Archive for the ‘Kuzhambus and Sambars’ Category


Vatha Kuzhambu or Vetha Kuzhambu is a tangy gravy that is served with plain white rice. Originally, its  “Vathal-Kuzhambu”-meaning  Vathal-Dried vegetable, which can be preserved for a long time and kuzhambu means gravy. Dried Vathals like Sundakai vathal, Manathakali vathals are used to make this kuzhambu. However, I really like the variations and absolutely love the fact that something that would typically go in a dustbin, can actually be used to make something useful.

Most of the vegetables and fruits have a lot of the vitamins in their peel. But we tend to use the fruit and discard the peel, which is like wasting half of the nutrients. So, I have made it a practise, not to take the peel off from some vegetables and fruits. For instance, Potatoes, Carrots, Cucumbers, Zuccini, Apples, Mangoes, Suppota and few other fruits and veggies can be consumed without taking the peel off. This way, you can fully benefit from the veggies and fruits. But make sure, you wash the skin well to get rid of the wax coat.

Vatha kuzhambu is a food of South Indian Brahmins.  Poor people who couldn’t afford fresh vegetables, would still make this Vathakuzhambu and enjoy a filling and gratifying meal with Vathal kuzhambu & sutappalam( papad, which is just heated in flame and not deep fried with oil). So, it is also called a poor man’s food. It is such a wonderful dish and this orange peel vatha kuzhambu in particular is fabulous, bursting with Citrus flavor and  a mild hint of bitterness. Its also my Yogamba paati’s (my mom’s mother) all time favorite. After travelling for 4-5 days and eating food from outside, your tongue really craves for simple home made vatha kuzhambu.

A variety of Vatha Kuzhambu can be made. Like I mentioned, Sundaikai Vathals, Manathakali vathals can be used. Vegetables like Drumsticks, Red pumpkin, Small onions, Okras, Bringal, Capsicum, fresh sundaikai can be used to make vatha kuzhambu. Use one vegetable at a time, to get a unique tasting vathakuzhambu each time. Another interesting vatha kuzhambu is appalam kuzhambu, where urad dhal papad is fried and used instead of the vegetable. Though the papad gets soggy and soft, it adds an interesting flavor to the kuzhambu.

Orange(Clementine) peel

Orange(Clementine) peel


  • Clementine peel- from 2 fruits.                                                      Vatha kuzhambu-suttapalam
  • Sambar powder- 3tsp.(refer my previous post)
  • Tamarind paste-11/2 tsp.
  • Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp.
  • Salt- 1 tsp.
  • Asafoetida- a pinch.
  • Gingelly Oil- 2tsp.
  • Mustard seeds-1/2 tsp.
  • Toor dhal-1 tsp.
  • Fenugreek seeds-1/2 tsp.
  • Red chillies-2.
  • Curry leaves-an arc.
  • Rice flour- 1tsp.(optional)


  1. Peel the skin from 2 clementines.
  2. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds.
  3. After the mustards splatter, quickly add thoor dhal, fenugreek, red chillies, curry leaves, asafoetida.
  4. Then add clementine peel and saute for a minute.
  5. Now add sufficient water( 2-3 cups), and add tamarind paste.
  6. Allow it to cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Then add sambar powder, salt and turmeric.
  8. Let it simmer for 1/2 hour.
  9. The kuzhambu gets thick. If it is still thin, rice flour can be mixed with water and added(Only if required, as it could affect the original taste).
  10. Turn the heat off, cover it so, the aroma doesn’t escape.
  11. Serve with plain white rice, sutta appalam and gingelly oil.


  1. This is just like wine. The older the better. Vatha kuzhambu always tastes better the 2nd and 3rd day after you cook it.
  2. Can be enjoyed as side for Curd rice.
  3. My mom usually makes some cooked Thoor dhal, so we can enjoy some parupu saadham with vathakuzhambu.

