Category Archives: Kuzhambugal – Gravy Dishes

Kathirikkai Salna/Brinjal Salna

Let’s continue the Mutton Biriyani recipe of the previous post, with a balance of Salna – veggie gravy/stew and complete it in the next post with Aadu Vadhakkal – spicy mutton stir fry.


First SALNA..

‘Salna’ – a unique delicacy that is served along with Biriyani, is a simple gravy to tackle any spicy variety rice.  The tanginess of the Salna strikes a balance with the aromatic Biriyani. This is a  tamarind curry, thickened with peanut-fennel powder. Peanut stands as a natural variant to the usual coconut based gravies of the south. Tried for the first time and voila.. turned out to be good. No separate pans, time consuming closed cooking here. Yes, the best part is, this dish is quite simple, as everything goes into the cooker and is cooked in no time.
I concentrated so much on the making of Biriyani, that didn’t click better pictures of salna or mutton fry. Shall update with better the earliest.

Kathirikkai Salna/Brinjal Salna




  • brinjal – 6 no.s. – slit in the middle
  • ginger- garlic paste – 2 tsp each
  • onion – 2 no.s – coarsely ground in blender
  • tomato – 2 no.s finely chopped
  • tamarind – extract of a gooseberry sized piece
  • jaggery syrup – 1 tsp
  • water – 1 cup
  • oil – 3 tsp


  • sambar powder – 1 ½ tsp
  • coriander powder – 1 tsp
  • turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  • salt – to taste

dry roast and powder

  • peanuts – 2 tsp
  • fennel seeds – 1 tsp

Method of Preparation

  1. Wash and slit brinjal on top.
  2. In a cooker, fry brinjal in oil. Remove and keep aside.
  3. In the same oil, fry ginger garlic paste.
  4. Add coarsely ground onion and fry till golden in color.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry well.
  6. Add tamarind pulp and powders and mix well.
  7. Add 1 cup of water.
  8. Then add peanut – fennel seed powder and stir well.
  9. Add the jaggery syrup.
  10. Close cooker and cook in full flame for 2 whistles.
  11. Open the cooker once pressure is released by itself.
  12. Kathirikkai (Brinjal) Salna is ready to be served.



Puli Kuzhambu – The Exceptional Tamarind Curry


puli kuzhambu/tamarind curry



Puli Kuzhambu is a tamarind curry where a vegetable like drum stick, ladies finger or brinjal is cooked in a tamarind gravy with specially ground spices. This is a semi-thick curry to be mixed with piping hot rice! For a balance of vegetables and lentils, puli Kuzhambu is preferably served with kootu- stew of veggies cooked with lentil. The lentil stew also aids in easy digestion of the tangy spicy Kuzhambu! Plain cooked and seasoned lentil (thaalicha paruppu) is also served alongside.


Puli Kuzhambu – Tamarind Curry

The most exclusive among the tamarind based curries is PULI KUZHAMBU- which translates as Tamarind Curry! It is a thick gravy with tamarind pulp. It has a tangy flavour combined with the special spices. The ‘Podi or the powder is as usual supplied my Amma! I have not grown up still to make my own ‘Puli Kuzhambu Podi’ – the special curry powder.
Amma’s Podi/Home made Puli Kuzhambu Podi


  • kothumalli vithai/coriander seeds – 1/2 kg
  • milagai vatral/red chillies – 1/2 kg
  • kadalai paruppu/bengal gram – 100 gms
  • thuvaram paruppu/split pigeon peas – 100 gms
  • uluntham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 100 gms
  • seeragam/cumin seeds – 4 tsp
  • venthayam/fenugreek seeds – 2 tsp
  • raw rice – 1oo gms
  • black pepper – 100 gms

Method of Preparation

  1. In a hard bottomed vessel, dry roast all the ingredients with 1/2 tsp oil, except rice
  2. Separately roast rice – after a while the rice would puff up – 100 gms of rice would become nearly 200 gms, after roasted
  3. Spread in a plate and cool it for a short while
  4. The difference between sambaar and this curry powder is that the red chillies are roasted till darker brown in colour to get the dark colour of the kuzhambu
  5. Dry grind into a smooth powder
  6. Kuzhambu Powder is ready.

