Thuvayal – South Indias Healthy Quick Fix Makes A Perfect Accompaniment For Rice

Highlights
  • Thuvayal is a popular dish across Tamil Nadu
  • Many thuvayals can last for three-four days without refrigeration
  • Thuvayals are not just convenient to make, but are also full of goodness

Exotic food. It’s strange how our definition of this concept changes depending on which point of our food journey we find ourselves at. When I was a school kid, burgers and pasta was my definition of exotic. Run of the mill South Indian dishes that formed part of our daily menus were the opposite of exotic. Some dishes were just a ‘no no’. Maybe they didn’t sound exotic enough or ‘cool’ enough. Thuvayal (I didn’t quite like the sound of this dish when I was a kid) was high on that list. That definition of exotic food has changed and how. Today it’s dishes that are deep rooted in our culinary heritage have oddly become exotic. Dishes that evoke nostalgia, remind you of a meal you had with your grandmother. 

The thuvayal is a popular dish across Tamil Nadu and works equally well mixed with rice and as an accompaniment for dosa. It’s a quick substitute for sambar, essentially the first course with rice. It’s a thick paste – thicker than chutney. Many thuvayals can last for three-four days without refrigeration. It’s a perfect pre-mix for rice, especially for lunchboxes when you don’t have access to a microwave in the office. Thuvayals are not just convenient to make, but are also full of goodness. From curry leaves to coriander along with nutritious vegetable peels of gourds are added to this healthy dish. Urad dal, tamarind and curry leaves are some of the essential ingredients of most thuvayals. The name of this dish probably came from thuvarpu or astringency – one of the six tastes (arusuvai) mentioned in Tamil literature. Thuvayals are full of sharp flavours and hence the name. 

Thuvayals are rarely served at restaurants, odd considering they’re relatively easy to make. A few weeks ago, I was at lunch at the Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort and Spa – one of the newest luxury beach resorts along the East Coast road that connects Chennai with Mamallapuram and Pondicherry. Most of the conversation during lunch with their culinary team centred around traditional Tamil Nadu cuisine and I was surprised to find that the resort’s Executive Chef – Mukesh Sharma and Junior Sous Chef – Jagadish Karuppiah had quite a few authentic recipes for thuvayals. 

Here Are The Recipes Of Thuvayals:

Karuvepillai (Curry leaves) Thuvayal
Recipe Courtesy: Mukesh Sharma, Executive Chef, Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa

(Also Read: The Perfect Sambar: Tips and Trick to Cook it to Perfection)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ingredients: 

  • Curry leaves: 100 grams
  • Cooking oil: 15 ml
  • Mustard seeds: 5 gm 
  • Urad dal: 2 gm
  • Green chilly: 10 grams
  • Asafoetida: 1/2 tsp
  • Tamarind pulp: 10 ml
  • Salt: 10 grams 
  • Bengal gram: 60 grams 

 

Method:

  1. Take a pan and heat oil in it. Add mustard seeds, when it splutters, add urad dal, Bengal gram lentil, green chillies and asafoetida. 
  2. When dal turns golden-brown in colour, add curry leaves to it. Saute it for a few seconds and switch off the flame.
  3. Once it cools, grind it along with salt and tamarind pulp to a slightly coarse paste with the required amount of water. 

Mullangi (Radish) Thuvayal
Recipe Courtesy: Mukesh Sharma, Executive Chef, Sheraton Grand Chennai Resort & Spa

(Also Read: This Is How You Make Restaurant-Style Kal Dosai)

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Mullangi (Radish) Thuvayal

Ingredients:

  • Radish: 250 grams
  • Onion: 50 grams
  • Groundnut oil: 15 ml
  • Channa dal: 50 grams
  • Urad dal: 10 grams
  • Dry red chillies: 10 grams
  • Curry leaves: 5 grams
  • Tamarind Pulp: 20 ml
  • Salt: 15 grams
  • Garlic: 10 grams 

Method: 

  1. Heat peanut oil in a pan and add chana dal, urad dal and dry red chillies to it. Saute on a low flame till lentils turn golden-brown. 
  2. Now, add curry leaves and sliced onion to it. Saute them for a minute. Add turmeric powder and radish to it. Saute well until they are cooked. Keep it aside for it to cool down.
  3. Once it cools, grind it along with salt and tamarind pulp to a slightly coarse paste, adding the required amount of water.

Thengai (Coconut) Thuvaiyal Recipe

This is a time-tested family recipe and is one of my favourite thuvayals. 

Ingredients:

  • Coconut (finely grated): 1 Cup
  • Urad dal: 3 table spoons 
  • Red chillies: 3 – 4 
  • Tamarind: size of a small lemon
  • Asafoetida: 1/4 teaspoon 
  • Curry leaves: a few sprigs
  • Coconut oil: 1/2 teaspoon  
  • Salt to taste 
  • Mustard seeds: 1/4 teaspoon 

                 
Method: 

  1. Heat the oil on a pan and add urad dal, red chillies and fry till dal turns golden-brown.
  2. Add tamarind, asafoetida, curry leaves and stir for a minute and turn off. 
  3. Allow it to cool and then grind to a very slightly coarse, adding required amount of water. 
  4. Temper this paste with mustard seeds and curry leaves and serve. 

These three recipes are full of sharp flavours and thick textures. The coconut and radish thuvayals work best with hot rice and a dollop of ghee, while the nutritious curry leaves thuvayal works equally well as an accompaniment with a crispy dosa or a fluffy idli. 

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