/cucuzzi/opo squash; any greens like turnip greens, spinach, or Malabar spinach (Basella alba), etc. Tangy sorrel or Gongura leaves may be used instead of and/or in combination with the tamarind.
I used red Swiss chard and a couple of French sorrel leaves this time. Just because the stems of the chard/sorrel look tough, don't discard them as looks can be deceiving! Do include the stems - the finely chopped stems need a little longer cooking than the leaves.
4 - 6 Servings
1 Cup Whole Mung beans
1 bunch Swiss Chard
2 or 3 large sorrel leaves
2 hot green chilies
1 small Onion
1 clove Garlic (optional)
1 stalk Fresh Curry Leaves
2 tsp Tamarind concentrate
1 Tbsp Sambar Powder or to taste
11/2 tsp Sea Salt
2-4 Tbsp fresh Coriander leaves (Cilantro) - for garnish
1 Tbsp Oil
1 dry Red chili
1/2 tsp Brown Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
1 or 2 pinches asafoetida
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sort the mung beans, wash well, and cook with water to cover with a pinch of turmeric until soft. Stir in 1/2 tsp of the salt and set aside until needed. This can be done up to a day or two ahead of time.
Meanwhile, prepare the veggies: finely chop onions and garlic. Strip the leaves from the chard and sorrel; chop the stems and leaves coarsely and keep them separate. Halve the green chilies, remove the cores with the seeds, and mince. Finely chop the curry leaves.
Prepare thalippu: heat the oil in a large sauce pan and add the mustard, fenugreek, and red chili; when the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the asafoetida and the black pepper.
Add the curry leaves, onions, and garlic with the rest of the salt and the turmeric; cook stirring often until the onions are softened.
Stir in the chard stems and cook for a couple of minutes.
Sprinkle the Sambar Powder and then 1 cup of water and the tamarind paste; bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Add the cooked beans and hot water to get the right consistency. bring to a boil stirring often. Simmer the kuzhambu for 15 minutes on low heat.
Increase the heat, stir in the chopped chard and sorrel leaves and cook until the leaves wilt and soften.
Remove from heat, cover, and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
Remove the red chili and discard if you wish.
Serve hot garnished with cilantro if you wish.
Delicious on its own, served with chapatis, or other Indian flat breads, or over rice. Enjoy!