Vendakai Vatha Kuzhambu/ Tangy Okra Curry

Vatha Kozhambu (Shallots In A Spicy Tamarind Gravy)

This is a traditional South Indian recipe. There are many variations to this recipe and a large variety of vegetables or dehydrated berries(Turkey berry, cluster beans, etc;) are simmered in a spicy tamarind sauce. Usually served with hot rice and ghee, but goes well with Dosas and Idlis too. I have used Sambar powder here, though Vatha Kozhambu powder is also used, there is not much difference in the taste and Sambar powder works well. For the recipe of Sambar Powder click here. Let’s get to the recipe without much ado.


PREP TIME: 20 Mins                                           COOK TIME: 15 Mins
 TOTAL TIME: 35 Mins                                       COURSE:  MAIN
 CUISINE: SOUTH INDIAN                               SERVINGS: 4
                                                                               AUTHOR: Rajni Ram


Shallots 200 gm skinned
Tomato 1 large
Tamarind lemon sized ball( soaked in water and pulped)
Salt as per taste
Sambar powder 1 tbsp
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
Asafoetida 1 tsp
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds 1/2 tsp
Dry red chillies 2 broken
Curry leaves a few
Sesame oil/ Til oil 1 tbsp( can use more if you prefer)
Peel the skin off the Shallots and keep ready. Chop the tomatoes. Soak a lemon sized ball of tamarind in a little warm water, let it cool and extract the pulp. Now in a pan or karahi take a tablespoon of Sesame/Til oil and heat. Add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, dry red chillies, and curry leaves and saute for a minute. Add the Shallots and saute until they start turning translucent. Now add the tomatoes and continue to saute for a minute. Add the dry spices- Sambar powder, turmeric powder, and red chilli powder and continue to stir fry. If the mixture is too dry add another 2 teaspoons of oil, otherwise the masala may burn. Saute for another minute and pour the tamarind pulp and add the salt. Stir well and allow it to simmer on low flame until it thickens and reduces a bit. The oil will form a layer on top and the mixture will reduce, at this stage put off the stove. The Shallot Vatha Kozhambu is ready to serve with hot rice, Dosas, Idlis etc.
Direction to make Sambar powder is given under the label powders.
1. Assemble all ingredients. Shallots skinned and tomatoes chopped. Soak tamarind(lemon sized ball) and get the pulp.


2. In a pan/karahi heat some Til oil(preferable, if not continue with refined oil). Add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, dry red chillies, asafoetida, curry leaves, and fry.


3. Add the shallots and stir well so that the oil coats all the shallots. Fry until they turn translucent. Add the tomatoes and continue to stir fry for another minute.


4. Now add in all the dry spices- Sambar powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, and continue to fry. If the mixture is too dry after adding the powders, then add 2 tsp of oil and fry, until the raw taste of the masalas is gone.


5. Pour the tamarind pulp and in the salt and stir well and allow the mixture to boil. Let it simmer until the mixture thickens and reduces in quantity. The oil will form a layer on top. At this stage put off the stove. The Shallot Vatha Kozhambu is ready to serve with hot rice and ghee.


1. I have used Shallots here, other vegetables that can be used are Drumsticks, Ladies finger, Onions, dehydrated berries like Turkey berry(Sundakai), and even dehydrated vegetables like Cluster beans, Bitter gourd, etc.
2. Sesame oil enhances the flavour of the dish, so I highly recommend it.
3. Frying the dry masalas in the oil well(step4), gives the dish the perfect flavour.
4. The fenugreek seeds also impart the aroma a lovely flavour to this dish, but they should be used in the quantity mentioned and not more, as they can turn the dish bitter. 
If you tried this recipe and liked it please comment below. I would love to hear from you.