Thalippu (=seasoning) vadagam is a very particular seasoning item in my house. Every summer, along with pickle and vadam (fryum) making, vadagam is on the list. I remember "hating" the peeling process of pearl onions given by my aunt. Quiet daunting task, but the final product is worth. My aunt is an expert, she does this one very meticulously every summer. She makes sure no water is involved in the whole process. She pounds the pearl onion and garlic using mortar and pestle (called Ammi khal and kuzhavi) and mix with fenugreek, curry leaves, mustard, urad dhal drizzle with good amount of castor oil. All the ingredients are mixed thoroughly and shaped into balls. Those balls are kept under sunlight for many days until they turn solid like a rock but still breakable. Vadagam are stored for years without refrigeration.
I always bring along with my spice this "Thalippu Vadagam" and store it for years.
We use to season: sambar, kootu, Kaara kuzhambu, fish gravy and chicken dish. Usually the mustard, urad dhal, channa dhal, fennugreek seasoning is substituted by a teaspoon of this vadagam. This Vadagam chutney is very aromatic and have a very peculiar taste.
Those vadagam balls are broken and little tsp of seasoning goes a long way!
Yield: probably for 2 adults serving
Vadagam: 1 1/2 tbps
Onion: 1 medium- diced
Tomato: 1 medium-diced
Red Chillies: 4
Tamarind: 1/2 to 1 inch
Oil: 1 tsp
Salt: 1/4 tsp less or more
Mustard: 1/2 tsp
Urad dhal: 1/4 tsp
Oil: 1/2 tsp
Heat oil and fry the vadgam, add the onion fry few more minutes. Now add the red chillies, tomatoes,tamarind and salt. Cook until the tomatoes loose shape.
Let it cool completely and grind into coarse paste.
Season in oil, the mustard and urad dhal and mix with chutney.
Serve with hot idlis or dosai.