Heat a pan or kadai and when the pan is hot, add the peppercorns, toor dal, cumin seeds, and roast for two minutes or until the aroma comes.
Then add curry leaves, one or two cloves of garlic(optional), and tamarind. (If using tamarind paste, do not add it now). Roast for 30 to 45 seconds and turn off the heat. The curry leaves will crisp up in the residual heat.
Allow it to cool and grind it into a smooth paste by adding ⅓ to ½ cup of water. (If using tamarind paste, add it while grinding)
Prepare the milagu kuzhambu.
Heat a heavy-bottom kadai and add the gingelly oil. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. The mustard seeds will splutter, and the gingelly oil will froth up. Add the garlic cloves and turmeric powder and cook for two to three minutes over medium-low heat.
Then add the ground paste, salt, and ½ more cup of water.
Mix well and cook until it thickens or for about 5 minutes.
The oil will ooze out from the sides, and kuzhambu will be more like a pudding. In Tamil, we say halwa padam. Turn off the heat and serve warm with rice. Let the kuzhambu cool before storing it in an air-tight container.
If you want thin consistency kuzhambu, add one more cup of water and bring it to a boil.
Adjust the salt as per your preference.
If you are not preparing this for lactating moms, increase the peppercorns or add 1 or 2 red chilies, or increase the garlic amount while grinding as per your spice preference.
As mentioned, we need a minimum of 30 to 40 ( 3 strands) of curry leaves for this recipe. You can add up to 5 strands.
Gingelly oil is preferable, but you can use regular cooking oil if you can't source it.