Friday, March 22, 2013

Kara Kuzhambu

I never knew that there is a curry called kara kuzhambu until we came to chennai. My native is Madurai. I find there are few differences between this one and our own traditional puli kuzhambu though both are tamarind based gravies.

I do not add tomatoes or coconut in Puli kuzhambu. It is traditionally made only with pearl onions, tamarind, garlic, fenugreek & mustard seeds, vegetables and spice/sambar powder in Gingelly oil. But I find tomatoes and coconut are added in kara kuzhambu. Most of the kara kuzhambu recipes I have come across contains tomatoes but only few of them has coconut and/or fenugreek seeds as ingredients.

There is a bit of difference in method too.. I extract tamarind juice with 3-4 cups of water and do not add just plain water. But I find my neighbors preparing kara kuzhambu with tamarind extract using only one cup of water and add 2-3 cups of water to the curry. This way, I find kara kuzhambu is less tangier than the Puli kuzhambu. But I've come across people prepare with the exact ingredients of a puli kuzhambu but they still call it as kara kuzhambu. 

I am not confusing you any more. Finally, I would say Puli Kuzhambu is an authentic recipe and Kara Kuzhambu is a fusion because of addition of tomatoes and other variations. Tomato is not used in ancient India. It is a recent addition to our Indian cuisine. Hope everyone knows this.. But some prepare the curry in an authentic way, like Puli Kuzhambu but still call it as Kara Kuzhambu.

I think I will stop differentiating and go into this recipe. I may differ from many of you regarding these two curries and its preparation. But it is my inference. Please feel free to comment so that everyone can understand better. 

Check out my Puli Kuzhambu recipe here.


Vegetables / Elephant foot yam  
Tomato 1
Tamarind - small lemon sized 
Dry Red Chillies 3-4 (depends upon the hotness of chillies and one's taste; i've used very hot chillies)
Coriander Seeds 2 tbsp (levelled)
Grated Coconut 3-4 tsp
Pearl Onions (few) / Red Onion -1
Mustard seeds
Gingelly Oil or any Cooking Oil


Soak Tamarind in a cup of water. Chop Pearl Onions and Tomatoes. Grate Coconut. Chop tomato into small cubes.


Dry roast coriander seeds and red chillies. Let it cool and then powder the mixture.

In a pan, add mustard seeds, when they start popping up, add the curry leaves and onions. When they turn slightly brown, add the chopped tomato. When it is cooked well and oil separates, add chopped vegetables. Here I've used Chenai Kizhangu (Elephant Foot Yam). Fry for a while. Now add tamarind juice extracted using one cup of water.

Add the ground powder masala, water and salt. Allow boiling. When it is almost done, add the grated coconut.

Serve with steamed rice.

Notes: Instead of coriander seeds and red chillies, sambar powder can also be added. Vegetables such as Drumstick and Brinjal can be used in this curry both together or as alone. Okra can also be used but this doesn't combine well with other vegetables. Elephant foot yam can also be used like this recipe.


meena said...

spicy tangy gravy with hot rice ,yum...

Unknown said...

I also came to know abt kara kulambu only after marriage at my MIL home. Before that , we prepare only puli kulambu. Nice to know that you are also from Madurai....

Beena said...

Good recipe. First time your blog am following u .Glad if u will follow me back dear.

Nava K said...

Its really fabulous and I love your version. Great recipe and one I will love to cook for my family.

Prema said...

Yum,lov it at any time...

Priya Suresh said...

Kara kuzhambu with papads,i can die for,my fav.

Aravinth said...

I feel the kaara kulambu differs from puli kulambu in two distinctive ways

1. It is prepared with less liquid content, meaning that most of the water is allowed to be evaporated during the cooking process.

2. Eventually, it is cooked until the oil separation brings that authentic taste to the kaara kulambu.

Also pls let me know what else makes this distinctive..