Festival Recipes

Thalagam Kuzhambu | Pongal Special from Tamilnadu

It’s amazing to note that most of our Indian festivals (and therefore rituals and food) revolve around the seasons  : Holi to celebrate the arrival of spring and Pongal / Sankrathi / Lohri to celebrate the Harvest Festival (much like the Thanksgiving festival of the West), Onam etc .

I had earlier posted for this Pongal festival :  

Today, we see how to make “Thalagam Kuzhambu” that’s made in the Tirunelveli side of Tamilnadu and served with Manjal Pongal. We however, relished this as a breakfast with Rava Pongal(semolina and split green gram based Pongal). 

Let’s get to the recipe.

Prep time – 20 mins, Cook time – 20 mins , Serves – 6 adults generously 


Thalagam Kuzhambu – Pongal special Vegan, GF Side Dish

{This dish is also made for Aridra Darshanam around the Pongal festival}

Cuisine : South Indian , Course: Side Dish {This can also be a side dish for Chapati / Poori / Curd Rice or even Steamed rice)


  • Mixed vegetables – Cut into big chunks – 2 cups **
  • Tamarind – one medium gooseberry size – soaked in 1 cup of hot water
  • Salt – to taste
  • Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
  • Gingelly / Sesame / Coconut oil – 2 TBSP (divided use)
  • (**I used Ashgourd, Drumsticks (Murungakkai) Red Pumpkin (Parangikai), Chow Chow, Raw Banana (Vazhakkai), Arbi / Colocasia (Sepankizhangu), Flat beans (Avarakai), Sweet Potato and French Beans. Brinjal may also be used, but I didn’t use). You may use few or all of these  vegetables.  You may also add Mochai (shelled field beans)

To grind:

  • Coconut – 1/2 cup
  • Urad Dal – 1 TBSP
  • Channa Dal – 1 TBSP
  • Dry Red chillies – 8 to 10 (I used Guntur Chillies)
  • Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp (or a generous pinch)
  • Raw rice – 1 TBSP
  • Sesame Seeds – 1 TBSP


  • Sesame Oil / Coconut Oil – 1/2 TBSP
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Broken Red chillies – 1 or 2
  • Curry leaves – Torn

Method (See notes at the end of this for more details)

Stage 1 :

  • Soak the tamarind in very hot water and meanwhile prep the veggies. 
  • Wash and chop the vegetables into large chunks. 
  • Pressure cook these vegetables with ONLY turmeric and very little water for 1-2 whistles. release pressure immediately. Drain the water and reserve. The vegetables should be slightly soft and cooked but not mushy . 
  • In a pan, dry roast the sesame seeds and rice separately till they are nice and aromatic. Transfer to a flat plate. Add half the oil to the hot pan, fry red chillies, urad dal, channa dal , asafoetida till golden brown. Transfer to the same plate. 
  • Now switch off flame, and add the coconut and roast in the retentive heat. Barring 2 tsp of the roasted coconut, add the rest to the fried and “to grind” ingredients. 
  • Cool all fried ingredients and grind to a slightly coarse paste using 1/4 cup or more of water.  

Stage 2:

  • In the same pan or any thick deep bottomed pan, add the tamarind extract and add 1 cup more of water, let it come to a rolling boil and the raw smell of the tamarind disappears. Now add salt, ground paste and a little more water and let it all simmer in a thickish gravy and starts leaving on the sides. 
  • Now add the cooked vegetables and the drained water. Adjust salt and seasonings and let it simmer on a low-medium flame for 8-9 mins, stirring occasionally. Add the reserved 2 tsp of roasted coconut now. Once it begins to boil, prepare the tempering. 

Stage 3:

  • In a tempering pan, heat the remaining oil. Splutter the mustard seeds, curry leaves, broken red chillies. 
  • Pour the tempering over the prepared Kuzhambu and serve hot.

PIN for later



  1. Vis a vis the traditional sambhar, this has no methi or dhanya (coriander seeds) for the masala. Also, traditionally following vegetables are NEVER used in this kuzhambu – Tomato, Onion or Garlic. 
  2. Any combo of veggies can be used. I used what was available. Apparently a mix of minimum 7 veggies needs to be used for this. 
  3. Do not add salt while cooking the vegetables, a lot of water will be released and the veggies get overcooked. Pressure cook for just 1-2 whistles with little water and a generous pinch of turmeric.  
  4. This Kuzhambu thickens quite a bit over cooling, so add a little more water while it simmers and add salt so it retains the required consistency upon cooling. 
  5. It stores well under refrigeration for 3-4 days. Can be used with even Thengai SaAdam (Coconut Rice), Ellogarai (sesame flavoured rice) or even Thayirsaadam (tempered Curd rice)  

Check out the other dishes made for Sankranthi / Pongal on this blog

Ellu-Bella (Jaggery-sesame trail mix – GF and Vegan)


Chakkara Pongal (Jaggery and Rice based Pongal)


Kalkandu Pongal (rock Candy/ Mishri Pongal)


Baked Paruppu Vadai Thali


 Oats Chakkara Pongal




  1. Poonam Bachhav

    I am amazed to see how each Indian state has its own version of mixed vegetable curry to celebrate the harvest festival.We Maharashtrians make bhogi chi bhaji, Gujarati's have their Undhiyu and now this Pongal special Halagam Kuzambu ..perfect ! Lovely share on the theme Kalyani !

  2. We make something similar, called Ezhu Thaan Kootu, to celebrate the harvest season. This Thalagam Kuzhambu looks absolutely delicious. I should try this out some time. 🙂

  3. Vidya Narayan

    Kalyani, I love this Kuzhambu simply because it is loaded with vegetables (mixed). I learnt about the Thalagam from husband after we got married as my MIL is from Thanjavur and our ancestral deity is at Tirunelveli so we have picked up a few things here and there. I loved all your Pongal specials on the blog as listed out here. Quite a collection I must say and healthy ones too. Wishing you and all at home a very happy Pongal.

  4. The curry is full of healthy nutrients and full on flavours. Seems like an interesting recipe to try. Lovely share Kalyani!!

  5. Wow this is a delicious vegetable Kalyani. I can imagine the aroma. Great share. Happy pongal to u all.

  6. What a healthy and yummy share. Every state has it's own mix vegetable recipe. In Bengal we also make different types of mix vegetables. Your looks super tempting. I can imagine the aroma of roasted and ground spices. Awesome share. Happy Pongal.

  7. Mayuri Patel

    I love learning about different ways to prepare vegetables by different parts of India. This kuzhambu preparation looks so wholesome and filling. I've yet to try making a curry using tamarind only.

  8. The fresh seasonal produce used for any dish is one of my fav   You have prepared the dish in such a lovely way… looks so healthy and full of nutritional flavors 🙂

  9. I learnt this from my mother in law. This is very tempting. Super share

  10. This is such a perfect share for the Pongal/ Harvest theme, with the fresh seasonal veggies that go into it. ! I make mine a little spicy, to go with the sweetness of the Sakkarai Pongal. Sujata Shukla from PepperOnPizza

  11. preethi'scuisine

    Thalagam Kuzhambu with fresh seasonal produce looks so delish and flavorful.Love this healthy recipe.Fab share.

  12. mildly indian

    Mil makes thalgam kozhambu, it is one of her favorites. quite similar to yours, we have it with Manjal pongal too. Love your capture

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