Kerala Iyers(KI), often called Palakkad Iyers(PI) even though many of us live in parts of Kerala other than Palakkad, are a community that migrated to Kerala from different parts of Tamilnadu centuries ago. They have made Kerala their home and have come up with a cuisine that incorporates the best of two worlds - Tamil cooking and Kerala cooking and have also come up with some dishes that are unique to KI cooking. You will be hard put to find some of the KI dishes in either Tamil/Kerala cooking. This vendakka pachadi is one such dish that is a unique legacy of the Kerala Iyers.
Unlike the connotation that the term pachadi has, of being an accompaniment, this pachadi is a full fledged side dish/gravy which you pour onto rice, mix and eat. It is a combination of three different tastes - sour, sweet and mildly spicy.
This, with some mangakari and papadam on the side makes a wonderfully satisfying meal.
What you need:
Vendakka/ladies finger/okra - 10- 12 medium sized ones, washed and dried on a towel
Tamarind extract - from a lemon sized ball soaked in 2 cups of water
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Jaggery - 1/2 tsp grated
Grind together to a smooth paste:
Grated coconut - 3/4 cup
Green chillies - 3 or 4
Mustard seeds - 3/4 tsp
Water - enough for grinding to a thick paste
Make a smooth paste with:
Rice flour - 1 tsp
Water - 1/4 cup
Coconut oil - 1 tsp
Red chilli - 1 or 2, broken into pieces
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Broken urad dal - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Slice the ladies finger into one inch pieces. In a large pan, take the ladies finger, tamarind extract, turmeric powder and salt. Bring to a boil and then let it simmer until the ladies finger is well cooked. Add the ground paste and jaggery. Let it boil for about 5-8 minutes until the raw smell is gone.
Add the rice flour paste and heat for a minute. This paste helps to bring all the ingredients together and to slightly thicken the curry.
Heat all the ingredients for tempering and once the mustard seeds pop, pour it over the curry.
Note : Instead of using rice flour paste, you can add a teaspoon of rice and grind it along with the other ingredients for the ground paste.
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