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Sambar & Rasam powder

The key ingredient in making Sambar and Rasam are the spice powders that go into them. I had mentioned in my Pumpkin Gothsu post, that I will be giving the sambar powder’s recipe soon. So, here it is. My mom makes these powders in India and would send it to me or when ever I go to India, I bring a good amount and save them in the freezer in ziplocks, so the aroma doesn’t go away. It is  relatively easy to make these powders in India, because of the huge grinding mills available back home. Here in the US, you can make them with coffee grinding machine. But it could get laborious.

Sambar Powder or Kuzhambu Podi:

  • Coriander seeds or Dhania-2 cups.
  • Red chillies-1 cup or depending on spice level.
  • Channa Dhal-1/4 cup.
  • Urad Dhal-1/4 cup.
  • Black Pepper-1/4 cup.
  • Fenugreek or Methi seeds-1/4 cup.
  • Turmeric Powder- 2tsp.


  1. Grind everything to a fine powder and store it in a dry, air tight container.

Rasam Powder:

  • Coriander seeds or Dhania- 2cups.
  • Cumin or Jeera- 1/2 cup.
  • Black Pepper- 1/2 cup.
  • Thoor dhal-1/3 cup.
  • Mustard seeds-1tsp.
  • Red Chilly- 1cup.
  • Turmeric powder- 1 tsp.
  • Curry leaves dry- 1/2 cup.


  1. Dry roast everything separately, one by one, until a nice aroma comes from each ingredient.
  2. let it cool.
  3. Grind everything to a fine powder and store it in a dry, air tight container.

Enjoy Delicious Homemade Sambar and Rasam with these powders.



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Morekuzhambu is a traditional dish from Tamil Nadu/Kerala, made with buttermilk, coconut and indian spices. It is a dish that is very popular in the weddings and festivals. I would make this for Sunday lunch, along with vegetable dishes that would go with morekuzhambu, so we can enjoy this on a more relaxing day and may be have a short nap after the meal. Sounds good Huh? Cooking 013 

Cooking 014






Cooking 015


  • Chayote or Chow Chow-2.
  • Thick curd-1 1/2cup.
  • Shredded Coconut- 1/2 cup.
  • Ginger- 2 inch piece.
  • Green chillies-3.
  • Cumin seeds-1tsp.
  • Channa Dhal-1/2 cup.
  • Coconut Oil or Vegetable oil-1tsp.
  • Mustard seeds-1 tsp.                                                                                               
  • Methi seeds-1/2 tsp.                                                                                               
  • Red chilly-1.
  • Asafoetida-a pinch.                                                                                   
  • Salt-to taste.
  • Turmeric -a pinch-(optional).
  • Curry leaves-1 arc.


  1. Soak Channa dhal in hot water for 5 minutes.
  2. Peel and cut Chow Chow into small cubes.
  3. Whip the curd with a little water to make buttermilk.
  4. Boil the vegetable with very less water in a cooking pan.
  5. Grind Soaked channa dhal, coconuts, jeera (Cumin), green chillies, ginger to a paste.
  6. Mix the above to buttermilk, add salt, turmeric and add to boiled vegetable in the cooking pan.
  7. Reduce the heat and use a ladle to mix well every now and then, so the buttermilk doesn’t disintegrate.
  8. When it becomes frothy, turn the heat off.
  9. Keep a small seasoning pan, add oil, mustard seeds.
  10. When mustard seeds splatter, quickly add methi seeds, red chillies, curry leaves, asafoetida and add it to the morekuzhambu.
  11. Serve with Hot White Rice.


  • In health perspective, the amount of coconuts can be reduced and channa dhal can be increased. 2 spoonfuls of coconut can be added, not to compromise the originality of the recipe.
  • While adding curry leaves to the seasoning pan, stand a little far, because curry leaves will splatter from the water content.
  • Adding turmeric is purely optional. Some people like morekuzhambu to have white color. I like adding turmeric. Besides giving a rich color to the dish, it also has antibacterial properties.
  • Other popular vegetables that can be used to make morekuzhambu are Okras-ladies finger-have to be sauted in oil and added, white pumpkin, drumstick, potato, Taro or Sivapankizhangu or colocasia.

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