Now, when I needed to post my favourite curry and my daughter’s favourite side dish for her thayir saadham (curd rice), my rescue came from Chennai – my Amma! She gave me an easier solution rather than making one’s own curry powder in a blender – mixing sambaar powder with more pepper powder would be a timely, handy substitute. But making the spice powder at home is highly recommended to obtain the heavenly flavour of the south!

Though I have made the kuzhambu with amma’s podi, I suggest those enthusiasts who cannot receive amma’s powder to use a blend of sambaar powder with pepper powder.

Fresh vegetables like drum stick, egg plant, okra are used separately in making of the Kuzhambu. Shallots and Garlic are inseparable ingredients used with any vegetable.
This curry tastes best with gingelly oil – or to be precise the only means of getting the original flavour is by using Gingelly Oil.
Gingelly Oil is the south Indian sesame seeds oil – other sesame oils are different – Gingelly oil can be bought from any Indian departmental stores selling south indian stuff, if you live abroad.


 nallennai/gingelly oil



Today, India is the largest producer of tamarind. The consumption of tamarind is widespread due to its central role in the cuisines of the Indian subcontinent, South East Asia and South America, particularly in Mexico.


Usage of Tamarind

The usage of tamarind in South Indian Cuisine can be next to quintessential!



  1. Puliyodharai- tamarind rice
  2. Thuvayal – Chutney with tamarind
  3. Sambaar- lentil curry
  4. Rasam- the digestive soup
  5. Kozhi Kuzhambu- chicken curry with ground ingredients and tamarind pulp
  6. Meen Kuzhambu- fish curry where fish pieces are cooked in tamarind gravy with powdered spices……..

The list is no doubt a longer one. The list of different kinds of chutneys with tamarind alone can be quite  extensive.

Hailing from Thirunelveli and Thoothukudi – the list has more curries – simple and exotic. A few that I know from a vegetarian household are-


  1. Keerai Chaaru – spinach cooked in tamarind curry – almost like Sambaar;
  2. Puli milagai – spicy green chillies cooked in a simple tamarind gravy, which is a mouth watering dish with idli or dosai;
  3. Puli thanni- a very mild and light gravy or in fact it is a ‘curry in soup consistency’ to have with cooked rice and roasted gram chutney;
  4. Kara Kuzhambu – which translates as spicy gravy with veggies cooked in diluted tamarind pulp;
  5. Milagu Kuzhambu – pepper curry made with diluted tamarind pulp;
  6. Vendhaya Kuzhambu – fenugreek curry made with diluted tamarind pulp;
  7. Vattral Kuzhambu – curry made with dried vegetables –  dried and preserved vegetables like sundaikkai (turkey berry), manathakkali (black night shade), pavakkai (bitter guard) are fried and used in this kuzhambu. These all have anti oxidental and anti inflammatory properties.

The above mentioned Milagu Kuzhambu – pepper curry, Vendhaya Kuzhambu – fenugreek curry or Vatral Kuzhambu – dried veg. tamarind curry may be cousins to Puli Kuzhambu! These three curries are almost made the same way with slightest differences in ingredients.

There are also candies made with tamarind and local healing spices that aid in digestion.




Puli Illa Kuzhambu

The usage of tamarind is almost on a daily basis for the afternoon meal, so much so – to skip the most sort after ingredient in the kitchen shelf for a day, a curry without tamarind – ‘Puli Illa Kuzhambu’ (literally translates as curry without tamarind) is made in regular intervals.


