This is a very traditional style dish and is considered to be full of medicinal value because of the curry leaves (karuveppilai in Tamil) and whole black pepper (milagu in Tamil) that is used in this. A little bit of this kuzhambu mixed with rice and sesame oil every other day for a week or 10 days is supposed to be really good for pregnant moms and also those who have already delivered :-) (I know about it because I've seen my Mom/Grandma make this whenever a friend/neighbor is pregnant or had just delivered).
Curry leaves - 2 cups (using a measuring cup)
Tamarind soaked in warm water - about the size of a small lemon
(If using paste, about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of it)
Sesame oil - about 3 to 4 tablespoons (you can even use regular cooking oil)
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Salt to taste
To dry fry one after the other and set aside:
Dried red chillies - 4 to 5 broken into half
Coriander seeds - 2 full tablespoon
Toor dhal - 1 tablespoon
Channa dhal - 1 tablespoon
Whole black pepper - 1 teaspoon (the pepper corns actually burst when you fry them... beware!!!!)
1. Extract the juice from the soaked tamarind to yield about a cup (using a measuring cup) of it or dilute the paste to get a cup (using a measuring cup) of tamarind water and pour it into the blender.
2. Add the curry leaves and the dry fried ingredients to the blender in step 1 and grind into a smooth paste (can be a little liquidy as well).
3. In a deep vessel, heat the sesame oil (or regular cooking oil), pop mustard seeds, add the turmeric powder and asafoetida and immediately pour the paste/liquid from step 2 and mix in well. You might want to keep the heat on low when you pour the liquid into the oil to avoid getting hurt and a lot of splatter.
4. Add some salt to step 4 and cook on medium heat with constant stirring until the raw smell of the ingredients subside and the greenish color of the paste/liquid turns sort of brownish. It takes about 20 minutes roughly to get to that stage. Turn off the stove once done and you can refrigerate it in an airtight container for about a fortnight.
You can even dry fry the raw curry leaves quickly for about 10 - 15 seconds on medium heat and then grind them along with the other ingredients in step 2.
Even if you run short of curry leaves, you can use less of the curry leaves and still make an awesome kuzhambu. Moar kuzhambu and karuveppilai kuzhambu are an awesome combo and so is karuvadaam and karuveppilai kuzhambu. Enjoy!!!!