Mulakuvaruthapuli is to Keralites (atleast to those in Palakkad) as Vathakuzhambu to Tamilians. So you get the drift now. I am not sure if this dish popular in other parts of Kerala. I guess this more of a region specific food. This is one of the comfort foods. A handful of pear onions or shallots and one or two green chillies sauteed and cooked in a thin tamarind sauce and a seasoning of mustard seeds with curry leaves is all that this simple recipe asks for. with some roated papad and hot rice, you have a meal ready with in minutes. Now, this was not a regular at home. As I mentioned, we being Kerala Iyers, Vathakozhambu was more popular. During my growing up years, when we were living as joint family, the only dish cooked with pearl onion was Vengaya Sambhar. Other than that, it was not added to any other dish.
I was introduced to this from my neigbor V aunty. Aunty makes this often and the popular side at their home was egg fry. I have tasted this puli many times at her house. Many years later we moved to our own house in the same neighborhood. It was then Amma started making this at home. Preparing these kind of dishes takes me down the memory lane and its an opportunity for me to relive those memories. Now a days, I don't make this very often. Last time when I made this after a long gap, I had to call V Aunty to share my memories of this and many other dishes indroduced to me by her.
Pearl onions /Sambhar vengayam/Cheriya Ulli- 10 nos
Green chilly - 2 nos
Tamarind - gooseberry sized
Tumeric a pinch
A tiny piece of jaggery (Optional)
Oil - 1 tblspn
Mustard seeds - 1 tspn
Soak tamarind in 2 cups of warm water for 10 minutes. Soaking in warm water helps to extract the juice fully. Peel onions and slice it into two if they are slightly big in size. Heat a kadai with a tablespoon of oil. Add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add the green chllies slit into two and curry leaves. Then add the shallots. Saute till it is transparent. Add the extracted tamarind juice. Add salt and turmeric. If you are adding jaggery, you can add it. Jaggery will mellow down the tangy taste sinec no other spices are added. I usually don't add jaggery. Bring to a boil and simmer for few minutes. Its ready to serve.
Usually its made with pearl onions. The slight hint of sweetness in these kind of onions complements the tanginess from tamarind.