Chettinad cuisine – Kara Kuzhambu

On December 30, 2016

Kara Kuzhambu

The Chettinad way of life revolves around really spicy and fragrant foods that arouse the senses like no other cuisine can! This quaint little town is located about 85km away from the temple city of Madurai in Tamil Nadu. It’s easily accessible by both road and rail while the nearest airports are in Madurai and Trichy.

A spicy tamarind dish, Kara Kuzhambu is an everyday lunch dish in Tamil Nadu that is served as an accompaniment to steaming rice. This recipe can be easily adapted to the vegetables available at home or even to non-veg sometimes! With the hurry-burry modern lifestyle of nuclear families, this dish is now increasingly becoming a weekend delicacy when the family is looking forward to some wholesome, earthy food. Some crispy/fried side-dish goes very well with this gravy and rice.

Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty and see how this awesome tongue-tingling curry is made!

For Masala Paste-
Fenugreek seeds – ¼ Tsp
Coriander seeds – 2 Tsp
Fennel seeds – 1 Tsp
Dry red chillies – 2
Sambar powder – 2 Tsp
Grated coconut – ¼ cup
Salt – to taste
Sesame oil – 1 Tsp

For Seasoning –
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – ½ Tsp
Urad dal – ¼ Tsp
Curry Leaves – 6-10
Oil – 1 Tbsp

For Sautéing –
Chopped Onion – 1
Chopped Tomato – 1
Chopped Brinjals – 5
Chopped Drumstick – 1
Tamarind paste – 4 tbsp
Jaggery – 1 tsp


We first have to prepare the masala paste; for this, heat oil in a pan and add all the seeds in the ingredients section along with red chilli. Fry for a couple of minutes till you get the aroma before adding the freshly grated coconut, fry for another couple of minutes before switching off the heat. Add the sambar powder and salt and roast with the residual heat. When it has cooled down sufficiently, grind it with about half a cup of water into a smooth paste and keep aside.

Next, take a pressure cooker and add some oil and heat. Add the seasoning ingredients and allow them to splutter for a minute. Then add the chopped onion and tomato and sauté till it becomes nice and tender. Then put in the chopped vegetables of your choice, the ground masala, jaggery paste, the tamarind paste and half a cup of water. Don’t forget to adjust the salt before closing the cooker and leaving it for two whistles on medium flame. When done, switch off the flame; allow the pressure to go before opening the pot and giving it a good stir. Place into a serving dish and serve with rice and side dishes. What a heavenly way to enjoy a relaxing lunch!