Garden fresh vegetable curry!
My grandmother was a very thrifty woman and made food for an army with ingredients mainly from her garden. She raised 8 kids and had to feed the helpers who worked in our farm. She was a tiny woman who was very resourceful, always brisk and active. I have never seen her sit down, except to chew her betel leaves. She had a copper box with special compartments for betel nuts and all other accompaniments. There was a small copper container for slaked lime paste. She would mix everything in the right proportion and chew it leisurely. We, kids were not allowed to touch the box as it had a bit of tobacco tucked under the leaves. I tried her betel leaf chewing mix once and it was strong to make me feel quite drowsy.
The most interesting curry she made was a simple but tasty curry with vegetables that grew in her garden. She would call all the kids and go to the field looking for field beans and lentil pods. She made it a game by checking who collected the most. Then she would scamper through the back yard garden for solitary gourds, drumstick or a tomato here and a yam there. All those assorted vegetables were used to make this very flexible side dish for rice.
Drumstick which is a long stick like vegetable gives this curry a distinct taste. Organic vegetables and fresh coconut makes it irresistible. She would grind coconut, cumin and fresh turmeric rhizome on a flat, granite grinding stone which adds a unique flavour. My grandmother used a stone pot called, Kalchatti to cook this curry. Oh, the taste was simply delicious. Being a picky eater those days, she knew this was my favourite curry and made it often, when I was on vacation at her place in Kerala.
- ½ cup thur dhal (split lentil)
- 1 drumstick
- 1 cup cut vegetables – ash gourd, bottle gourd, yam, beans or any vegetable
- 1 medium onion, chopped into chunks
- 1 tomato
- ½ cup grated coconut
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp urad dhal
- 2 red chillies
- few curry leaves
- Wash all the vegetables and cut them into long pieces.
- Cook thur dhal until it is mushy.
- Grind coconut and cumin into a fine paste.
- In a heavy bottom pan, cook onion and all vegetables in a little water.
- Add mashed thur dhal and ground coconut paste to it and boil well.
- After it boils add turmeric powder and salt.
- Add chopped tomato.
- Heat a small pan and add vegetable oil.
- When it is smoking hot, splutter mustard seeds, add urad dhal, curry leaves and red chillies.
- Fry them and pour on the boiling curry.
- Stir curry well and turn off the heat.