Vatral Kuzhambu (வத்தல் குழம்பு)


Vatral Kuzhambu is an authentic South Indian speciality. Vatrals are nothing but sun dried vegetables, which are added to this  spicy, slightly sour lentil gravy. It can be made with either one variety or a combination of different vatrals and fresh vegetables. Most popular ones are Sundakkai, manathakkali, brinjal and bitter gourd. Quite easy when you have ready made sambar powder or vatha kuzhambu powder on hand. If not you need to make one and then proceed. (Vatha Kuzhambu / Vathal Kulambu / Vatra Kuzhambu / Vatha Kulambu / Vatha kolambu / Vatha kolumbu)
6 nos Dry red chilli
2 tsp Coriander seeds
2 tbsp Split red gram (toor gram)
½ tsp Black pepper corns
½ tsp Cumin seeds
¼ tsp Fenugreek seeds
¼ tsp Split black gram
4 nos Curry leaves
1 pinch Mustard (5 to 6 seeds)
20 nos Shallots (sambar onions)
2 clove Garlic
2 tsp Vatral
1 tsp Roasted peanuts
1 tsp Bengal gram
¼ tsp Mustard
¼ tsp Cumin seeds
10 nos Curry leaves
2 pinch Asafoetida powder
¼ tsp Jaggery (powdered)
¼ cup Gingelly oil
¼ tsp Turmeric powder
3 tsp Thick tamarind pulp
½ tsp Salt (or to taste)



Its always better to make vatral / vatha kuzhambu with freshly prepared spice powders. Here is how to make fresh Vatral / Vatha Kuzhambu powder. Dry roast each ingredient separately from Table- 1 (Dry red chilli, coriander seeds, split red gram(thuvaram paruppu), black pepper corn, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, split black gram, curry leaves and mustard). Let cool completely and grind to a coarse powder. 

Add small onions and garlic from table-2  to this coarsely ground powder and grind to smooth paste.

Heat gingelly oil, splutter mustard, cumin seeds, curry leaves and sprinkle the asafoetida powder. Roast the Vatrals, groundnuts and Bengal gram along with the seasoning. Now add the ground Vatral / Vatha Kuzhambu paste which was made earlier and fry until the raw smell goes away. This raw gravy could splutter all over, so be carefully and cook on low flame. Use a lid to cover  for few minutes, but keep checking to avoid the masala sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the tamarind juice, turmeric powder, salt and jaggery with 1/2 cup of water. Let cook on low flame for 10 minutes or until the oil separates from the gravy. Garnish with curry leaves and serve hot with steamed rice and pappad.


Sundakkai Vatral is used in this recipe.


Family cook

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