Sodhi or Tirunelveli Sodhi Kuzhambu is a traditional dish from Tirunelveli and regions around that place. It is a popular and a must-serve dish during weddings and usually prepared the day after the wedding or when the groom visits the bride’s home for the first time (called the ‘maapillai saapadu’).
This rich coconut-based curry or sodhi kuzhambu with plenty of vegetables is served with rice, ginger chutney, potato poriyal, and potato or yam chips.
This new year (2017) we decided to meet at my sisters-in-law Uma and Leela’s house. Uma decided the menu for the grand lunch, it would be Sodhi with the other sides. All of us; i.e. my three sisters-in-law and their spouses, and me lent a helping hand and we ended up with a delectable lunch spread on the table with Sodhi kuzhambu being the star dish.
The high point of this sodhi is the coconut milk. It is not like other stews where coconut milk is added to the curry. Here the vegetables are cooked in coconut milk and care is taken to cook the vegetables in thin coconut milk (usually the 3rd extract) and then the 2nd milk is added and finally the thick 1st milk.
If you think grating and extracting the coconut milk at home is tedious, you can skip the use of home extracted coconut milk and use ready-to-use coconut milk that you get in tetra packs instead. These coconut milk is a good substitute, only you must dilute the milk with water to get the thin milk.
The commonly used vegetables are sambar onion, carrot, beans, potato, drumstick. The cooked and mashed moong dal helps to thicken the sodhi and just small quantity of dal is sufficient.
The ginger paste, green chilli paste, and lemon juice are other key ingredients that enhances the taste of the sodhi and these cannot be substituted with any other.
For the crunchy element in the plate most south Indians serve appalams, papadams, vathals, but with sodhi the accompaniment is always potato chips or yam chips.