Thambuli is stated to be one of the most cooling and appetising culinary recipes in the repertoire of Karnataka cuisine. Thambuli is known to be quite a rustic delicacy. It is an extremely clean recipe and the rawness of the thambuli makes it feel “Thampu” and equally delicious with rice!
Thambuli is basically a two – word Kannada nomenclature which splits into two words, “Thampu Huli” in Kannada, in turn, which connotes to a “Cooling Curry” (Thampu – Cool, Huli – Curry).
Every household has abounding different recipes of Thambuli in their kitty, which can be housed into a book, literally. Women make Thambulis from almost most of the greens available in the backyard, mildly spicy and lovingly made from the simplest raw ingredients.
Its interesting how all these Thambulis are made from similar spices but taste so different when made every single time. The origin of Thambuli traces back to aeons ago when sour curd had to be consumed quickly. Fresh Coconut, salt and spices cut down the tart flavours of sour curd.
These ingredients were stone ground in an ‘Oralu Kallu’ with some sour curd for moisture. I’m sure these tasted too valuable and satisfying. I only have fond memories of eating stone ground chutneys when I was very little, at my mother’s ancestral Udupi home. Probably that was also an age I would rarely touch anything spicy though.
Before the advent of mixies and blenders, our elders relished the stone crushed/ponded delights. The traces of stone age stopped at the previous generation with the ceasing of its application in culinary aspects. For now, we only have the mortar and pestle and the stone grinders to save ourselves from being deprived of these pretty much simplistic rustic amusements on our plates.
A recipe I adore is the one that involves the act of foraging. I have always cherished and revelled in cooking from foraged vegetables and odd herbs, weeds and ingredients. The simplicity of the old age recipes never ceases to stun me today.
As I keep repeat reading the book, “Indian Food: A Historical Companion”, written by K. T. Achaya, I find there are so many recipes still left uncovered, to be tried in the kitchens today. Some recipes are so intriguing, which just involve three to four ingredients. Of what I read from research papers and theories, Thambulis were stirred up from fruit peels, leaves, stems and roots of foraged lushes of the garden. Reading through these recipes just rouses up the Ghrelin hormone and induces that acute hunger within.
Today, I’ve picked this recipe of the “Dasavala Hoovina Thambuli”, aka, the hibiscus leaf Thambuli. There’s hardly any number of steps involved here to make this Thambuli, except for cleaning the flowers and squishing the flowers to extract their juices. Hop to the recipe card for a step by step process of making this Thambuli.
Thambuli is an ideal recipe to combat the sultriness of summer. You can savour this with rice at any time of the year, but ideally Thambuli is a summer cooler that replaces the regular rasam rice or sambhar rice. Usualy, Thambulis are served before starting a meal in weddings and a few occasions.
- Hibiscus Flowers - 10 (Pick clean and fresh flowers that are healthy)
- Coconut - 1/2 cup
- Sour Yoghurt - 1 cup
- Cumin Seeds - 1/4 tsp
- Black pepper corns - 1/4 tsp
- Table Salt - 3/4 tsp
- Coconut Oil - 1 tsp
- Mustard Seeds - 1/2 tsp
- Curry Leaves - 2-3 twigs
- Cumin Seeds -
Step 1: Wash the flowers and check for any aphids or tiny pests in the pollens and flower petals. Make sure you use naturally grown flowers for your culinary/medicinal needs.
Step 2: Remove and separate the petals. I reserved the pistil and stamens for my hair packs. But I do have seen some use these for the thambuli as well.
Step 3: Chop the petals with a knife first. And then squeeze the petals with your hands to bring out the juices from the petals.
Step 4: In a mixie, add the coconut, peppercorns, cumin seeds with half cup of sour yoghurt. Grind to a smooth paste.
Step 5: Add the contents of the mixie to the serving bowl. Add the remaining yoghurt. Clean up the mixie with a few table spoons of water and add it into the ground mixture. (Just a way of not losing any flavour :)) This is the base of your Thambuli.
Step 6: Add salt and the crushed petals to this base. Mix well. Your Thambuli is ready.
Step 7: Prepare the seasoning. In a wok add coconut oil. Once it heats up add cumin seeds, curry leaves and mustard seeds. Let the seeds splutter and add the seasoning to the Thambuli. Mix well and serve with warm rice.