Health Benefits of Tamarind


Tamarind juice is a mild laxative.
Tamarind is used to treat bile disorders
Tamarind lowers cholesterol
Tamarind promotes a healthy heart
The pulp, leaves and flowers, in various combinations, are applied on painful and swollen joints.
Tamarind is use as a gargle for sore throats, and as a drink to bring relief from sunstroke.
The heated juice is used to cure conjunctivitis. Eye drops made from tamarind seeds may be a treatment for dry eye syndrome.
Tamarind seed polysaccharide is adhesive, enabling it to stick to the surface of the eye longer than other eye preparations.
Tamarind is used as a diuretic remedy for bilious disorders, jaundice and catarrh.
Tamarind is a good source of antioxidants that fight against cancer.
Tamarind reduces fevers and provides protection against colds. Make an infusion by taking one ounce of pulp, pour one quart of boiling water over this and allow to steep for one hour. Strain and drink tepid with little honey to sweeten. This will bring down temperature by several degrees.
Tamarind helps the body digest food
Tamarind applied to the skin to heal inflammation
The red outer covering of the seed is an effective remedy against diarrhea and dysentery.
Juice extracted from the flowers is given internally for bleeding piles.


Puli Kuzhambu

Here, Puli Kuzhambu is prepared with ladies finger or okra.




Tamarind is still a source of carbohydrates, and it must be limited and factored into a well-balanced diet. It is best eaten plain in small amounts or used as a condiment to spruce up the flavor of food and beverages.

This food is an excellent source of vitamin B, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, thiamine, phosphorus, riboflavin, and fiber.




Ingredients (serves 4)

  • puli/soaked tamarind – lemon size or thick tamarind extract- 1 cup
  • vendaikkai/ladies finger or okra – cut to medium sized pieces – 1 to 1 1/2 cup
  • chinna vengayam/shallots – 6 no.s whole or thinly sliced as preferred
  • poondu/garlic – 10 cloves – i have thinly sliced
  • sambar powder – 2 heaped tsp
  • dry roasted pepper powder – ½ tsp
  • uppu/salt – as per taste



with dried black tamarind



  • nallennai/gingelly oil – 3 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • vendhayam/fenugreek seeds – ½ tsp
  • kariveppilai/curry leaves – a few

Method of Preparation

Initial Preparation




  1. Soak tamarind in warm water for 10 minutes and filter the juice – keep aside
  2. Dry roast black pepper and dry grind to fine powder
  3. Add sambar powder and pepper powder  (Using non-roasted pepper powder might be too spicy and might change the taste of the kuzhambu)
  4. Cut shallots, garlic and okra in required sizes



  1. Heat 3 tsp oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds
  2. When mustard splutters, add fenugreek seeds and curry leaves
  3. Add whole or thinly sliced deskinned shallots and garlic cloves and fry a bit
  4. Add the okra and fry a while
  5. Add the sambaar powder-pepper powder mixed spice and stir well; adding the spice powder at this point makes the curry darker in colour
  6. Dilute the tamarind extract with 1 cup water and add to the vegetable-spice dry mix
  7. Add salt to taste and bring the curry to boil and simmer
  8. Let the vegetables cook in tamarind and spice mixture in open kadai – closed chatti/kadai might make the curry thinner
  9. When the vegetables are cooked and the gravy thickened, kuzhambu is done
  10. Heat 2 tbsp oil and pour over the curry
  11. Puli Kuzhambu is served with hot rice, kootu (vegetable-lentil stew) and appalam (south Indian plain pappad).






  1. Generally, shallots are not cut or halved, but depending upon preference one can also thinly slice.. this helps when you do not want your little ones to place aside shallots or garlic but enjoy their goodness
  2. When the curry powder is added while frying the vegetable, it gives a darker brown colour to the kuzhambu or else the curry would have a reddish colour – as we have always seen puli kuzhambu as a darker coloured curry, for a undoubtful colour this method works
  3. As mentioned earlier, if one is making the curry powder at home, roast the red chillies to a darker brown colour to get the colour in the curry
  4. Tamarind used should be the dried one. Fresh tamarind is not used  in cooking curries. The dried tamarind which is black in colour also aids in the brown colour of the end product
  5. More pepper powder can be added according to spice preference
  6. The last step mentioned above – to add heated gingelly oil on top of the curry, gives a distinctive, wonderful flavour and beautiful glow to the kuzhambu.. so do not miss this step
  7. The ulundham paruppu/dehusked black gram shown in the seasoning list picture is purely out of practice – any seasoning is inclusive of black gram … here it is not added as the inclusion of lentil is believed to reduce the storage value of the curry.


