Rice sticks with Morkuzhambu & Kovakkai fry

This is a great combination of dishes for a simple and light dinner or lunch.  The rice sticks/vermicelli are usually found in shops as in a dry form and you can just add hot water to rehydrate them. They can be seen in many western and eastern cuisine and are quite versatile as they can be a main dish or alongside other dishes as part of a bigger meal. The ‘Morkuzhambu’ is a South Indian dish made in many ‘brahmin’ houses and is similar to the yoghurt based Bengali ‘Doi bengan’ and North Indian ‘Kadhi’. Morkuzhambu can be made with different vegetables but the yoghurt base remains the same.  ‘Kovakkai’ is a great little vegetable that is also known as ‘Tindora’ in North India and looks like a gherkin, but not that often seen in South Indian menus.

brown vermicelli PM

RICE STICKS

Ingredients:

  • Rice sticks/Vermicelli (I like to use the healthier brown rice variety)
  • Salt
  • Mustard seeds
  • Cashew nuts, broken in half
  • Curry leaves (if available)

Method: Make the rice sticks/vermicelli as per the instructions on the packet (I just soak them in hot water for 5 mins and then drain). Temper the mustard seeds & curry leaves in a little oil and when the seeds start popping add the cashew nuts and saute until golden brown. Then add the rice sticks, salt and a little more oil and mix well under the lowest heat.

MORKUZHAMBU

MKA Tips: don’t overheat the ‘Morkuzhambu’ dish as the yoghurt may curdle! Also, make sure the yoghurt is mixed well to avoid lumps as this could also cause curdling and doesn’t look very appetising.

You can use a variety of veg for this dish e.g: courgette/zucchini, marrow, okra, chow chow/chayote, pumpkin and also Vada.

Ingredients:

  • Plain yoghurt – 1 cup /360g (the more sour the better)
  • Cooked Veg of your choice – I have used 1 courgette/zucchini in the photo
  • Turmeric – 2 – 3 pinches
  • Salt – to taste

To Grind:

  • Coconut – 1/4 cup or 20g, shredded
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tablespoon
  • Green chillies – 3-5 depending on size
  • Roasted gram (pottukadalai in Tamil) – 1 tablespoon

To Temper:

  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • 2 red chillies
  • Curry leaves – 4-5 leaves
  • Asafoetida – a pinch
  • Oil – 1 teaspoon

Method:

  1. Take all the ingredients under the ‘To Grind’ section above, and grind together with a little water until it becomes a coarse paste.
  2. Mix the paste with the yoghurt, turmeric and salt until well combined. I find a whisk is effective at getting rid of any unwanted lumps in the yoghurt.
  3. Add the cooked veg and heat the mixture on a low flame – but don’t let it boil! Take off the heat and keep aside.
  4. Temper the mustard seeds, chillies, curry leaves & asafoetida and add.

KOVAKKAI FRY

Ingredients:

  • Kovakkai/Tindora, cut lengthways (julienne) – I used about 2 cups/133g
  • Sambar powder – 1 tablespoon
  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Urad dal – 1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves – 4 – 5 leaves
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil, 2 tablespoons

Method:

  1. Temper the mustard seeds in the oil and when they start to pop, add the urad dal until they turn golden brown. Then add the curry leaves.
  2. Add the cut Kovakkai, sambar powder and salt and mix well. Cover and cook for 5 mins over a medium heat.
  3. Saute for a further 10 mins or until cooked to your preference. I like them ‘al dente’ with a little crunch, but I know others prefer to cook for longer. If you prefer well-cooked veg for this dish then you can place the veg with a little water in the microwave for 5 mins, before mixing with the yoghurt.

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