Nov 5, 2012

Kaara Kuzhambu

Kara Kuzhambu is one of the few dishes that I hated , as a child. I was one of those few South Indians that preferred bland food to spicy food. Give me a good white sauce pasta anytime, I say!
My preferences ran to cheese, yogurt, curd... you get the idea. I was known to ask for curd rice when my mom had just cooked biryani and 3 kinds of meat dishes ! In fact, I am the absolute opposite of  what a foodie blogger should be. Try as hard as I may, I couldn't think of anything nostalgic about kara kuzhambu. Except that, Kara kuzhambu, when cooked right, would have a sweet undertone to it. Here's how:


  • Vegetables - chopped in big chunks, 1 cup. Good candidates are okra, cooked and peeled yam (சேப்பங்கிழங்கு) etc.
  • tomato - 1 big, chopped coarsely 
  • onion - 1 small, coarsely chopped. Cut the onion into quarters. Keeping all quarters together, run your knife cross wise twice. this will yield approximately one inch square pieces.
  • tamarind - 1 small lime sized ball
  • red chilli powder - 1 teaspoon
  • corriander powder - 1 tablespoon
  • garlic - 4-5 cloves
  • turmeric powder - 1 teaspoon
  • gingelly oil - 1 tablespoon, optional
For seasoning (தாளிப்பு):
  • mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
  • fenugreek seeds - 1 teaspoon
  • cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
  • curry leaves - 1 sprig
  • cilantro - 5 sprigs
  • asafetida - a pinch
  • high heat oil - 1 tablespoon
  1. Prepare tamarind water
  2. In a sauce pan on medium heat, pour a high heat oil of your choice. When it has heated through, but not smoking, add mustard seeds. After the seeds splatter, add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, asafetida and curry leaves. Let this saute for a minute.
  3. Add onions and garlic and fry until they are translucent.
  4. Add tomatoes and sweat it with a little salt.
  5. When everything has turned mushy, add chilli powder and corriander powder to the pan.
  6. If you plan to add any vegetables, add it now. Also add turmeric powder.
  7. When the raw smell of the powders have dissipated, pour tamarind water in this.
  8. Let this boil for 5 minutes. Taste and adjust salt, water and chilli powder per taste.
  9. Server over hot fluffy rice. Since this is spicy, any relatively bland side dish like cabbage poriyal and microwave appalam pairs well with it.
  • If the kuzhambu tastes too sour/tangy, it means you did not add enough salt.
  • After adding the tamarind water, be sure to let it boil for 5 minutes. This contributes to the thickness of the stew.

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