Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Kuzhambu and kimchi

 Before i proceed i must halt to throw some light on the letters 'zh' that i have mentioned in the word 'Kuzhambu'. It is not pronounced like the zee in zoo or zebra. This phonetic sound is unique to the South Indian languages Tamil and Malayalam. In fact my language is called Tamizh and not Tamil as its widely known. Its close to Rrr and la but unique. Found a video(short one, about 1.5 to 2 mins) on youtube describing it, check it out and tell me if you got it right :D 

Coming to kuzhambu , it basically means curry. The word curry is kind of looked at as a single item or flavour in Asian cuisines but these sauces that we have with our rice is of umpteen varieties in each country.

In South Indian food , the base ingredient used to make our curry is something sour like tamarind. The base is usually tamarind extract which when mixed with the right spices  we get a variety of curries.  We have a few variations where instead of tamarind we use sour buttermilk. 

Our typical lunch would be some rice served with a kuzhambu, some vegetable and curd. By altering the vegetables and spices and the lentils that go in we alter the menu everyday.

Sambar is the most famous of them all which is gotten by cooking vegetables in tamarind extract and then adding toor dal (lentils) and a blend of spices to it. A plate of steaming hot rice with some onion sambar and potato fry would immediately spring nostalgia of  relaxed family Sunday afternoons to so many of us.

Then we have Venthiya kuzhambu made with fenugreek seeds, mor kuzhambu made with buttermilk, garlic kuzhambu and so on and so forth.

Food from other lands :  

I sometimes watch korean drama series . Being a vegetatarian, a lot of food items that are shown are off my palatable list. But one thing i have wanted to taste in its authenticity is the Kimchi which to my knowledge is a sort of pickled radish/cabbage. 

Nowadays with kpop and kdrama gaining never before popularity we do get bottled versions in stores but i would like to taste the authentic home made version some day. 

Food for thought

Today I will include two quotes as I could not pick one.

1) Keezhorainum Thaazha Urai.

Keezhor - someone lower than oneself - may refer to a subordinate or someone in a lower financial position or social status 

Aayinum - even if

Thaazha(same pronounciation :) ) - softly or low voice

Urai - speak 

It basically means that no matter who it is , even those who are placed lower than you in society, they deserve to be spoken to respectfully . Speak softly and politely to everyone, to even those who serve you . 

2) Katrathu kaimannalavu kallaathathu ulagalavu

This is a quote that stresses both on learning and humility. 

Kai - hand; mann - sand/mud ; alavu - quantity

Ulagu - world 

Katrathu - what we have learnt

What we have learnt or already know is only like a fistful of mud , compared to what we dont know or have not learnt which is as vast as the whole world.

So keep learning, but be polite! :) 


  1. Your note on the sound zh attracted my attention more than kuzhambu and sambar. Maybe because I'm a language teacher and am interested in sounds and phonemes.

    1. Nice to know.... that letter is difficult even for those who grew up using lll in its place...like vaalappalam instead of vaazhappazham (banana)

  2. Hahhaa! So its not just me- every1 who knows Tamil, makes its a point to bring out how "ZH" is pronounced. Marathi language prounounces L in 2 ways- i relate the tamil "Zh" slightly with the second "L" marathi.

  3. I never knew the sound of kuzhambu is like that. I heard about it..now i know why my friend ezhil is called Erril..I got attracted to kimchi too through K dramas :) never tasted an authentic one

  4. Well thanks to K-Dramas I have been obsessing over Khimchi but I am yet to taste kuzhambu. Will Try. Loved the quote.

  5. I am told the English translation of your item number 2 (Food for thought) is prominently displayed in NASA.

  6. Wow I didn't know the right pronunciation until now. Your posts always make me feel hungry 🙂 My extra two kilos are on you 😜🤣

    Hope you check out my A-Z challenge posts in which I am trying to have every sentence of the story (one chapter a day) start with the letter of the day https://momandideas.com/

  7. There's food for thought (the quotes you pick) and food for the soul--all these delicacies--leaving your post satiated:) Thank you.

  8. Those are great quotes! I will have to listen to the sound tomorrow when my computer is not hooked up to the news.

  9. I am a very picky eater, and I know I could never try kimchi!

  10. Snap! I too had Kimchi in my theme - find a recipe and try making it, it's not hard, for sure you have all the spices you need to hand...

  11. I do like kimchi a lot, but unfortunately I don't find many options for it in the stores. Years ago I used to have a Korean neighbor who made their own kimchi. They apologized for the smell, but offered me some to sample. I loved it! I assured them the smell didn't bother me. I was better than the store bought stuff in jars, although I do like that kind. It's just kind of expensive where I've found it. I should go to one of the Asian markets near me.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  12. Some of my Mom's favourites - love having what she makes. Love all the varieties you have mentioned! These beautiful quotes you keep pulling out of the magician's hat, how did you keep consolidating these? There are so many beautiful quotes, I had not even heard of most of these! Enjoying the reads.

    Have you read the heart wrenching tale of two childhood friends at The Kite Runner