Sizzling Tastebuds

Vendhaya Kuzhambu | How to make Vendhaya Kuzhambu | Mini Meal series

After yesterday’s Urundai Kuzhambu, here’s another Kuzhambu (gravy) which was practically my initiation to Tamilnadu cuisine post my wedding.

For the uninitiated, Kuzhambus are tamarind based gravies (with or without any vegetables, but definitely without any dal / lentil), whereas Sambhar was a thicker gravy with base of cooked lentils, with veggies and a little tamarind and sambhar powder thrown in.

I was so used to the latter style on an everyday basis when our 3 course meal meant rice + sambhar, rice + rasam , rice + curd / buttermilk for everyday meals 🙂


Coming from the Karnataka side of cooking , these kuzhambus / tamarind gravies not only sounded alien at first, but devilishly difficult to attempt. I should have listened to my paati (grandmom) when she was keen to give out recipes back home 🙂

And it was for me. Today when I think about it, the first time I made this 2 weeks into our wedding (with some vague idea of how it should taste), I made the kuzhambu.

Only the husband called it rasam.

And I cried.

And tried. and Tried.

Till someone pointed me in the direction of some tamil cookbooks, from where I picked up the nuances of these tamarind based gravies.

And this Kuzhambu is made almost every time the husband comes back from a long trip, and soothes his palate from the dry-and-in-your-face airline / hotel food !!

So, this mini meal is basically one of the Sunday brunches, and although the dishes look a lot, with some planning, you can put it together in less than an hour (max 75 mins) for about 4-5 people.


In the mini meal, we have (as numbered in the pic below):

1. Karivepalai Thogayal / Thuvayal (Thick Chutney made with curry leaves)

2. Maanga Saadam (raw mango flavoured rice)

3. Steamed rice

4. Vendhaya Kozhambu

5. Vendekkai Thayir Pachadi (Okra raita / Okra in yoghurt sauce)

6. Potato fry (which is a staple for our Sunday Brunch)

7. Avarekai Poriyal (flat beans stir fry)


So, lets get to the Kuzhambu. Vendhaya Kuzambu – Vegan Tamarind gravy 

Prep time : 10 mins | cook time : 15 mins | Serves : 4


  • Sesame / gingelly oil – 2 TBSP
  • Tamarind – 1 large gooseberry size
  • Hot water – 3 cups
  • Methi Seeds – 1 tsp
  • Toor dal / Thuvaram Paruppu – 1 tsp
  • Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  • Rasam / Sambhar powder – 1 TBSP
  • Jaggery & Salt – to taste
  • Asafoetida – 1/8 tsp (skip for GF version)
  • Rice flour – 2 tsp
  • Tempering : mustard seeds, broken red chillies (2), curry leaves – few



  1. Soak tamarind in hot water for 10 mins and extract the thick pulp. In a deep bottomed pan (typically a cast iron one), heat 2 TBSP oil. splutter mustard seeds, methi seeds, broken red chillies, curry leaves. 
  2. Then add the toor dal and fry for 30 secs till it turns golden brown. Add the turmeric and rasam/sambhar powder and quickly stir to fry them but not burn them
  3. Now add the tamarind pulp, requisite salt and let it cook for 10-12 mins. 
  4. Add hing / asafoetida, jaggery and cook again for 1-2 mins till it thickens.
  5. If the Kuzhambu is still watery, make a slurry paste of rice flour with 1 tsp of water and add gently. 
  6. It will be cooked, when the oil starts leaving the sides and its a thick dark gravy
  7. Check for salt and spices.
  8. Serve immediately with hot steamed rice. For a tastier version, drizzle a generous 2 TBSP more Sesame oil once done and let it sit for 2-3 hours before serving. It tastes divine.
  9. Keeps for upto 4-5 days under refrigeration. 



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  1. vaishali sabnani

    Interesting reading your post wedding cooking experiences…well we all learn over a period of time…look at the gorgeous Kuzhambu you have made for us..The complete meal looks inviting.

  2. Interesting read and that meal looks so inviting..

  3. MySpicyKitchen

    That is a mouthwatering mini meal. You should do a post on how you managed to prepared the mini meal in 75 minutes max, with pre-planning.

  4. Priya Suresh

    Omg, your mini thali is just inviting me Kalyani, and that kuzhambu makes me hungry already, fingerlicking dish definitely.

  5. That thali is so inviting. Tempering in gingelly oil adds so much flavor to this recipe na..

  6. Gayathri Kumar

    That mini meals look so inviting Kalyani. Nice to read about your kitchen adventures.

  7. Very inviting platter, Kalyani. I am looking for the pseudo banana plate/platter 🙂

  8. Amara’s cooking

    Love your platter Kalyani. Really inviting, Kuzhambu looks delicious.

  9. Yummy looking okra kuzhambu Kalyani. Your mini meal looks amazing.

  10. cookingwithsapana

    Kuzhambu looks so tasty .Love the mini meal series you are presenting.

  11. Smruti Ashar

    Wow, that is a lovely spread served traditionally. Loved the way you made it look so pretty!

  12. The Pumpkin Farm

    agree, even kuzhambu was new and untried for me until i met all of you…until then it was sambhar or rasam….like the entire platter you have prepared and i feel unless you have all the smaller elements present in the meal the individual dishes do not rise to the occassions…loving this series of yours

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