Monday, June 18, 2007

Vendakai - Poondu Vathal Kuzhambu

My mom makes a mean Vathal Kuzhambu - also called Puli Kuzhambu at our home. The one I prepare does taste a tad bit different from hers inspite of me following the same procedure. I do go easy on the oil however though normally this is made with quite a generous amount of nallennai (Sesame / Gingelly oil). This recipe uses powders that we have on hand.

Update: One can also use manathakkali or sundakkai vathal to make this kuzhambu. For this, first heat some oil in the pan and fry the vathal on medium flame till roasted (it shouldn't get burnt though), strain with a slotted spoon and set aside. After the kuzhambu is done and has thickened, add this fried vathal towards the end and switch off the stove. Here are some pictures of this vathal kuzhambu prepared this way (the rest of the procedure is the same as below but I usually don't add other veggies like vendakkai).

This can be made without any vegetables except shallots but I added in some Okra (Vendakkai) and Garlic (Vellapoondu) as well.

This is my entry for Nupur's A-Z of Indian Vegetables for the letter 'V' this week.


Okra - 7 to 8 tender ones (can be more if garlic is not used)
Garlic - 1 bulb or 10-12 cloves, peeled
Shallots - 10 to 12 or Red Onion - 1 small (sliced thick)
Tamarind - Lemon sized, soaked in warm water
Chilli powder - 1 tsp
Coriander powder - 3 tsp
Sambar powder - 1 to 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt, to taste
Gingelly Oil - 1 tbsp

For Seasoning:
Curry leaves - few
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad dhal - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek (Vendhayam) - 4 to 5 seeds
Asafoetida (Perungayam) - a pinch

For the Finishing touches (Optional):
Fenugreek powder - a pinch
Asafoetida (Perungayam) - half a pinch
Black pepper powder - 1/4 tsp
Gingelly oil - 1/2 to 1 tsp

1. Cut Okra into 1 inch pieces or bigger and microwave them for about 5-6 mins.

2. Extract tamarind juice from the soaked pulp after adding about 2 cups of water.

3. Heat a deep pan, add oil, the seasoning ingredients, onions, garlic and okra.

4. Saute this until the garlic and onion get browned slightly.

5. Add the turmeric, chilli, coriander & sambar powders and saute them for 2 to 3 minutes more.

6. Immediately add the tamarind juice and salt.

7. Once this comes to a boil, cover and let simmer and low-med flame for about 20 to 25 minutes

8. When sufficiently thickened and vegetables are completed cooked, add a tsp of oil on top of the gravy and add the powders under the finishing touch. After a minute, mix thoroughly and remove from the stove.

This is now ready to be served. The result is a tangy, spicy curry with a subtle sweetness lended by the caramelized onions. This tastes even better the following day and is a good accompaniment to soft dosas as well.

Our lunch for Father's Day - Rice with Vathal kuzhambu, mung dhal thovaiyal , pan-roasted cauliflower , sorakkai-channa dhal poriyal and pepper papad.


  1. Man, I love thick vathal kuzhambu like this! Wish I could have been there for the feast! :)

  2. Love love vatral kuzhambu... I can have this three times a day :)

  3. Thank you Shyam. The simmering did the trick - that's what I like about it. It doesn't need a whole lot of looking over and stirring.

    Thanks Suganya - me too. I'm still savoring the leftovers!

  4. Somply gorgeous L! I bet left overs tastes better than fresh Kuzhambu.

  5. hi ur site is good...all ur recipes r so delicious n mouthwatering.....

  6. Yes Asha - the leftover does taste better.

    Thanks Shanthi...:) try the recipes and let me know if you like them.

  7. oh man, this stuff is addictive! And I've only eaten the plain version....this one with okra must be even tastier!

  8. Laavanya, I tried out your vattal was delicious!:-)

  9. TBC, am so happy to hear that! I love the fact that it doesn't require any grinding. Thanks for trying and letting me know.

  10. Tried out this recipe. Came out amazingly yummy!

  11. Hey Laavan, I tried this today, and it came out absolutely yummy!! Thank you so much for this awesome recipe :)


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