Coconut + anything = awesome
Yeah maybe another curd-based, cold thing isn’t exactly what we need right now, is it? The weathers doing crazy things up north, and some serious effects were felt down here, closer home too. But in the loot from my “feel-better” trip to the market last week, I also had in the bag, a medium sized ridge gourd.
Most people curl their noses up at the thought of any gourd. But I’m that freak that is sniffing out every different kind of gourd there is. That the husband has been subjected to way more veggies in the last three years, than the 25 that preceded them, is testimony. But of late he has started to protest. There’s apparently only that much force-feeding a man can take. Heh. But I love my veggies, and I had to find a mid-way for us to continue to eat healthy and keep our marriage from falling apart over conflicting tastes and culinary inclinations, no?
Which is when I discovered kind of by accident, that VC loves all things coconut. Chuck some grainy, creamy coconutty goodness into anything, and I can trick him into believing it is delicious. So for the last month or so I have been frantically fishing out every coconutty curry out there, and adapting it to include as many veggies as possible. And in this quest, I went back to tambli: a coconut-curd based cold curry of sorts, usually made with a variety of spice combinations, and sometimes cooked vegetables too. It is had cold, either plain or over rice, and in my home accompanied by crispy potatoes or fried fish. Because of its simplicity and cold yoghurt-base, I find tambli to be cooling and quite the break from the spices and masalas of regular cooking.
Ever since, tambli has been a hit with VC. And of course it was not long before I consulted with my mother and figured a way to introduce ridge gourd into the mix.
What I used
1 medium-small ridge gourd, peeled and chopped into small pieces (check notes at the end)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
2 small green chillies, halved
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
A generous dash of asafetida
1 cup curd (preferably a day old and slightly sour)
Salt to taste
Water, as needed
How I made it
In a pan, I heated a teaspoon of ghee. When hot, I added in the mustard seeds and curry leaves. As they began to sputter, I threw in the chopped ridge gourd and turned the flame down. I tossed the veggies around till they were soft and shiny.Then I added a dash of salt, just enough to aid the veggies to cook, a little bit of water and turned the flame up again. I cooked the ridge gourd covered for about 5-7 minutes until they had wilted and cooked down completely. I then took the lid off and on a high flame let the water dry out almost completely. What remains is a mush of cooked vegetable.I set it aside to cool.
To the sour curd I added a little bit of water and whisked it till it was smooth and creamy, but not too watery/thin. Setting this aside, i moved on to grinding the spices.
In a small vaghar pan, I heated a spot of ghee, just so. And dropped the pieces of chilli into it. I added a generous bit of asafetida and tossed them around, till they were fragrant and the chillies were scarred by the heat. Then I tipped them over the coconut, into the smallest mixie jar. I added in 2-3 tablespoons of the sour curd and a dash of water and ground it to a thick-ish chutney. I like my tambli with some grain, so I stopped right before it got too thin and creamy. I tipped it into the whisked curd.
And I mixed it up well.To this, I then added in the cooked ridge gourd. My mother usually mashes up the gourd to a near-pulp, so when it is added it blends into the tambli. I like my tambli chunky and the veggies semi-whole. So feel free to choose.I then mixed it all up well, adjusted the salt and tucked it away into the fridge until lunch time! We had the tambli with hot rice, the carrot salad and some fresh appalams, but in my opinion the simplicity of tambli is quite deceptive. It is one of those curries that is subtle, yet quite packed with flavour, mostly from the the chillies and asafetida, which makes it robust enough to stand its own, without another accompaniment.Some notes:
1) The wonderful thing about ridge gourd is it cooks down really fast. What that also means is that you’re usually left with almost half the quantity of vegetable you started off with, so if you’re cooking for more than 2, adjust quantities accordingly.
2) The curd you use should be creamy and smooth and not too runny, so that the consistency of the tambli is in between chutney and curry.
3) Other veggies that can be used similarly are sauteed bhindi, palak, capsicum, amongst many others.
4) My mother sometimes grinds up some dill into the coconut to make another rather flavoursome tambli — but maybe I shall blog about that separately!