According to ancient Indian medicine systems Siddha and Ayurveda, tamarind fruit is believed to have numerous healing powers. It is a quintessential ingredient of the commonly prepared south Indian curries like sambar, rasam, or kuzhambu. In a recent study it was found that we can largely reduce the loss of nutrients while cooking vegetables by boiling them in tamarind juice instead of plain water, which we have been following for generations. Besides we also make pungent tamarind soup (puli thanni) and sweet tamarind juice (panakam) that have been customarily served on the day of fasting for its excellent detoxifying property. Obviously tamarind juice or tamarind soup can be included into our detox diet which also aids in weight loss.
Our grandparents used old black tamarinds alone, but later we switched to new brown tamarinds as we don’t like to see a darker sambar. According to Siddha medicine, new tamarinds are considered as kapha dosha pacifier, whereas old tamarinds act as kapha & vata pacifier. So I have started using old tamarind for making pulikulambu or other darker curries, and new tamarind exclusively for sambar.
Tamarind soup is a traditional winter (or monsoon) soup, we used to take tamarind soup and lentils chutney along with rice, and I had seen my non-vegetarian friends taking tamarind soup along with roasted sun-dried fish. Whenever my grandmother sees the first spell of rains, she asks my aunts to prepare puli thanni & paruppu thuvaiyal, now I understand that it is mainly because her old tamarind pacifies kapha & vata dosha that are normally aggravated during monsoon.
It tastes divine while taking puli thanniyum paruppu thuvaiyalum along with kai-kuthal arisi sadam (traditional hand-pounded rice) and sutta (or microwaved) appalam.
Generally we don’t value the fruits, vegetables, spices, or herbs which are available plentifully and also we fail to appreciate the goodness of a meal if it is prepared with humble inexpensive ingredients. Puli thanniyum paruppu thuvaiyalum is one such meal that does not get enough recognition especially by the teens & children. I feel it is we, the parents, have the responsibility to encourage the next generation to take healthy meals that are passed onto us by our parents & grandparents. So here is the recipe for puli thanni & paruppu thuvaiyal, you may also check out the preparation of traditional panakam using tamarind juice taken during sashti viratham at the end of this post.
Puli thanni (tamarind soup)
Yields: 650 ml
Time taken: 5 min.
- A lemon sized old tamarind
- 1 tsp of sesame oil
- Mustard seeds
- Black gram (urad dal)
- Bengal gram
- 2 red chillies
- A few curry leaves
- 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp of asafoetida powder (hing)
- 750 ml of water
- 3/4 tsp of salt
- 1/4 tsp of powdered jaggery (optional)
- Microwave tamarind in 50 ml water.
- Extract tamarind juice by using remaining 700 ml of water and keep aside.
- Heat a pan with oil in medium flame.
- Add mustard seeds, black gram, Bengal gram and fry for few seconds.
- Tear curry leaves & split red chillies into pieces and add into the pan.
- Add chilli powder, turmeric powder & hing and fry for few seconds.
- Pour tamarind juice into the pan and bring it to a boil.
- Add salt & jaggery and boil the soup until jaggery is dissolved.
- Remove from flame.
- Sprinkle fresh coriander leaves and serve the soup hot.
Paruppu Thuvaiyal (chickpeas chutney)
- 1/2 cup of Bengal gram (split chickpeas)
- 5 red chillies
- 3 pieces of coconut meat (each 1″)
- 2 garlic pods
- 3/4 tsp of salt
- Heat a pan with sesame oil (1/2 tsp) in medium flame.
- Add Bengal gram into the pan and roast until the flavor is released.
- Add red chillies and fry for few seconds in low flame until heated up.
- Remove from flame and transfer to a large plate to cool them down.
- Grind all the ingredients as shown below into a coarse or smooth thuvaiyal.
- Mix paruppu thuvaiyal & cold-pressed sesame oil (chekku ennai) with kaikuthal arisi sadam, and serve with puli thanni and sutta appalam.
Panakam (tamarind juice)
We can prepare tamarind extract after microwaving it in 50 ml of water for a minute and then mix jaggery powder, ginger powder & cardamom powder into tamarind juice to prepare delicious panakam. If you treat this as detox juice it is preferred to take panakam after sunset.