Chettinad Kara Kuzhambu with Drumstick and Brinjal
Is there a way to directly get teleported to South India? This Kara Kuzhambu recipe might just be that. Kara kuzhambu is a very popular dish in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu, India. This area is well known for its simple yet incredibly flavorful dishes, and this Chettinad Kara Kuzhambu is no exception to that rule!
Tamil Style Kara kuzhambu can be made with both chicken and fish as its main ingredients, but today’s recipe focuses on the vegetarian version – using two fresh vegetables, Brinjal (Kathirikai) and Drumstick (Muringakkai) – to create this delicious dish. Other variations might include black nightshade berries, chana dal, lady’s finger, or turkey berries as per individual choices. Another favorite of mine is poondu kuzhambu or garlic curry.
There are many ways of making it, but what I’m sharing is my personal favorite. First, I make a smooth flavorful paste of fried spices and then cook my Kuzhambu in a pressure cooker. This easy Indian recipe takes less than 30 minutes to cook, making it an excellent choice if you’re crunched for time in your daily routine. It is an easy-peasy recipe with a simple list of ingredients. So first, let us have a look at the ingredients list.
Ingredients For Kara Kuzhambu
You’ll need to have regular South Indian spices and tamarind in your kitchen. For this Chettinad Kara Kuzhambu recipe, these are the main ingredients.
Vegetables for Kara Kuzhambu
For this Kara Kuzhambu you need chopped brinjal (eggplant) and drumsticks, chopped tomato, and chopped onion (pearl onions).
Kuzhambu means tamarind-based curry, so you will need a lemon sized ball of tamarind, soaked in a cup of water.
Masala Paste Ingredients
To make the masala paste, which serves as the base of this Chettinad Kara Kuzhambu, Indian sesame oil (gingelly oil), coriander powder, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, red chili powder, fresh shredded coconut, salt, and sambar powder or kuzhambu milagai thool powder.
Curry Leaves and Mustard Seeds
These are the go-to ingredients for many South Indian dishes, as they lend the characteristic flavor and aroma to these dishes.
You need a little jaggery to add in the end, this does not make the Chettinad Kara Kuzhambu sweet, but adds a layer of flavor to balance the sourness of the tamarind.
Cooking Directions for Chettinad Kara Kuzhambu
So, are you ready to change the definition of your favorite vegetarian curry forever? Here, I’ll show you step-by-step pictures to make it easier to understand. Let’s start the cooking process for this Kara Kuzhambu.
Take small tender brinjals and cut them into cubes
In a large bowl half full of water, add ¼ tsp of turmeric and mix. Immerse the eggplant in this water to stop them from oxidizing.
Take fresh tamarind and extract the pulp by soaking it in water for 15 mins. You can use tamarind paste or extract as well. Both will impart a tangy flavor to your kuzhambu.
Add one teaspoon of sesame oil to a small pan and heat it at medium flame. Fry in the fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, coriander powder, and red chili powder for just one to two minutes till the seeds turn brown and release a nice aroma.
Add and fry the ground coconut paste for two minutes and then take off the flame.
Now, add salt and sambar powder or kuzhambu milagai thool powder and mix well. After five minutes, transfer the spices to a blender. Add half a cup of water to make a smooth paste of spices.
Now, take a pressure cooker and heat 1 and ½ tbsp of sesame oil. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves to it. Stir while they splutter in oil.
Now, add onions and tomatoes and sauté them for 3 to 4 minutes till soft.
Put the veggies, tamarind juice, and half a cup of water in the cooker and stir. Now, add the masala paste, salt, and jaggery. Allow the Kara Kuzhambu mixture to cook under high pressure in the cooker. Switch off the flame after two whistles.
Let the pressure release naturally, open, and stir well. Add the remaining sesame oil and some hot water to get a pourable consistency. Let the Kara Kuzhambu gravy cook at very low heat till the oil oozes out on top. After 2 to 3 minutes, transfer it to a bowl for serving.
Serve your favorite-to-be Chettinad Kara Kulambu in a lunch thali and enjoy with hot rice. You can also enjoy this delicious vegetable curry with a side of potatoes or vazhakkai varuval.
Storage Instructions for Kara Kuzhambu
You can use it for lunch and save the rest in the fridge in a closed air-tight container for later use. Finish it within two or three days.
Wrapping it Up
I’m a big fan of this kulambu given how easy it is to make and its delicious tangy tamarind-based gravy. This is just one of the many ways in which you can incorporate Chettinad cuisine into your everyday cooking. It’s never too late to start experimenting with new flavors and techniques. I hope you enjoyed this dish as much as I and my family did. Happy cooking!
Chettinad Kuzhambu is a tamarind based curry famous in the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu.
Sambar uses lentils as a base, while Kuzhambu is based on tamarind and does not involve any lentils.
Vatha Kuzhambu uses sundakkai vathal (turkey berries), but if you use other vegetables instead of vathal, you can call it Kara Kuzhambu.