Paruppu urundai moorkozhambhu – A savoury curry with buttermilk and lentils

On a Sunday night weeks ago I got an email from Pola of An Italian in cooking in the middle west, a friendly and enthusiastic blogger friend who mentioned about forming a team of bloggers from different countries. Her email read “I am thinking of putting together 10-20 bloggers from around the world who would blog once a month about a recipe typical from their home-country. The idea is to have a different theme or ingredient each month and each blogger would interpret the theme according to her/his own culinary style“. I wrote back with a yes and was so curious to hear back from her soon. The next morning she wrote back CCing all the talented bloggers in the list, we introduced ourselves, started a conversation about the key ingredient for the month, followed each other in twitter and liked each other’s page in facebook and that was the beginning of new friendships. I hope to learn a lot through this friendship and hopefully we get to meet each other one day.

There will be one theme chose for a month and all the bloggers will cook and write a post about it on the last Sunday of each month. Today is our first post and the theme is Meatballs.  Since I had recently wrote a post on Kofta curry (meatballs curry), I took the liberty to post an vegetarian version of the meatballs with lentils. It’s called Parruppu urundai moor kozhambhu (Steamed lentil balls cooked in a yogurt sauce)
Indians believe on the rule “Food is medicine and medicine is food”. The word Ayurveda means the science of life. Experts like Dr. Deepak Chopra define ayurveda as an ancient medical system with a holistic approach. Ayurveda is the most ancient form of medicinal system in India. The food is developed as per your body type called doshas. It is similar of the concept of  personalized medicine. Cooking certain spices and herbs together promotes the body’s own healing properties. India being a tropical country, excessive warmth in the body is believed to cause many illness, so foods that will help in heating and cooling the body are prescribed by the elders at home who know ayurvedic approach of eating and healing. Foods like yogurt, buttermilk, ghee (clarified butter), honey, tender coconut water, rice, milk, water vegetables like white pumpkin, chayote squash (chow-chow),cucumbers are cooling to the body. While mangoes, jack-fruit, meat, tamarind are heat inducing foods that should be eaten in moderation.
According to Ayurveda, a meal must have six tastes called rasas – sweet, sour, pungent, salty, bitter and astringent. Each taste has a healing property to it and helps to maintain a well balanced body. Everyone must consume each of the six rasa in moderation on a daily bases because lack of one or too much of one can upset the body’s balance called doshas.With this concept in mind, our elders created meal (thali) like this one – sambhar with tamarin and other spices, rasam with little sourness and tangyness, two sides that are hot, pungent or sometime bitter, cooling yogurt and sweet like payasam.

If you have noticed, a typical sambhar has fenugreek in it, that gives a mild bitterness to the dish, the peppercorns in rasam is a digestive and liver stimulant, garlic aids in digestion, lowers cholesterol and increases your metabolism, turmeric powder is used in every dish as they have antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory properties and they also act as a diuretic. Ayurveda recommends the usage of coriander seeds for kidney ailments and liver disorders. The consumption of coriander extract can induce urination thereby help to reduce body fever. When used with fresh ginger, coriander seeds help to relieve respiratory tract infections and cough. Cumin seedsused in Indian curries are known to reduce superficial inflammation, aids in digestion and reduces flatulence. I remember my grandmother telling about the goodness of cumin seeds on female reproductive system. Chewing a teaspoon of it can help to reduce inflammation of uterus.

When I am launching the group “World on a plate” today, I wanted to share a post focusing on the benefits of Ayurveda and that Indian cooks are prescribing food not only for taste and flavor but also as best medicine for health. And this medicine has no harmful side effects. I am very proud to be a part of this ayurvedic heritage and very glad to have inherited this knowledge from my mother, aunts, grandmother and elders at home.
Moor kozhambu is a satifying South Indian side made with yogurt, fresh coconut and few staple Indian spices. Moor translates to buttermilk in my mother tongue Tamil and kozhambhu means something that’s thick as a curry/gravy. The authentic recipes uses peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds along with ginger, green chillies and fresh coconut. The use of lots of curry leaves will make the sauce taste even better. Generally this curry is made with okra (lady’s ginger), white pumpkin and taro but today I have made mine with steamed lentils balls.
Parruppu urundai moor kozhambhu (Steamed lentil balls cooked in a yogurt sauce)
Recipe: My mother
Serves: 4
For the lentil balls
1/2 cup toor dhal
1/2 cup channa dhal
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 finely chopped onion
1/2 cup grated coconut
3 tsp chilli powder
1tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbs coriander powder
1″ chopped ginger
10-12 curry leaves
2 tsp chopped corainder leaves
For the gravy
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 dry red chilly
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
A a pinch of asafoetida
a few curry leaves
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 cup thick yogurt

