In case you are wondering… Yes vathalkuzhambu(vk) is a dish that defines tambram like Pele defines Soccer.
And if my family were in Game of Thrones, guess what our banner flag would have have on it?
So yes – veekay, as my brother has code named it, with paruppu sadam, is the only common thread that runs across all of us in my family.
And let me add here. Paruppu sadam is NOT dal chawal! It is freshly made sticky gooey rice with toor/greengram dal flavored with turmeric powder, cooked in a pressure cooker. Once it comes out lots of ghee and salt is added to it and it is mashed, using a broad concave ladle.
This is our daily breakfast and oh yes! We never tire of it!!
It is mouth-wateringly delicious with any spicy gravy like sambar, veekay, more kozhambu, kootu, pitlai, and so on. It is also delightful with fried poriyals like potato, okra, brinjal, and steamed poriyals like various kinds of beans, red beets etc.
That is a background I needed to give you before I offer to share this recipe of veekay with you as you would only then understand the sense of achievement that I felt once I made it!
Potatoes are used in sambar but never in veekay. Veekay is famous with fried veggies like brinjal, okra, shallots, red pumpkin etc..
When my brother mentioned potato veekay, I thought – ‘why didn’t I think of this earlier!’ I was inpatient to try the ‘theeyal’ recipe that keralites make too. I decided to combine the two.
Ingredients: (same as a regular veekay, just a few additions)
4 medium potatoes, washed peeled and diced to one-inch cubes
Lime size ball of tamarind soaked in hot water
Sambar podi – 1.5 heaped teaspoons
Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Pinch of asafoetida
2 Red chillies plucked
1/4 kopra, dry roasted and blitzed coarsely
Sesame oil – 1 table spoon
Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 teapsoon
2 Curry leaves sprigs
Handful of coriander leaves washed and chopped.
In a thick bottom vessel, pour half the oil. Once hot, add sesame seeds. Once it splatters, add fenugreek seeds, red chillies and the asafoetida.
Add the diced potatoes, salt, sambar powder, turmeric powder, toss for 30 seconds and add water. Let it boil and partially cook the potatoes. Keep the flame between medium and high.
Squeeze the tamarind into the water and pour the syrup into the pot with potatoes. Bring to boil for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Check flavor by tasting. It should have the right amount of tang, spice and salt. If the liquid is too thin, you can thicken it with half a spoon of rice powder mixed with water. Else skip that step.
Once it boils, add the shredded kopra and coriander leaves and curry leaves. Finally, pour in the rest of the sesame oil and let the heat soak up its rich flavour!
Take a big plate with an edge.
Drop in a ladle full of paruppu sadam and make a small whole in the centre. Pour in hot veekay with potatoes…
Now it is ‘dig – in’ time! Slurp slurp.
Once it was ready and my kids tasted it, they said, ‘this is yummm’. My achievement for the day!