Monday, June 24, 2013

Beetroot tambuli - Cool, cool tambuli - Summer essentials

Summer is officially here, I don't mean the weather. With schools out and a 2 month 'no school' period, it really felt like Summer but the feeling was short lived as DD packed her bags and left for a 10 day trip, visiting her cousin and off to a summer camp. It is back to the usual run at work, come back and do 'non work' stuff at home for the two of us :-). I am dreading the day when the little girl goes off to college :-(.  My childhood summers are always associated with unrestricted play time - our gang used to be all over the place, running around in streets, putting up a play in someone's back yard with hand made costumes, accessories and make ups or belting out songs we had learnt.  There were 3 older girls in our neighborhood who always had exams a month or so after ours ended and they used to be so mad at us for making all the racket through out the day and into the long evening hours not allowing them to study in peace :-).  Then we didn't really care.. My daughter's Summers are way different than mine, especially this one looks more packed than her regular school time. Times have changed and I am just going with it always hoping that she is having a great time and making memories for later on.

Summers are also the time for leisurely enjoyment of food, while the heat doesn't let you stand in front of a stove for long, there is no dearth of cool, cool dishes that define Summer. Tambulis are quintessential Kannadiga fare. Sure, there are distant cousins of this genre in other cuisines but the distinct aroma of roasted cumin, pepper and either the herbs or spices used in Tambulis are very unique. If you visit the Malnad region (Chikmagalur belt and the western ghats) or South Karnataka (Mangalore, Udupi), you will see a lot of tambulis in everyday home meals. Most common Tambulis are usually made with herbs (doddapatre ~ Cuban Oregano) or spices (fenugreek, sesame seeds) etc. I have written about ginger tambuli here. These are considered coolants because of the yogurt in them and hence you will see them frequently during Summer.

If less is more think how much more more should be :-) ~ Frasier Crane from Frasier
But when you come to Tambulis, less is actually more. It uses a very few ingredients and dishes out a flavorful and yummy side dish. By altering the consistency, you can use this as a dip or something to mix your rice in. 

My favorite tambuli is the doddapatre (dodda~big and patre~leaf) tambuli, it has an exotic flavor. The leaves are used to make deep fried bajjis (a delicacy) and also used to treat common head aches. I had a thriving bush of doddapatre in a pot before we moved and the leaves used to be picked often as all my friends liked it, I am waiting for my baby doddapatre to grow tall and strong here before I pick them. Then I will treat you all to the Doddapatre tambuli. The closest to this flavor is oregano which you can find in most garden stores but the regular Italian Oregano is not as thick or sturdy as the doddapatre. I finally found out that there is a Cuban oregano which is the real doddapatre, haven't found in stores anywhere here though it seems to be available online.
In Mysore, we always had this herb in the side garden, it used to grow wild and we would have frequent tambuli treats :-). I have a friend here from Mysore who also misses her tambuli and while I was talking about it to another friend who happily eats them in her Bengaluru home, she told me to make beet root tambuli instead as it is commonly prepared in Malnad homes. I don't remember nammamma making this ever but I followed the same basic ingredients of tambuli and made it with beets. It tasted fantastic and a very attractive pink hue (my picture does no justice to how it looked) made my day and satisfied my cravings for a good Tambuli. The dish is slightly sweetish because of the beets so balance it by using a day old (preferably home made) yogurt. Here is the recipe for all of you to try.

What do you need to make Beets tambuli? 
1 medium sized beet (1.5 cup grated)
3/4 cup yogurt
1 Tsp cumin
3/4 Tsp black pepper
1/4 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
1/2 Tsp ghee or oil
3/4 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 Tsp oil
1/2 Tsp mustard
1/2 Tso cumin
4-5 curry leaves
How do you make Beets tambuli? 
  • Wash, peel, remove ends and grate (medium size) the beet root. 
  • Heat the ghee or oil in a wide pan, add pepper and cumin. Fry for 30 seconds. 
  • Add the grated beet, salt and mix well. 
  • Cover, lower the heat to simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes or until beets soften up and loses the raw smell. Stir occasionally to ensure it doesn't get burnt. 
  • Switch off and let cool completely.
  • Blend into a smooth paste, adding coconut and yogurt. 
  • Take out into a serving bowl. 
  • Heat oil for seasoning, add mustard, cumin and let pop. Add curry leaves, switch off and pour it over the tambuli.
  • Tambuli is usually on the thinner side or has a runny consistency. Beets in this recipe add body, and I made it slightly thick today as we also used it as a dip. Adjust the consistency of the tambuli by adding buttermilk or water. 
  • It is important to cook the beets well in this recipe until the raw smell is gone. You do not need water but make sure, you lower the heat and cover the pan so it cooks in the steam. 
  • Use good quality yogurt (preferably home made) in this recipe. 


Meena Selvakumaran said...

i never tried grinding.i love the addition of curd.

kitchen queen said...

delicious and yummy beets tambuli.

Priya Suresh said...

I always want to make tambulis, but somehow am yet to make them, beets tambuli looks very vibrant and delicious.

Chitz said...

One comfort food that I wud love to have with plain rice.. We call it pachadi, though there are some small variations to the recipe here & there.. Loved the color & look of this tambuli :)