Kuzhambu (Paruppu Kuzhambu)

Srilatha Main Dish, South Indian Leave a Comment

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Kuzhambu (Paruppu Kuzhambu)
Kuzhambu means a thick mix/slurry. True to its name, this kuzhambu is a spicy thick gravy with a tamarind base, with a few vegetables, and dal. The difference between vathal kuzhambu, kara kuzhambu and this is that this has cooked dal added to it. Then why is it not sambar? Good question. We use a pre-made spice powder to season this dish, whereas for sambar, we freshly roast and grind spices to make the masala. Also, this is a bit thicker than sambar. So, as far as tamarind based gravies go, there are mainly 3 kinds in Tamil (brahmin) cooking: Vatha kuzhambu/kara kuzhambu: no dal, limited vegetables, more oil and almost like a pickle Sambar: Tamarind, dal, vegetables, freshly roasted and ground masala Kuzhambu: Thick tamarind gravy, premade masala/spice powder, dal, limited vegetables.
Course Main Dish
Cuisine South Indian
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables carrots, green pepper, broccoli stem, chayote squash
  • 1/2 cup cooked, mashed toor dal
  • 1 small lemon sized Tamarind pulp
  • 2 tsp sambar powder I prefer Grand sweets vatha kuzhambu podi
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil sesame oil is the best, any mild tasting oil works
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Hing
  • 1/2 tsp methi/vendhayam/fenugreek seeds
  • 1 red chili
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves
Course Main Dish
Cuisine South Indian
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables carrots, green pepper, broccoli stem, chayote squash
  • 1/2 cup cooked, mashed toor dal
  • 1 small lemon sized Tamarind pulp
  • 2 tsp sambar powder I prefer Grand sweets vatha kuzhambu podi
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil sesame oil is the best, any mild tasting oil works
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Hing
  • 1/2 tsp methi/vendhayam/fenugreek seeds
  • 1 red chili
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves
Instructions
  1. Soak tamarind in a couple of cups of warm water, and extract the pulp
  2. Cook and mash toor dal
  3. Chop vegetables - I really love carrot and green pepper combo for this kuzhambu. Broccoli stem (thandu) is also amazing, so is chayote squash.
  4. Gather tempering ingredients
  5. Heat oil, and add mustard seeds when hot. As they splutter, add the methi seeds, hing, red chili and fry without burning any of them. Lower the heat
  6. Add the vegetables, and the kuzhambu powder and saute on low heat for about 3 minutes
  7. Add salt, tamarind extract and boil until the tamarind loses its raw smell
  8. Add the cooked mashed dal and boil for just a couple of minutes
  9. Spicy, tangy, kuzhambu is ready! Best with hot steaming rice, and a mild curry such as cabbage with coconut
Recipe Notes

Video 1

Video 2

Tips:

Try to use sesame oil for the tempering, the flavor is out of this world.

Any bland juicy vegetables would work for kuzhambu type gravies. My favorites are carrot, green pepper, yellow pumpkin, broccoli stem, chow chow (chayote squash)!

This kuzhambu reminds me of my patti (my mom's mother). My earliest memory of this kuzhambu is eating it at her house, what we called perambur patti house (Perambur in Chennai where they lived, as opposed to Purasawalkam patti, where my dad's parents lived). This kuzhambu, followed by thick fresh curd, slightly reddish  from the clay pot in which it was set is a nostalgic meal I try to recreate, minus the clay pot yogurt, when I'm struck by pangs of nostalgia and craving comfort food.

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