Poritha Kuzhambu is a delicious dish defined by the addition of coconut and cumin seeds. Many of our recipes for this dish have been made without tamarind, but today’s recipe includes that wonderful, sour tang.
What makes Poritha Kuzhambu different from Sambar and Pitlay is its ground masala with coconut, cumin and urad dal (black gram dal). Some households use black pepper instead of cumin. Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind can be made with a medley of vegetables or a single one, often with the addition of a legume. Meenakshi Ammal always suggests using only one vegetable for Poritha Kuzhambu and a mixture of vegetables for Kootu. Although in this one, when listing the vegetables, she seems to relax that rule just for a moment for this recipe, suggesting that vegetables can be used in combination, but later instructions imply again that for Kuzhambu, one vegetable is best.
Another feature of Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind is that it often includes lentils and/or beans together with the traditional toor dal (red gram dal). We have made this with toor dal and chickpeas. Delicious!
This recipe is indeed one of Meenakshi Ammal’s from the first volume of Cook and See. This recipe is a tangle! Like the first ones in the book, for Sambar, this recipe definitely takes some detective work to untangle. Thoughts have been put down without logic and structure, so I have done my best to add sequence and process to the instructions. I do hope that you enjoy.
Why not browse through the recipes of Meenakshi Ammal? They are here. She certainly is my guru of Tamil cuisine.
Then browse all of the Poritha Kuzhambu recipes. All of our Sambar and Kuzhambu dishes can be browsed here. Have a look at all of our Indian recipes. Or you may like to explore our Early Autumn recipes.
I would also suggest trying the Kootu recipes – these are very similar but have a thicker consistency.
Poritha Kuzhambu with Tamarind
eggplant (brinjal), sabre beans, cluster beans, amaranth stems, Chennai yam, Karunai Yam can all be used separately or together. The yams should always be cooked separately and added to the other vegetables.
ingredients (serves 4)
0.25 cup chickpeas (whole bengal gram)
0.5 cup toor dal (red gram dal)
1.25 tspn salt
0.5 5spn turmeric
tamarind – a piece the size of a small marble
0.75 tspn sambar powder
1 tspn urad dal (black gram dal)
1 tspn ghee
1 Tblspn grated coconut – frozen grated coconut is fine to use, available from Indian Groceries.
0.5 tspn rice flour
0.5 tspn brown mustard seed
0.5 tspn black gram dal (urad dal)
2 tspn ghee
Soak the chickpeas overnight. In the morning, rinse and cook until tender.
Cook the toor dal until very tender and mushy. Mash the lentils to get a mushy consistency – I will sometimes give them a 1-second quick blitz with a hand held immersion blender to get the desired consistency.
While the lentils and beans are cooking, the rest of the recipe can be prepared.
Soak the tamarind in warm water.
Saute the 1 tspn black gram dal in 1 tspn ghee until golden. Grind to a paste with coconut. Keep aside.
If using cluster beans, cut them into small pieces and wash them well.
Simmer the prepared vegetables with just enough water to cover the vegetables, with added salt and turmeric. Just as they finish cooking, add the sambar powder.
Drain the tamarind water, pushing through the sieve as much of the tamarind pulp as possible. Add this tamarind water to the vegetables.
Add the cooked dal and chickpeas and bring the vegetable mix back to the boil. Simmer until the raw tamarind taste disappears.
Now add the coconut paste and mix well. Simmer for a few minutes.
Mix the rice flour with a little water until smooth and use this to thicken the kuzhambu. Stir the vegetables while slowly pouring in the rice flour water, and continue to stir until they thicken slightly.
Add the asafoetida and stir well.
Prepare the tadka by heating the ghee in a small pan. Add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop. Add the urad dal, and as it turns golden brown, pour the whole mixture onto the kuzhambu.
Turn off the heat, cover, and allow to sit for 2 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
recipe notes and alternatives
Broken, dried beans can be used instead of chickpeas.
Alternatively, leave out the chickpeas and soak 2 tspns of channa dal. Cook this with the vegetables.
In place of sambar powder, fry some black gram dal with 4 or 5 dried red chillies and grind to a paste. Use this in place of the sambar powder.
If cluster beans are not very soft, a pinch of baking soda may be added at the time of cooking, to soften them.Sabre beans can be cooked separately with salt and turmeric if they are not very tender, and added with the tamarind.