Thursday, July 31, 2008

Milagu Kozambu - Black Pepper Gravy


The medicinal value of black pepper is well known. Milagu kozambu or Black Pepper Gravy is a welcome change after one has been subjected to rich food continuously. It is very good for digestion, and has an appealing taste as well. Taste buds tend to hibernate, leaving a bad taste in the mouth as a result of over eating or indigestion. Milagu kozambu activates the taste buds and induces hunger. It alleviates biliousness, mouth watering and bitterness in the tongue.

My sister shuns Milagu kozambu during dinner. She is terrified by the affliction of hunger pangs which would wake her up in the middle of the night. If you take a liking to the colour, taste and flavour of milagu kuzambu, you could savour it with hot rice and ghee, just like any other kozambu. A mixed vegetable salad, roasted papad, or a pachhadi (yoghurt dip) can make a delicious combination.

Hot milagu kozambu and rice, is often served after Yennae kuliyal or a traditional oil bath. An 'oil-bath' begins with a full body and head massage with warm sesame oil, and a bit of castor oil for the eyes, nose and navel. This is then followed by a rub down with freshly ground turmeric - natures best medicine for the skin. The oil is then washed away with Shikakai powder and other natural fragnant cleansers, and lots and lots of very hot water, as hot as you can you can take! (The picture alongside shows water getting boiled for a yennae kuliyal in our village! ) A meal that includes a course of hot milagu kozambu rice, after an oil bath leaves one feeling light and detoxed, and is truely a heavenly experience.

Black pepper - 2 tbsps
Cumin seeds – 2 tbsps
Tur dal (Red gram dal) - 2 tbsps
Dhania (Dry coriander seeds) – 2 tbsp
Asafoetida – 1 pinch
Curry leaves – a handful
Dried red chilly – 1
Salt – 2 tsps
Tamarind - a small lemon sized ball of tamarind
For Seasoning:
Sesame oil – 2 tsps
Mustard seeds – ¼ tsp
Urad dal (Black gram dal) – ½ tsp

1. Heat ½ tsp of oil. Add the asafoetida, and pepper and roast.
2. Next add cumin seeds, coriander seeds, tur dal, and red chilly and roast till the pepper cracks and the dal becomes golden in colour.
3. Add curry leaves and roast till it splutters.
4. Add the tamarind and remove from flame.
5. Allow the ingredients to cool, and then grind them finely. Add a 1 cup of water and salt and grind into a paste and set aside.
6. Heat oil in the now empty pan and add the mustard seeds and allow it to splutter.
7. Add urad dal and roast it till golden in colour.
8. Now add the ground paste with 1 more cup of water and salt.
9. Boil till the kozambu thickens and the aroma triggers off your digestive juices.
10. Remove from flame and serve with piping hot rice and a dollop of ghee.