There are three main methods for making Poritha (Poricha) Kuzhambu. The first uses sambar powder, and this recipe, the second method, uses a paste of chillies, cumin seed and coconut. The third method uses chillies and urad dal ground to a paste.
Poritha Kuzhambu (or Poricha Kuzhambu) is a style of kuzhambu that usually includes coconut in its ground spice mix – this is the most defining characteristic of a Poritha Kuzhambu. This recipe is lentil based which can be made with either Toor Dal as we do here, or Green Gram Dal (Mung Dal). Although some Poritha Kuzhambu recipes can contain tamarind, this one does not.
This dish is not spicy, with very little spice added – just chillies and cumin. It celebrates the taste and textures of the dal and the vegetable.
Sometimes Poritha Kuzhambu is called a Lentil Vegetable Stew. That is not entirely accurate. There is no real equivalent in our cuisine – perhaps it can be described as a Lentil Based Gravy with a Vegetable, to eat over rice. It flavours the rice and the rice compliments the kuzhambu. I love kuzhambu so much, I will also eat a small bowl of it like a soup.
I have used drumsticks in this kuzhambu. See below for the variety of vegetables that can be used.
Simple Poritha Kuzhambu with Chillies and Cumin
source: Cook and See 1 by S. Meenakshi Ammal
Cuisine: South Indian
Prep Time: 3o mins or more to cook dal
Cook Time: around 20-30 mins
The best vegetables to use are Snake Gourd, Chow Chow, Drumstick, Country Runner Beans.
You can also use Ridge Gourd, Eggplants, Cluster Beans and Amaranth Stems.
It is best to choose only 1 vegetable rather than mix them.
0.75 cups of either red gram dal (toor dal) or green gram dal (mung dal), or a mixture of both
0.75 tspn salt
0.25 tspn cumin seed
3 dried red chillies
2 – 3 tspns of grated coconut (frozen grated coconut is Ok)
0.5 tspn rice flour
2 tspn ghee
0.5 tspn mustard seeds
0.5 tspn black gram dal (urad dal)
few curry leaves
Cook the dal until quite mushy/pastey. This will take around 30 mins unless the dal is old and drier – then it will take longer. When it is cooked, you can partially blend it with an immersion blender if necessary.
Prepare the vegetables and cut into suitable sized pieces. Cook in 0.5 cup of water, adding more if necessary, with the salt. Cook the vegetables well.
Meanwhile, grind the cumin seeds, chillies and coconut to a fine powder. You can add a little water to make a paste if desired.
Add the cooked dal and the spice powder or paste. Add more water if the mixture needs to be thinned. Then let the mixture boil well.
Dissolve the rice flour in a little water and add to the dal. Stir for a couple of minutes as the rice flour cooks out and the gravy thickens slightly.
Turn off the heat. Garnish with the curry leaves.
Make the tadka by heating the ghee in a small pan, adding the mustard seeds and allow to pop without burning them. Add the urad dal and fry for a moment or two, then pour the ghee and all over the curry leaves and dal.
Cover with a lid and leave for 2 mins to allow the flavours to infuse. Serve and enjoy.