Growing up, Chinna Vengayam or Shallots were quite commonly found in our locality. Amma used them mainly for Sambar or Pulusu preparation. Although I like them, I know it’s a lot of work to peel them carefully. After moving to Bangalore, I seldom saw them the first couple of years and whenever I did find them, they were super costly. I liked how my MIL would use them in anything and everything replacing the usual onions – magically enhancing the taste multiple folds. I particularly like her Kuzhambu/gravy recipe and instead of following her recipe, I modified it and gave it my own twist. I used peeled shallots as it is, leaving them full. There is a joy in finding layers after layers in the little shallots while eating. This Kuzhambu/Gravy has no other major ingredient and shallots shine through. With tamarind being used, the gravy is tangy, spicy and perfect for rice/idli/dosa.
I used no lentils/pulses in making this gravy and as it is based on tamarind, this gravy stays good for a day even when left outside. The best part is, it tastes great the following day especially when had with idli/dosa. With hot rice and something crunchy on the side, there is nothing else required with this kuzhambu. Also, this can be made very easily – once all the mixing and stirring is done, you can let the stove do rest of the work. The gravy has to be boiled on a low flame for longer time to perfect the taste. Addition of coconut is optional.
To make Chinna Vengaya Kuzhambu | Shallots Gravy
What I used –
- Shallots/Chinna Vengayam/Sambar Vengayam, 15-20
- Garlic Pods, 5-6
- Dried Red Chilli, 1 or 2
- Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
- Jeera, 1 tsp
- Fenugreek Seeds, ½ tsp
- Curry Leaves, a few
- Sambar Powder, 1.5 tbsp
- Turmeric Powder, ½ tsp
- Thick Tamarind pulp, ½ tbsp
- Grated Coconut, 2 tbsp
- Salt, as required
- Water, as required
- Gingely/Sesame oil, 1.5 tbsp
How I made –
1. In a thick bottomed pan, heat gingely oil. Add torn red chillies, mustard seeds, jeera and fenugreek seeds. Let them splutter. Add peeled garlic and curry leaves. Fry for 20 secs. Add peeled shallots.
2. Fry until the shallots are translucent. Add sambar powder and turmeric powder. Fry for 2-3 mins. Add some water and cook the shallots for 4-5 mins.
3. Add salt and mix well. Mix some water with the tamarind pulp and add it to the gravy. Boil it on low flame for 10-15 mins until all the spices are well absorbed by the shallots. Grind the coconut with little water and add it to the gravy. Bring the gravy to a boil and switch off the heat.
4. Serve hot with rice and fryums/appalam/papad.
- This gravy can be prepared using regular onions too. Shallots enhance the flavor.
- Use of gingely oil or virgin sesame oil in Kuzhambu recipes enhances the taste. In case of non-availability, cooking oil can be used.
- Let the gravy simmer on low flame for about 15 mins atleast to have the perfect taste.
- The gravy can be slightly tangy due to the addition of tamarind. Adjust chilli powders accordingly.
- Instead of sambar powder, red chilli powder + coriander + jeera powder can be added as well.