Sunday, February 21, 2010

Back to the Grassroots of South Indian Cuisine: One Hot Curry !!!

South Indian cuisine has traditionally been replete with spicy foods. The foods that I see nowadays in the South Indian restaurants totally lack the bold and fiery nature of the foods that  I used to remember coming out of my grandmother's kitchen. Of course, the reason for that being - the restaurants have to cater to all kinds of palates and so they try to stay middle - of - the road. But for someone who has grown up with the bold flavors of multiple spices - restaurant fare does seem tame...which is why, I try not to order South Indian curries when we go out to eat.

Of course, with the passage of time and changing lifestyles and the move to less spicy cooking in a lot of is sometimes not easy to find those genuinely spicy[but Oh, so tasty :-) foods!!!] nowadays, cooked at home or in restaurants.

One such curry which is decidedly fiery is "Vattral Kuzhambu".  This curry is definitely only for the brave of  heart and strong of stomach...yet it appeals to me on different levels - it is tangy, spicy and also has a hint of sweetness(a touch of jaggery, being the reason behind that) Also I tend to add another dimension of taste that is bitterness, by adding a significant quantity of fenugreek seeds to it...thus combining the spicy nature of the curry with the known nutritious benefits of the bitter fenugreek seeds. Basically, in our family we sometimes combine two different traditional curries - Vattral Kuzhambu and Vendhaya Kuzhambu to make Vendhaya Katthirikkai Vattral Kuzhambu - the name is quite a mouthful but it is an easy enough curry to prepare and it packs quite a nutritional wallop in the form of the fenugreek seeds.

Fenugreek is  a great aid to digestion because it contains a non-dissolving fiber. It is able to lower levels of harmful cholesterol and to regulate blood sugar levels. It is also believed to be beneficial for treating bronchitis, allergies, and congestion.

With all these nutritional benefits, is it any wonder that I prepare this curry quite often at home. Of course, I guess I have to admit that I crave the spice that comes along with the nutrition in the curry!!!

This recipe is off to the CWS - Fenugreek Seeds Event guest - hosted by Denufood and started by Priya's Easy N Tasty Recipes.

Recipe for Spicy South Indian Curry with Fenugreek Seeds and Eggplant(Vendhaya Katthirikkai Vattral Kuzhambu):

Serves: 3 or 4
Prep/Cook Time: 30 - 35 minutes

Shallots - 6 to 8 peeled
Round, small eggplant - 3 or 4 cut into small pieces 
Tamarind water - 2 cups
Toovar Dal(red gram dal) - pressure cook for 2 whistles and keep aside
Jaggery - small piece

To roast and grind into fine paste:
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 cup
Red chillies - 5 or 6
Urud Dal (split black gram) - 2 tsp
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Coriander seeds(dhania) - 1tsp
Grated coconut - 2 tbsp

For seasoning:
Mustard(rai) - 1tsp, Urud Dal - 1tsp, Red chilly pepper - 1no.(optional), few curry leaves, asafoetida(hing) - small piece soaked in water, salt and turmeric, gingelly oil or til oil - 2tsp

In a pan, add the oil and when it heats up add all the seasonings except salt and when the mustard starts to crackle, add the shallots and eggplant and let it cook till the shallots and eggplant turn a little brownish in color(almost cooked).

Add the tamarind water and salt and let it boil well for 8 to 10 minutes on medium high heat.

Then, add the ground paste and jaggery and let the mixture cook for another 5 minutes.

Finally add the cooked toovar dal(red gram dal) to the curry and let it boil for a minute or two before switching off the heat.

This curry is an awesome accompaniment to rice as well as rotis or chappathis.

Note: All ethnic items available at Asian/Indian grocery stores.


  1. Oh wow that is a hot curry but it's cool!!lol.. delicious and tasty..;0))

  2. I love hot n spicy! and that curry too ;)

  3. wooow!!!spicy and delicious curry...

  4. This kuzhambu looks hot,spicy and flavorful...That's so true about Indian restaurants..

  5. Meena
    This looks really very traditional.

  6. Want to try this one , i'm bookmarking .

  7. Lovely recipe nice colour of finished dish.Perhaps a little too hot for me.

  8. This spicy dish is perfect for this weather!!

  9. Kulambu looks hot and tasty.Colour also looks lovely.

  10. Perfect! I adore fenugreek. Thanks for stopping by my space. Lovely recipes you have here. Lots of inspiration!

  11. Hi all, glad to see my spicy curry caught your fancy...that gives me courage to post more of other spiiiiicy curry recipes(I always wonder if I am the one of the minority with the spice obsession nowadays!!!

    Nayna, you could reduce the quantity of red chillies if you try this curry.

  12. Vendhya Kathirkai vatral kuzhambu sounds awesome, very earthly flavours...I am aint using so much fenugreek these days...thanks for opening my eyes...

  13. lovely curry.nice flavors..i too love spicy food...thanks for sending it to the event !!

  14. Meena,
    My version of Vatral kuzhambu is different. I don't add tuvar dal.Yours looks really yummy and spicy,reminds me of my grandma's spicy kuzhambus.Excellent side dish to curd rice.Yum!

  15. Malar and SE, Great to see you on my blog for the first time!!

    Ramya, thanks dear!!!

  16. Thats a nice recipe,sure would be tasty,...thanks meena for dropping by and for joining in keep it touch and take care

  17. Sushma, Thanks for dropping by!!!

  18. This is so hot..but perfect for this winter weather..

  19. Hey Meena, thanks for dropping by!! I'm from Tamilnadu, but spent most of my life in Hyderabad :), are you from Kerala, which part ?

  20. hi meena!

    Yes dear, i am also from kerala..settled in chennai,,thx for visiting my blog..u ve a wonderful keep in touch..following u!

  21. Love the color , looks really spicy

  22. Ambika, HI! Nice to see you on my blog...yeah, Tamilian whose family(grandparents) settled in Kerala...however I was born in Bombay and went to school there and in is that for diversity??

    My cooking has been influenced by our life in Bommbay and Calcutta...but also love to cook very traditional Tamilian and Kerala dishes.

  23. Ambika and Priya, Thanks for visiting for the first time...loved seeing you here and very happy you are following my recipes!

  24. Katthirikkai Vattral Kuzhambu superaa irukku !!!! your recipe sounds authentic and delicious!!!

    we love spicy hot food at home, my teddies love it too ... as far as the food is tasty they don't mind eating it hot...
    they say " shhh shhhhh", & drink some water in between and they continue eating, hahahah

    Neither do we order any south Indian curries when we go out to restaurants... not only they change a nice hot curry to a mild (almost sweet) curry but also they tend to substitute the natural ingredients with the ready-made ones which tend to change the original aspect & flavour of the traditional curry!!

    nice post and BTW, thanks for dropping a word in mine, helped me to discover your recipes too!!!! nice work!!!


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