In hens, tamarind has been found to lower cholesterol in their serum, but not in the yolks of the eggs they laid. Due to a lack of available human clinical trials, there is insufficient evidence to recommend tamarind for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia or diabetes.


Mor Kuzhambu/Buttermilk Curry


easy to digest – Tirunelveli Mor Kuzhambu


Mor Kuzhambu is a simple yoghurt curry. Mor means buttermilk and kuzhambu means gravy or curry in tamil language. In the north of India, the gravy made with yoghurt is called ‘Kadi’. Mor Kuzhambu looks like the north Indian ‘Kadi’, but the flavour of mor kuzhambu is enhanced by the ground coconut mixture and it is thinner in consistency. It is a really light gravy and very less or nil in pungent spices, which makes it easily digestible.

Vegetables like okra, long squash (lauki) or ash guard (white pumpkin or petha) are generally used in making this kuzhambu. Vadai (vada or deep-fried lentil balls) made fresh with soaked and ground kadalai paruppu/channa dal/bengal gram can also be used instead of vegetables to make mor kuzhambu.

When I was young, Mor Kuzhambu used to be our Sunday Lunch Special. Mostly, amma used to make ‘vadai potta mor kuzhambu’ or buttermilk curry with deep-fried lentil balls soaked in it. Sometimes, with vegetables.

 A few years ago, I had the splendid privilege of having aachi – my paternal grandmother and thatha – my grandfather come and stay with us for a while. When I wanted to cook something special for thatha, aachi suggested mor kuzhambu – one of his favourites and very easily digestible at any age.

Now, destiny had knocked my kitchen door to make me realise what I had missed so long.

I asked her to guide me. The step by step process of making mor kuzhambu…  the exotic aroma of grinding coconut with many more ingredients… the blended colour of buttermilk/beaten yoghurt with turmeric and the ground ingredients… the flavour of the vegetable cooked in this kuzhambu/gravy…. all made me relish the art of making mor kuzhambu and love tasting it too!

This is traditional tirunelveli style mor kuzhambu… thoothukudi mor kuzhambu might be different.

(Note: Amma’s mor kuzhambu is equally tasty… she always makes this mor kuzhambu she learnt from her mother-in-law – the same grand old lady of the household! I recollected this exact recipe from amma)

Mor Kuzhambu tastes best with ash gourd – vellai poosanikkai in tamil and petha in hindi.


vellai poosani/ash gourd


A few nutritional aspects of ash gourd –


Ash-gourd is loaded with nutrients. It’s an excellent source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), a good source of vitamin B3 (niacin), and vitamin C. It is also rich in many minerals like calcium. Its high potassium content makes this a good vegetable for maintaining a healthy blood pressure.

Ash-gourd is alkaline in nature and hence has a cooling and neutralizing effect on stomach acids and as such used effectively for treating digestive ailments like hyperacidity, dyspepsia, and ulcers. Ash-gourd juice is a popular home remedy for peptic ulcers. Ash-gourd juice is also used to treat diabetes.

Ash-gourd is also useful in treating respiratory disorders like asthma, blood-related diseases, and urinary diseases like kidney stones



Mor Kuzhambu/Buttermilk Curry

 Ingredients (serves approximately 4)

  • cubed vellai poosani/ash guard – 2 cups
  • water – 1/4 cup to cook the vegetable
  • butter milk – beat 3 cups curds with 1/2 cup water together
  • turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp
  • salt – to taste
  • coriander leaves – for garnish
  • asafoetida powder – 1/4 tsp


cubed vegetable


Grind to Paste

  • freshly grated coconut (do not use desiccated or dried coconut) – 1/2 cup
  • pottukadalai/roasted channa dal (chutney dal) – 2 tbsp
  • minced ginger – 1 tsp
  • cumin Seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Green Chillies – 3 no.s (according to spice level of chillies)




