Milagu Kuzhambu (Black Pepper and Tamarind Gravy)
This is a thick jam-like gravy with a tamarind base, spiced with a mix of roasted powdered pepper and lentils. Perfect over a bed of hot steaming rice, with an accompaniment of vegetables (kootu) or curry.
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
4 servings 15minutes
Cook Time
  • 1lemon-sized tamarind
  • 1tbsp Salt
  • 1tsp Turmeric powder
To Roast And Powder
  • 2tbsp toor dal
  • 2tbsp black pepperincrease or decrease per your heat tolerance
  • 2red chilies
  • 1sprig Curry leavesoptional, but adds flavor
  • 1tsp Coriander seedsI don’t always use, and can be optional
  • 1tsp Oil/gheeto roast the spices
To Temper
  • 2tbsp sesame oilmore would be perfect
  • 1/2tsp Hing
  • 1tsp Mustard seeds
  1. Soak the tamarind in about a cup of warm water, and extract the juice
  2. Heat the tsp of oil/ghee to roast the spices
  3. In this order, add the spices: toor dal, coriander seeds, black pepper, and finally red chilies, and toast.
  4. Add curry leaves at the end, and toast to remove all moisture
  5. Cool the spice mix, and powder coarsely
  6. Heat the 2 tbsp of oil, pop the mustard seeds, and add hing. Add the tamarind extract and cook until the raw smell goes away, about 5-8 minutes
  7. Add the powdered spices, lower the heat, and make sure to break up the lumps formed
  8. I drizzle a bit more sesame oil as the gravy thickens and cook till the oil glazes it
  9. Eat with hot steaming rice, with a side of kootu vegetable gravy) and papad.
Recipe Notes

My mom used to make this gravy on rainy days, and fry vathal/vadam/papads. Spicy in a good way, with the goodness of black pepper. It is supposed to rev up a waning appetite, and cleanse the system. Considered a pathiya food item (special restricted diet). Made for lactating and post-partum moms to help with healing, not sure how it works.

But, this is an amazing gravy and is wonderful on a bed of hot steaming rice. I always make a side of kootu (vegetables blended with a mild spice mix, and cooked with dal) to make a complete meal.

Best Combinations:

  • Milagu kuzhambu, rice, avarakai/chow chow kootu
  • Milagu kuzhambu, rice, vadam, vathal/appalam