It is early Spring and I’ve pruned the curry leaf tree back, so to use some of the trimmed leaves we are making Curry Leaf Kuzhambu with Tamarind. It is another gorgeous kuzhambu, designed to be eaten like a gravy served over rice or other grains.
This is a delightful dish made with beetroot cooked with freshly ground spices to form a gravy that is delicious with rice or poppadom. It is really easy to make, especially if you have pre prepared the spice mix.
Vathal Kuzhambu is a dish that is prepared with Vathal (dried vegetables) like Mangai Vathal (Raw Mango), Sundakai Vathal (Turkey Berry), Manathakkali Vathal (Black Night Shade), or with fresh vegetables such as Eggplant, Beetroot or Okra. It is often made with sambar powder, but it is best to avoid using purchased sambar powder for this recipe – prepare the spices fresh for this recipe by roasting and grinding spices to make vathakuzhambu podi.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
This Poritha Kuzhambu is made using the third of 3 methods outlined by Meenakshi Ammal in her 4 volumes of Cook and See. It sautees the spices before grinding them to a paste and adding to the dish. This deepens the flavours and adds a toasted overtone.
Poritha Kuzhambus are very delicious. These recipes are without tamarind and with coconut added for a beautiful sense of the tropical South of India. Beautiful indeed.
You might like to find out more about Kuzhambu. We suggest that you read The Difference Between Sambar, Kuzhambu and Kootu. Also have a look at the other methods of making Poritha Kuzhambu. The differences are minor, but they do change the flavours significantly. The first uses Sambar Powder, and the second replaces that with a few individual spices.
Are you looking for the recipes of Meenakshi Ammal? They are here. She certainly is my guru of Tamil Brahmin cuisine.
Uppadam is an older recipe, one which people recall their Grandmothers or perhaps Mothers making, but which seems to have lost favour in the current generations. It is generally made with okra, and, as Uppadam means something that is preserved, with vatral, sun-dried vegetables, as well. Manathakkali vatral is traditionally used, and I searched high and low for it. It is difficult to obtain here, it seems, so Sundakkai is the recommended alternative. Sundakkai is sun-dried Turkey Berry/Pea Eggplants.
There are a few ways of making Kuzhambu style dishes with okra, but I particularly like this way. It has that sense of connecting one with past generations of women cooking in the kitchens of South India, or directing the making of similar dishes with a specialist’s hand. The okra is cooked with spices and the vatral, before tamarind and a paste of toasted rice, fenugreek, and chillies is added. This thickens the dish, so it is half way between a Rasam and a Sambar. Meenakshi Ammal has a similar recipe, and I will share that one too, in due course.
Roasting the rice will interest you. It releases more moisture that you thought possible, and the grain itself therefore changes somewhat. Roast until it is aromatic.
Turkey Berry is also called Small Thai Eggplant, Wild Eggplant, Pea Eggplant and Sundakkai (in Tamil). It is a slightly bitter, tiny pea-sized vegetable very common in Thailand and in parts of India. You can add Turkey Berries to your list of slightly bitter foods that have so many health-giving properties – fenugreek, bitter gourd, pomelo, radicchio, Belgian endive, Escarole and other chicory greens. But don’t be afraid, they have only a slight bitter backnote and it is delightful.
The Turkey Berries first need to be picked from their stems. This is the sort of job that is similar to shelling peas or peeling broad beans – best done while watching your favourite show on TV or sitting outside in the sunshine. Then rinse them well in cold water.
This dish, Puli Kuzhambu, is a quick Kuzhambu, a gravy-style dish that is generally eaten with rice. It has such a wonderful flavour! Deep and rich. In this recipe the Turkey Berries are stir fried with spices before being added to a tamarind gravy. You will love it.
Mor (or Moar or More) Kuzhambu is a yoghurt based dish of South India, forming a wonderful spiced yoghurt gravy that is delicious served over rice. In this recipe, ladyfingers (okra) are sauteed until crisp and then added to the yoghurt sauce. It is a flavoursome use of okra, and the crispiness contrasts beautifully with the silkiness of the yoghurt sauce.
The yoghurt is flavoured with a coconut flavoured spice paste which also contains rice flour. The rice flour helps to stabilise the yoghurt so it doesn’t split, and will slightly thicken the yoghurt sauce.
Find out what Kuzhambu is here.
Are you after similar dishes? Try Mor Kuzhambu with Lentil Dumplings, Moar Kuzhambu with Vatral or Vegetables, and another version of Mor Kuzhambu with Lentil Dumplings.
Similar Okra dishes include Sri Lankan Okra Curry.
Or browse all of our Kuzhambu recipes, and all of our Indian dishes. All of our Okra dishes are here, and our Yoghurt recipes are here. Or spend some time browsing our Mid Winter collection of dishes.
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.
Today’s recipe, Sodhi, is primarily a Sri Lankan and Malaysian-Indian dish, but it is also very famous in Tirunalvelli District of Tamil Nadu in India. This is a simple recipe for the dish which is a thin coconut gravy great for eating with rice or idiappam. Vegetables can be added – drumstick, beans, carrot, potato and the like, for a more filling dish.
The dish is slightly sweet, from the coconut milk, balanced with the tartness of the lemon or lime juice. It is so good it can be eaten as a soup. You might be slurping it long before the rice is cooked.
Kuzhambu, a cousin to the Sambar, is easy to make as (unlike Sambar) it usually does not use the time-consuming toor dal. Toor dal can take a long time to cook unless you use a pressure cooker (I do not). Without a lentil to add bulk, Kuzhambu is often like a gravy, and excellent to eat with rice.
This is an easy eggplant Kuzhambu from the Monks who wrote the Monk’s cookbook – a collection of easily prepared South Indian and Sri Lankan vegetarian dishes, perfect for the home kitchen and not dependent on dozens of ingredients. Every recipe is delicious.
You might like to read about the difference between Sambar and Kuzhambu.
Try our Sri Lankan Long Bean Curry too.
Kootu (Koottu) is a type of Kuzhambu, and contains a combination of vegetable combined with Mung Dal and freshly ground mild spices. Varieties of Kootu include Poritha Kootu and Kothsu (Gothsu).
Sometimes Kootu is called a Lentil Vegetable Stew. It certainly is thicker than Poritha Kuzhambu, with more vegetables. It is generally eaten with rice, without any need for an accompanying vegetable dish. You could say that Poritha Kuzhambu and Poritha Kootu are very similar, except that Poritha Kootu is made with Mung Dal rather than Toor Dal, has more vegetables and is much thicker than Kuzhambu.
This Kootu is slightly unusual. It uses a little Sambar Powder which is rarely used in Kootu. And although some Kootu recipes contain tamarind, this one does not.
Cumin is considered the defining spice for Kootu. Sometimes pepper is used. Many kootus are spiced with a coconut, cumin and green chillies paste but this recipe, from Meenakshi Ammal, varies that by using red chillies.
The dish is not spicy – very little spice is used. It celebrates the taste and textures of the dal and the vegetables. You will enjoy it. You can purchase your Sambar Powder at an Indian grocery, or better still, make your own.
As usual, Meenakshi Ammal’s recipe takes some unpicking as it does contradict itself. It always takes a bit of a detective work to unravel the recipes in Vol 1 of her 4 volume set of Cook and See.
Are you after similar recipes? Try Spinach with a Peppery Coconut Gravy (Keerai Molag00tal), Poritha Kootu, Poritha Kootu with Simple Spices, Drumsrick Leaves Sambar, Poritha Kootu without Tamarind, Brinjal Chidambaram Kothsu, and Pitlai.