How to make the Paruppu Urundai -
Wash the lentils and soak them together for about an hour. In the meantime, prepare the rest of ingredients like peeling and chopping the onions and garlic.
Once the lentils are soaked and ready, drain it and then grind into a thick paste adding just salt. Do not grind it too smooth. Leave it a little coarse. Transfer the ground lentil paste in a bowl.
In a small pan, dry roast the cinnamon and poppy seed until it is aromatic. Make a fine powder, using a mortar and pestle.
Add this to the bowl along with the ground lentil.
In the same pan, roast the coconut until it turns light brown. Add this to the bowl as well.
Also roast the finely chopped onion, garlic and green chilies and add it to the bowl along with other ingredients.
Add 1 teaspoon of chili powder and ¼ teaspoon of fennel powder to the rest of the ingredients and mix well using your hands.
Make small balls out of this mixture and keep them aside.
How to make Kuzhambu -
Soak the tamarind in about a cup of hot water and then squeeze the juice. Add one more cup of water and squeeze it out as well.
Grind ¼ cup of grated coconut and ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds into a paste and keep it aside.
Use a slightly wider pan to make this kuzhambu as it helps in allowing the lentils balls / paruppu urundai to cook well.
Heat the gingelly oil. This kuzhambu needs quite a bit of oil for flavor. You could reduce the oil if needed but the kuzhambu tastes better with more oil.
Add the mustard seeds and methi seeds (vendhayam) and let it fry for about 10 seconds.
Now add the thinly slice onions, garlic and curry leaves and fry them until the onions are lightly brown.
Add the tomatoes and saute until the tomatoes are slightly soft.
Now add the red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Let it fry for about 10 seconds.
Add the tamarind juice and mix well. Also add the ground coconut and fennel mixture. Mix well and let the kuzhambu come to a boil.
Simmer the flame and let the kuzhambu boil until the oil starts floating on top. If the kuzhambu has thickened when boiling, add about a cup more of water and let it boil. We want the kuzhambu to be slightly on the thinner side as it will thicken when the paruppu urundai is added to it.
Finishing the Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu -
Once the kuzhambu has boiled well (takes about 15 to 20 minutes), slowly add the paruppu urundai that we had prepared earlier into the kuzhambu. Make sure you add the balls one by one and also add them separately in the pan without crowding.
Once you have added all the balls, gently shake the pan to make sure that all the balls are evened out and has enough space for cooking.
Keep the flame on low and cover the pan with a lid. This will help in cooking the lentil balls. Also shake the pan every 2 to 3 minutes to make sure that the balls don't stick to the bottom of pan. DO NOT USE A LADLE TO STIR THE KUZHAMBU. The lentil balls are delicate and will break apart if we stir using a ladle.
Cook the kuzhambu for about 10 to 12 minutes, shaking the pan every 2-3 minutes.
Serve hot with rice!