I'd used up three chayotes in the sambhar, but I still had two left over. The latin american store (Sedano's) had a sale on them for five for a dollar, so that's why I had so many! That same store had tomatoes on sale for $0.69 a pound, so I had one of those lying around from when I bought them two or three weeks back. In other words, said tomato was still edible, but too soft to eat in a sandwich. It wouldn't hold up to the strain. The string beans that Steve had picked up on Sunday were starting to look a little dodgy. While I was there, I figured that a potato would round things out nicely. Earlier that week, Steve had eaten a tomato and onion open faced sandwich with some avocado slices in it. I still had half that onion left over.
This next step is mostly optional. I added in a very large handful of curry leaves. (This step is optional. If you don't have curry leaves, leave them out.) They exploded like crazy as well. I sprinkled in a dash or three of asafoetida powder. (Again, optional. If you can't find asafoetida, don't bother hunting far and wide.) I then added the chopped onion and garlic, and let the three get stirred around until the spices and oil combined completely. The third image from the left shows how it should look when it's been stirred around enough.
Once the onions and garlic had a chance to cook like that for a minute or two (it gives them time to settle in to the oil, and flavour everyting properly), I was ready for the addition of the turmeric powder and salt. Tumeric powder gives the dish a delectable yellowy orange colour. Salt, on the other hand, allows the onions to leak out their water more quickly. When the onions dehydrate more quickly, the sugars in the onion will caramelise (cook down and turn brown) more quickly, and you can get on with things. I stirred the turmeric, salt, and onions around in the wok until they were very well combined.
When the onions are in your pot, along with the turmeric and the salt and the curry leaves, this is what they should look like, once you stir everything around. I'm going to stop at this point for a reason. From here on out, you can add pretty much any vegetable that your heart desires. This is the base of any typical South Indian curry. The reason that I use sesame seeds is because in Chennai or any other typical South Indian city, we buy this sesame oil called Til oil. It's got a very distinct flavour, and the smell is amazing. Til oil is fairly expensive outside of India, and I don't want to send you all out there looking for this stuff, and getting frustrated that you can't make Indian food. The reason that the asafoetida and curry leaves are optional is because both of those components only add polish to the final dish. You can make a delicious, mouth-watering dish at any time without those ingredients. With the curry leaves and asafoetida, however, you'll get that authentic South Indian flavour that you'll get when you're at a restaurant or home in Madurai or Chennai or any other such city.