Milagu kuzhambu is a concoction made primarily of the digestive pepper and cumin, roasted and cooked with a delicious melange of ingredients like tamarind, fenugreek, asafetida and jaggery, to yield a tangy-sweet-spicy dish that is as scrumptious as it is medicinal! Enjoy it with some hot rice and ghee or as a side for dosas and idlis or even as a spread for roti rolls and breads.
Ingredients (makes approximately a cup of kuzhambu):
- Cumin seeds (jeera) (1 heaped tsp)
- Black pepper seeds (1 tsp)
- Split pigeon peas (tur dhal) (1 heaped tsp)
- Fenugreek (methi) seeds (1/4 tsp)
- Red chilly (I used byadige chillies) (1/2 chilly or per taste)
- Mustard seeds (3/4th tsp)
- Asafetida (hing) powder (1/4 tsp)
- Tamarind (small 1 inch diameter ball)
- Curry leaves (a handful)
- Jaggery (1 tsp)
- Salt (to taste)
- Sesame oil (1 tbsp)
- Dry roast (toast) the dry ingredients (not the curry leaves) separately one after the other.
- Wash the curry leaves thoroughly and grind them with the roasted spices by adding water as necessary, to make it a well ground paste.
- On a pan on medium flame, add sesame oil.
- When the oil is hot, add mustard seeds.
- When the seeds start spluttering, add asafetida, ground paste, jaggery and salt.
- Adjust the water level if needed. The gravy will start thickening due to the lentils in the ground paste.
- Switch the flame to simmer, after the gravy reaches a good boil. Adjust the tastes as necessary.
- Serve with hot rice and ghee or as a side to paruppu sadam, dosa, idli etc.
Sweet (tur dhal, jaggery), sour (tamarind), salty (salt), bitter (cumin, curry leaves, fenugreek), pungent (pepper, chilly, cumin), astringent (curry leaves, asafetida).
The main action or effect (prabhava) of milagu kuzhambu is to strengthen the digestive fire (deepana) and digest the food and other toxic build-up in the body (pachana). The ingredients used tend to be pitta aggravating, but only if used in excess. In moderate quantities, these very ingredients stimulate the digestive juices and work to balance the digestive system and all the doshas. This recipe is very balanced in terms of tastes – it has components from all 6 tastes in a delightfully aromatic and delicious concoction. Each of the ingredients used is powerful and medicinal on its own – cumin, pepper, fenugreek, asafetida, curry leaves, jaggery – and when combined together make for a highly effective digestive aid.
With adequate care taken to not overdo the pepper, chilly, tamarind and salt, this recipe scores very highly on sattva due to its excellent medicinal properties and cleans up the digestive tract, leaving the body and mind feeling light, rejuvenated and satisfied.