 grind to paste


 mix with buttermilk



  • cooking oil – 2 tsp
  • mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • red chillies – 1 broken into two halves
  • curry leaves – a few


add yoghurt mixture into cooked vegetable



beautiful yellow colour


Method of Preparation

  1. Peel the skin, remove seeds and cube vellai poosani/ash gourd
  2. Heat oil in an iruppu chatti/ kadai and add mustard seeds
  3. When mustard seeds splutter, add red chilly and curry leaves
  4. Then add the cubed vegetable and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  5. Pour in 1/4 cup water and a pinch of salt; Cover and cook the vegetable in medium heat till done
  6. Beat the curds and water to make buttermilk
  7. In a wide bowl, add the ground paste, 1/2 tsp turmeric powder, asafoetida and salt to buttermilk and mix well
  8. Pour this buttermilk mixture to the cooked vegetable in the iruppu chatti/kadai
  9. Stir gently in low heat till everything blends well
  10. While getting cooked, the raw yoghurt gravy transforms into a beautiful light yellow colour kuzhambu
  11. Keep stirring till the kuzhambu comes to boil
  12. Kuzhambu is done
  13. Do not increase heat or boil the gravy too much as the buttermilk will lose its consistency or curdle
  14. Add very little water if kuzhambu is too thick
  15. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves
  16. Serve hot with rice.


mor kuzhambu done



  1. Never add desiccated or frozen coconut – freshly grated coconut tastes best
  2. Yoghurt should be beaten well – this avoids quick curdling while cooked
  3. Always cook in sim or medium heat to avoid curdling
  4. Kuzhambu should be stirred gently
  5. Other vegetables like vendaikkai/okra, suraikkai/bottle gourd, vellarikkai/cucumber or poosanikkai/pumpkin taste good in mor kuzhambu.

The Indispensable Sambar

Sambar can easily be the most favourite of all kuzhambus in south indian cuisine. This is the  second course  in a Tamilnadu meal ( This is a lentil and vegetable gravy prepared with an exclusive podi/powder called the Sambar Podi. One cannot find a south indian or especially Tamilnadu household without Sambar Podi or Powder. Though there are several sambar powders available in stores across the world, in traditional homes or in most households, the powder is still prepared by mothers and given to their daughters.  I still get it from Amma and have no plans of making my own in the near future too! My mother got it from her mother and now it is my turn!


amma’s sambar podi


Since the basic sambar powder is a household preparation, transferred from mothers to daughters, the taste of Sambar in each home differs in taste and looks. Though thuvaram paruppu/thuvar dhal/split pigeon pea is the lentil used in the sambar to be had with rice, the vegetables used and the combination of the ingredients used in the powder differs. This gives the specific flavour of Sambar of each household.

Sambar is had with Idlis, Dosais, Uppumas, Adais, Idiyappams – all breakfast/dinner items and with starters or with deep-fried snacks like vadais, bondas and many more. When lunch and dinner has rice as the base food, sambar is the most preferred. A busy day’s simple lunch would constitute rice and sambar with a vegetable side-dish and rice and curds to end. Sambar to go with idlis and dosais differs from the sambar made for rice. 


sambar saadham/sambar rice


Several ingredients are dry roasted and ground in the  mill as each family makes it in plenty to store for months and packs for daughters like me.  When I came to live in a country very far from Chennai, and the Sambar powder that amma sent with me would be done in five to six months time… my chithi (mother’s sister) gave me this idea. She dry roasted all the ingredients needed for sambar powder and packed them in several packets. After amma’s ready-made sambar powder would be done, she asked me to just re-roast one packet each time, and powder it in a blender and fresh sambar powder would be ready.  Thankyou Chithi!! That was an excellent idea for some fresh sambar powder without struggling for the ingredients each time.


chithi’s ingredients for sambar


So, till today, I do not know to make traditional sambar powder – thanks to amma and chithi. But to inform my readers about the ingredients that go into my sambar powder – I collected this from amma.

Note: Chithi’s powder is different from amma’s!!


