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Ellukari- JFI for Love

April 27, 2008

“Ellu” in tamil means sesame seeds. I wish I could give you a specific meaning for “kari” without resorting to the commonly misused term “curry” which is often used to describe the gravy or sauce of a dish. The problem I have with the over-generalization of curry as a sauce is that in Indian cooking the sauce is integral to the preparation of the dish and is not prepared or cooked separate from what the “star” ingredient is. Yes, there are some dishes such as Kofta and Kadhi that you can “assemble” before you serve. For the most part, the meat or the vegetable is cooked in the gravy from the beginning of the preparation. Enough of my tirade….

So, ellukari is a palakkad iyer specialty that was a staple in our home growing up, when Chenai (or Senai Kazhangu or Yam) was in season. The other, more prevalent preparations of chenai in the south is to fry it or “roast” in oil (this is a typical tamilnadu preparation) or Chenai upperi or mazhukuparatti (these are Kerala style preparations). This recipe of ellukari is my mom’s- I love the recipe for its simplicity and yet the complexity of the flavors it has..not to mention that a little bit is enough to get those taste buds going!!

My mom is a very creative cook- she finds uses for ingredients in Indian cooking that one wouldn’t think of- for example, tomatillos. It was my mom who started using tomatillos as a substitute for tamarind in sambar and rasam. I remember when growing up, we used to taste a different cuisine almost everyday- one day it would be a maharashtrian thalipeeth, the next day a punjabi kadhi and then a traditional south india meal. I think I’m inspired to tinker with recipes because of my mom, and get the passion for discovering a myriad of tastes from her…..Ellukari is my contribution to Pedatha’s JFI event- JIHVA for Love.

What you Need

  1. 1 Pkt Frozen Yam�
  2. 4 Dried Red Chillies
  3. 1/2 tsp cooking oil
  4. 2 T Urad dal
  5. 1 cm piece of Asafoetida (or 1/2 tsp of asafoetida powder)
  6. 4 Curry leaves
  7. 2 tsp of black sesame seeds
  8. 1/4 cup of coconut (optional)�
  9. 1 Tbsp of Tamarind concentrate
  10. Jaggery (optional)
  11. 1/2 tsp of Turmeric powder
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 cup of water
  14. For Tempering- 1 tsp of cooking oil (sesame oil will give additional flavor),1 tsp of mustard seeds, 1 tsp of Methi (fenugreek) seeds

How its done

  • Defrost the yam and cut the pieces into smaller pieces (tastes better in small pieces)
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottom saucepan and add the mustard. When the mustard starts spluttering, add the methi seeds.
  • Now, add the defrosted yam and roast for a few seconds.�
  • Then add the tamarind, water, salt and turmeric and let boil till the raw smell of tamarind is gone- 3-5 minutes.
  • In the meanwhile,in a small pan, roast in 1/2 tsp of oil ingredients 2 through 7 till the urad dal is light brown in color and a nutty aroma is emitted from the pan. If using coconut, add it at this stage, mix and turn off the heat. Grind this masala into a smooth paste.
  • When the yam is half cooked in the tamarind water, add the masala paste and cook for 5 minutes till completely cooked. If using jaggery, add it after the yam is cooked and heat through for a minute before turning off the heat.
Ellukari is best eaten with rice, with a mild vegetable dish on the side. Its spicy and tangy and leaves you licking your fingers (please, do eat it in true desi style- thats the best way to taste the flavors of Indian food!). I made this as part of my sanjeevanam-inspired meal (seen in the picture). Enjoy!
  1. visalam permalink

    Comment–The goodness of ellukari is that it’s good for diabetic patients(in which case jaggiri shd be omitted) and it stays long, and so can be ur saviour ona rainy day!!!1

  2. When you say “yam”, do you mean “chenaikizhangu” (Tamil name)? These English names for familiar veggies sometimes confuses things…!

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Jihva for Love - Round-up « whose food we eat, their song we sing
  2. Jihva for Love – Round-up of 40 Tribute recipes | Pritya

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