Soak in 1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon peppercorns – whole
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tablespoon channa dhal
Grind to a paste
3/4 cup fresh grated coconut
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
2 green chillies (use more or less according to taste)
1/2 cup water

Cilantro for garnishing
For the lentil balls
1. Soak the lentils in water for 3 hours. Drain the water completely and grind them into a thick paste without water but the blender gets stuck, add 1-2 tablespoon water to smooth them.
2. Add the onions, garlic, coconut, chilli powder, turmeric powder, coriander powder, ginger, curry leaves, coriander leaves, salt.Mix well to combine
3. Roll them into small balls, about the size of Brussels sprouts. Steam cook them in a pressure cooker (without whistle) for 10-12 minutes. Switch off the flame, remove and keep aside. Click here to take a look at some pictures.
For the yogurt sauce
1. Soak the ingredients listed under the Soak section for 34 houres. Drain water an grind to a smooth paste with coconut, fresh ginger,green chillies with little water, about 1/4 cup to start with.
2. Place 1 cup fresh yogurt in a fresh bowl, add the above paste, turmeric powder and salt. Stir well to combine and set aside.
3. In a large cooking pan ( I use non-stick pan), heat oil and once they ripple, add mustard seeds.When the mustard starts to pop and splutter, add the dry red chilly, asafoetida, curry leaves. Saute for 2 minutes on medium flame.
4. Pour the yogurt mixture, lentil balls and cook low flame until it boils over about 5 minutes. This step is very key as you don’t want the sauce to curdle. When it rises up to boil, immediately switch off the flame and cover.  Do not let the gravy boil once you’ve added the yogurt. Add little water if it looks too thick. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with white rice.
Additional notes
1. Since its made with non-fat yogurt and lentils, I have eaten them as a warm soup during South beach diet phase 1.
2. It can also be eaten with brown rice, quinoa or even limited quantity of white rice in phase 2 and 3 of South beach diet.
3. Again because of the lentils and yogurt, it is ideal for women with gestational diabetes and also for those who are prediabetic and diabetic.
4. As mentioned in the earlier part of the post, the ingredients used in the cooking (cumin, coriander seeds, pepper corns, ginger, yogurt and lentils) are part of Ayurvedic eating habits and this dish is so nutritious and packed with goodness.

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  1. What an informative post! Thoe vegetarian meatballs look really good too! Love dhal and all the spices used in your gravy. Can't wait to try it.

  2. Hey, these are full of good stuff regardless of whether they are made w/ meat or not! Years ago I used to work w/ a gal who hailed from Bangalore, and I was once or twice privileged to enjoy her home cooking – the stuff she made for herself and her family, and it was hands-down the best Indian food I've ever had. Once she made these, and I am still phantasizing about them. OMG, SOOOO GOOD!!! Thanks for posting the recipe, and for being part of this group!

  3. Wow, knowing eating can have all this benefits makes you feel much less guilty for indulging in delicious food! And those meatballs look very delicious!

  4. Hi Vijitha – This is amazing! I love to eat out at Indian restaurants, but haven't cooked any dish at home. I have a feeling that will change soon with your blog. Thanks for all the great information and the recipe!

  5. Wow this is certainly new to me, I love to have this twist in our meatballs post, nicely done.

  6. I love it. All the recipes are awesome & are best of indian dishes. Thank you for sharing these yummy recipes.

  7. This looks gorgeous 🙂 I've been trying to eat more lentils so I'll definitely have to give this a shot

  8. This looks so delicious! I love kofta and am happy to have this vegetarian version in my repertoire. I love learning about Ayurveda, it is so interesting! Excited to be part of this group with you!

  9. That is a fantastic event 🙂 Drooling after see so many different versions of meatballs! And I love the yogurt sauce.

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