Sambar Powder


  • kothumalli vithai/coriander seeds – 1/2 kg
  • milagai vatral/red chillies – 1/2 kg
  • kadalai paruppu/bengal gram – 100 gms
  • thuvaram paruppu/split pigeon peas – 100 gms
  • uluntham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 100 gms
  • seeragam/cumin seeds – 4 tsp
  • venthayam/fenugreek seeds – 2 tsp
  • raw rice – 1oo gms


ingredients to be dry roasted


Method of Preparation

  1. In a hard bottomed vessel, dry roast all the ingredients except rice
  2. Separately roast rice – after a while the rice would puff up – 100 gms of rice would become nearly 200 gms, after roasted
  3. Spread in a plate and cool it for a short while
  4. Dry grind into a smooth powder
  5. Sambar Powder is ready.


Take measurements in limited quantities for less powder.

Now to the making of Sambar … Generally in Tamilnadu, Sambar is made with split pigeon peas and one vegetable – Murungaikkai Sambar (drumstick sambar), Mullangi Sambar (radish sambar), Kathirikkai Sambar (brinjal sambar), Vendaikkai Sambar (okra sambar),  Avaraikkai Sambar (indian broad beans sambar), Mangai Sambar (raw mango sambar), Keerai Sambar (spinach sambar) and a nearly never-ending list of sambar varieties.


mixed vegetables for sambar


Sometimes it can be a combination of two vegetables -like murungaikkai-kathirikkai sambar – drumsticks and brinjals with lentils. Even though, we find many other vegetables like carrots or beans  in sambars in restaurants, traditionally it is not preferred even now. When there are guests from different parts of the world or even from other parts of India, I do mix up a variety of vegetables.. but when it comes to family alone, then there is only one vegetable – which does not go the non-sambar way!


vegetables cooking in tamarind water and sambar powder


Thakkali sambar (tomato sambar) and onion sambar (shallots sambar) are generally had with idlis, dosais or pongal.


Mullangi Sambar/Radish Sambar


shallots, tomato and radish


Ingredients (serves 4)

  • cooked thuvaram paruppu/split pigeon peas/toor dal – 2 cups
  • tamarind – lemon sized ball
  • shallots – 10-12 nos
  • thinly sliced mullangi/radish – 1 cup
  • tomato – 1 no.
  • sambar powder – 2 tsp
  • salt – as needed
  • coriander leaves – for garnishing


  • oil – 2 tsp
  • kadugu/mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • uluntham paruppu/dehusked black gram – 1/2 tsp
  • venthayam/fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp (optional)
  • perungayam/asafoetida – 1/2 tsp
  • karivepilai/curry leaves – a few


tamarind juice and cooked lentil



Method of Preparation

  1. Soak tamarind in hot water for half an hour; Mix it well with hands and strain it
  2. Thinly slice radish and cook the lentil till soft
  3. Heat oil in an iruppu chatti/hard bottomed vessel
  4. Add mustard seeds, when it splutters add dehusked black gram and fenugreek seeds 
  5. When black gram turns golden brown, add curry leaves and shallots
  6. Add chopped tomatoes, fry for a while and add sliced radish
  7. Pour the strained tamarind juice and sambar powder and salt
  8. Add more water if needed and close the vessel with lid and let the vegetable cook in the tamarind juice and sambar powder
  9. When the radish is cooked, add the cooked lentil and mix well
  10. Bring it to boil, check salt and add very little water if needed to bring sambar to pourable consistency
  11. Sprinkle asafoetida and coriander leaves
  12. Sambar is ready; Serve with hot rice.


mullangi sambar/radish sambar



  1. In Thoothukudi or Tirunelveli Sambar, tomatoes are not used. Here, tomatoes are used to reduce tamarind
  2. Tamarind juice/pulp, lentil and vegetables can be reduced or increased as per preference
  3. Kuzhambus/gravy dishes generally start with seasoning, and all other ingredients are added to it for cooking. So, all kuzhambus start with mustard seeds and black gram and then the vegetables are added gradually
  4. Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli Sambars (Thoothukudi and Tirunelveli are my mother’s and father’s native places respectively) have ground coconut added in the end – that can be a different recipe all together… might be in the near future!

