Vepampoo Khuzhambu

Neem flowers are called as vepampoo in tamil. Vepampoo has lot of medicinal properties. It’s mainly used to improve digestion, appetite and detoxification of the gut. It is also used as a natural ingredient for deworming. In the traditional South Indian cooking, vepampoo is used in many recipes like thogaiyal ( variety of chutney), as a garnish for rasam and pachadi ( raita).
It’s is very beneficial to include vepampoo in the diet at least once a week.
Few days back, on a television show, saw a very interesting Khuzhambu made with vepampoo. I tried the same with few changes in the recipe. It indeed came out very well. It is very easy to make and very delicious. My family loved it and I hope you all would like it too:)

Vepampoo- 2 tbsps
Chinna vengayam ( shallots)- 1/2 cup
Drumsticks – 2
Garlic – 12-15 cloves
Tomatoes- 2
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Mustard – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds ( jeera)- 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds ( vendhayam/ methi)- 1/2 tsp
Red chillies- 2
Tamarind- small lemon sized
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder( dhania)- 2 tsps
Fennel ( sombu/ saunf) powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil – 5 tbsps
For the masala
Pepper – 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds- 1/4th tsp
Raw rice – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Red chillies- 4-5
Grated coconut- 2 tbsps
Soak tamarind in 1 cup of water for 30 mins. Squeeze well and take the extract and keep it aside.
Peel and wash chinna vengayam and garlic.
Wash and cut drumsticks into 2 inches pieces.
Wash and chop tomatoes finely.
Roast vepampoo in a tsp of oil and keep it aside.
In a pan, add 1 tsp of oil and roast all the ingredients mentioned for masala, except coconut , till it gives a good aroma. Cool and grind along with coconut to a coarse powder.
Heat a pan. Add rest of the oil. Add mustard. When it starts spluttering, add cumin seeds, red chillies, fenugreek and curry leaves. Sauté for few seconds.
Now, add garlic and continue to sauté for few more mins.
Add chinna vengayam and drumsticks. Sauté till the onions turn pink and add the chopped tomatoes.
Sauté for a min and then add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, fennel powder and salt to taste.
Mix well and cook for few mins. Add the tamarind extract and jaggery , mix well and check for seasonings.
Let it boil till the raw smell of tamarind goes away.
To the masala powder, add little water and mix well. Add this mixture to the boiling gravy and mix well. Keep stirring and let it boil for few mins. You can see the Khuzhambu becoming thick(if it’s very thick , correct the consistency to that of sambar by adding water).
Finally add the roasted vepampoo, mix well and let it simmer on a low flame for few mins.
Serve the hot, tangy and spicy Khuzhambu with hot steamed rice drizzled with some melted ghee or sesame oil:)