It is late December and the Kaalu frenzy has started! Here Kaalu/ field beans mingles with other winter vegetables and transforms into a delicious and flavoursome dish called Thaalagam.
INGREDIENTS FOR THE THAALAGAM POWDER
Sesame seeds - 4 tbsps
Split Black gram dal - 4 tbsps
Raw rice - 2 tsps
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Pepper - 1/4 tsp
Red chillies - 8
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Fresh grated coconut OR Dry coconut(Copra) gratings - 4 tbsps
TO MAKE THE THAALAGAM POWDER
1.Dry roast sesame seeds in a pan and remove it into a dry plate.
2. Heat a drop of oil in the same pan and add split black gram dal, rice, fenugreek seeds, pepper and red chillies.
3.Roast till golden in colour and add asafoetida.
4. Remove the roasted ingredients on to a plate when you get a pleasant aroma.
5. Add fresh coconut gratings to the same pan and roast on low flame till golden in colour.
( Dry coconut and sesame seeds are a flavoursome combination. If you are using copra instead of fresh coconut gratings, there is no need to roast the same.)
6. Cool the roasted ingredients and grind with roasted coconut gratings / copra into a moderately smooth powder.
OTHER INGREDIENTS TO MAKE THAALAGAM
Pumpkin - 1/4 kg
Field beans / kaalu - 2 cups
Broad beans/ Avarakkai( Chopped ) - 2 cups
Choyate / Chowchow ( peeled and chopped ) - 2 cups
Carrots ( peeled and chopped ) - 2 cups
Baby eggplants - 12
Taro - 12
Tamarind - The size of a plum
Powdered jaggery (Optional) - 1/4 tsp.
Salt - 2 tsps
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Sesame oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few.
TO MAKE THAALAGAM
1. Wash, peel and chop Pumpkin, Carrots and Choyate into big cubes.
2. String the Flat beans and chop them.
3. Remove the stalk and slit the Eggplants lengthwise into four taking care not to separate them at the bottom.
4. Wash and cook Taro till done, peel and dice into thick pieces.
5. Soak tamarind in warm water and extract the juice and keep aside.
6. Wash Kaalu and cook with Carrots with enough water.
7. When half done add Choyate and Flat beans and continue to cook adding more water if necessary.
8. After a while add the Pumpkin and the Eggplants.
9. When the Pumpkin is half done add tamarind juice, salt, turmeric powder and jaggery if you are using it.
10. Cook till all the vegetables are done and then add the cooked and diced Taro. Do not allow the vegetables to become mushy.
11. Mix Thaalagam powder with little water and blend the paste into the vegetables.
12. Switch off flame when the Thaalagam thickens.
13. Heat sesame oil splutter the mustard seeds and add the curry leaves.
14. Pour the seasoning over the Thaalagam.
Enjoy the delicious and flavoursome Thaalagam with Thiruvaadirai Kali after offering them to Lord Shiva.