Mullangi Kuruma/Raddish Kuruma

This is a spicy kuruma I learnt from one my very good friends in Bangalore. Though she makes this better than me, I am not that bad a learner. This goes well with idlis, dosais, aapams, chapatis and rice too! Some children might not like the pungent smell and taste of radish – even grown ups. This is a better way to make them enjoy the goodness of radish.

For some health tips on radish –

White Radish is also called Japanese radish, Oriental radish, Chinese radish, lo bok and Mooli. It is a mild flavoured, very large, white East Asian radish.


Radishes are very low-calorie root vegetables.  They are very good source of anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber. Fresh Radishes are rich in vitamin C.  Vitamin C is a powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant required by the body for synthesis of collagen. Vitamin C helps body scavenge harmful free radicals, prevention from cancers, inflammation and helps boost immunity. In addition, they contain adequate levels of folate, vitamin B-6, riboflavin, thiamine and minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and calcium.  (


Mullangi Kuruma/Mooli-Radish Kuruma


the coconutty kuruma



  • mullangi/radish – 500 gms
  • garlic – 5 cloves
  • vengayam/onion – 1 no. (big)
  • tomatoes – 2 no.s
  • grated fresh coconut/desiccated coconut – 3 tbsp
  • turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  • red chilli powder – 1 tsp
  • garam masala – 1 tsp
  • salt – as needed
  • water – 1 cup
  • oil – 2 tsp
  • coriander leaves to garnish



Method of Preparation

  1. Cut mullangi/radish into long pieces
  2. Cut onions and tomatoes into big pieces and keep them separately
  3. Heat one teaspoon oil in a kadai
  4. Fry garlic cloves and cut onions till golden brown
  5. Add grated coconut and fry well
  6. Add cut tomatoes and fry till they are soft and pulpy
  7. Blend into a paste and keep aside
  8. Take one tea-spoon oil in a pressure cooker, add the paste and fry a bit
  9. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala and salt and fry well
  10. Since only one teaspoon oil is used to fry, keep stove in sim position – otherwise it might get burnt
  11. Add cut radish and mix well
  12. Add water and check salt
  13. Cook in high flame till first whistle; Simmer and cook till one more whistle and turn off stove
  14. Garnish with coriander leaves and Kuruma is ready to be served.


kuruma with groundnut



  1. Coconut can be substituted with groundnuts – 1/2 cup roasted ground nuts can be added while blending fried garlic, onion and tomatoes.
  2. Groundnuts give a glowy oily texture to the kuruma
  3. For the calorie conscious – no coconuts, no groundnuts – omit these and pressure cook. When the kuruma is done, add 1/2 cup milk/skimmed milk to give it a creamy consistency. 

Vellai Kuruma – White Kuruma

Kurma or Korma is basically a gravy dish where vegetables or meat is cooked or braised in a  sauce with different combinations of spices to go with steamed rice or chappathi. It is made quite spicy and colourful with tomatoes, garam masala and ground coconut paste in tamilnadu. For main courses like Idiyappam or Aappam, chicken or mutton kurma are considered the best combination. I named this white kurma because this was quite different from other kurmas which are red or orange in colour.

When we visited Tamilnadu, one of our friends Shanti served us this dish with ‘very simple’ in looks but ‘can’t stop licking the fingers’ kind of taste.  She offered this kurma with hot idlis or steamed rice cakes. I could’nt really come to a conclusion to whether the colour of it or the subtle taste of the vegetables cooked in coconut paste and spices made it so appealing.

This goes well with aappams or idiyappams too!


  • Cubed carrots, beans, potatoes – 1/2 cup each
  • Green Peas – 1/2 cup
  • Cauliflower florets – 1/2 cup
  • Chopped onion – 1 no.
  • Ginger – Garlic paste – 1 tsp
  • Freshly Grated Coconut – 5 tsp
  • Cashewnuts – 7 nos
  • Fennel seeds (perunjeeragam – saunf) – 3 tsp
  • Green Chillies – 2 nos ( according to the spicce of chilly)
  • Lemon Juice – 3 tsp
  • Oil – 2 tsp
  • Cardamom, cloves – 3 nos. each
  • Cinnamon – 1 small twig
  • Salt  – to taste
  • Coriander leaves – to garnish

Method of preparation

  1. Pressure cook or steam all the vegetables till done
  2. If pressure cooked, use the vegetable stock while cooking
  3. Blanch cauliflower separately
  4. Grind grated coconut, cashewnuts, fennel seeds and green chillies to a fine paste
  5. Make a paste of ginger and garlic separately
  6. Take oil in a wide chatti (cooking pan)
  7. Add the dry masalas and ginger garlic paste and fry
  8. Add the chopped onions and fry for a moment
  9. Next, let the cooked vegetables go in
  10. Add in the ground paste and mix well
  11. Add stock if vegetables were pressure cooked or just water
  12. Adjust water according to the consistency
  13. Add salt to taste and bring it to boil
  14. Simmer and let it cook for 5 minutes
  15. Juice of lemon should be added after turning off stove and just before serving
  16. Serve garnished with coriander leaves.

Kaaikari Sodhi – Vegetable Stew (Maapillai Sodhi -The Son-in-law Stew)

Kaaikari Sodhi – Vegetable Stew

In Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi – the down south districts of tamilnadu, kaaikari sodhi or vegetable stew is a special recipe. Speciality lies not only in its preparation but also in the occasion. The hindu marriage is held in the morning hours of the day. Evening is the reception with nalangu and simple games between bride and groom.  Next morning also has small and simple ceremonies with only close family members. Though the marriage is done by the bride’s family, this next day meal is hosted by the groom’s family which is Rice and Vegetable Stew.

From now on, the Stew travels hand in hand with the son-in-law. At least for the first few years, whenever the groom and bride visit relative’s places, they are always offered rice and vegetable stew with more delicacies.  As stew is cooked with coconut milk, for easy digestion it is always accompanied by ginger chutney.


  • carrots, beans, potatoes – cut into rectangular pieces – 1 cup
  • green peas – 1/4 cup
  • cauliflower – cut into small florets – 1/2 cup
  • small onions – 6 no.s
  • garlic – cut vertically – 6 cloves
  • cooked yellow lentil (peeled broken greengram – moong dal)  – 1/2 cup
  • cooking oil – 2 tsp.
  • salt – to taste

coconut milk: 

  • i. 1st milk – thick milk extracted  with less water – 1 cup
  • ii. 2nd milk – thinner than first with more water added while grinding – 1 cup
  • iii. 3rd milk – thinnest of all – 1 cup
  • coriander leaves – to garnish
  • lemon juice – 5 tsp


  1. mustard seeds  – 1tsp
  2. curry leaves – a few
  3. green chillies – slit into halves – 3 no.s

Method of preparation

  1. Cook all the vegetables except cauliflower in the third milk until tender
  2. Blanch cauliflower separately
  3. Keep aside the cooked yellow lentil
  4. Heat oil in a heavy pan and add mustard seeds. let them splutter.
  5. Fry the onions, garlic cloves, green chillies and curry leaves. If small onions are not available, normal onions can be cut and used
  6. Add the cooked vegetables and the milk used for cooking and the cauliflower florets into the pan
  7. Add salt and bring it to boil
  8. Simmer and add the 2nd milk and stir
  9. Add the cooked lentil. Make it a little pulpy by adding some water. Or else lumps might be formed
  10. When this comes to a boil, add the thick 1st milk. Simmer for a while. Do not let it boil too much or else the coconut milk might curdle.
  11. Little water or thin coconut milk can be added for the right consistency
  12. Just before serving, add the lemon juice and mix well
  13. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice

This stew is always had with Inji Thuvayal or Ginger Chutney. See inji thuvayal-ginger chutney for the recipe.

Tip: To make stew faster, vegetables can be steamed and thick 1st milk/canned coconut milk can be added instead of 1st, 2nd and 3rd milk. Though taste might differ a little, it is less time consuming.