Vendakai Vatha Kuzhambu/ Tangy Okra Curry

Pruppu Urundai Kozhambu (Dal Dumplings In Tamarind Sauce)

I love cooking this dish though it involves some amount of preparation and detail. Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu is a delicious traditional South Indian recipe. I learnt this from my mother in law and she was an expert at it. In this preparation, dumplings of Dal/ lentils are cooked in a tangy tamarind sauce. This dish is served with rice but goes well as a side dish for Dosas, Idli, Pongal etc. As in all recipes, there are different methods of making the dumplings. Some steam the dumplings before adding it to the sauce, while some cook it directly in the tamarind sauce. I prefer and follow the second method. The dumplings are able to absorb the flavours this way. I also love using fresh coriander in the dumplings as it realove cooking this dish though it involves some amount of preparation and detail. Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu is a delicious traditionaand add them to the sauce, whereas other recipes suggest cooking it lly elevates the dish to a different level. So when there are no coriander leaves at home I don’t make the dish. Whether coriander is added or not, this dish is just amazingly tasty. So don’t wait for the coriander, just cook on. While you are here check out the recipe of Vatha Kozhambu   A similar recipe with Shallots cooked in a tangy tamarind sauce.

Here is the recipe of Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu.
PREP TIME: 20 Mins+ soak time                  COOK TIME: 30 Mins
TOTAL TIME: 60 Mins                                  COURSE:  MAIN
CUISINE: SOUTH INDIAN                           SERVINGS: 5
AUTHOR: Rajni Ram


Tuvar dal/ Pigeon peas 2 cups soaked for 1 hour
Tamarind 2 lemon sized balls( pulp extracted)
Grated Coconut  3 tbsp
Sambar powder 2 tbsp
Dry red chillies 5
Mustard seeds 2 tsp
Asafoetida 2 tsp
Methi seeds/ fenugreek seeds
Curry leaves few
Coriander leaves(optional)
Salt as required
Directions to make Urundai( dumplings)
Drain out the water from the soaked dal and put it in the blender. Add 1 tsp asafoetida, dry red chillies 3, salt ( as per preference) and grind to a coarse mixture. Now in a karahi or pan add 1 tbsp oil to temper and sauté the mixture. As the oil heats up add 1 tsp mustard seeds, as they crackle add a few Methi seeds, broken dry red chillies, asafoetida1 tsp, curry leaves and fry them. Once they are golden brown add the coarsely ground dal mixture and salt and sauté nicely over a medium flame for 5 minutes. Add the grated coconut and keep stirring constantly as the mixture may stick to the pan/karahi bottom. This step is just to take away the moisture, the dal need not be crumbled, just stirred. After sautéing transfer the sautéed dal to another vessel and cool. Once cooled shape them into dumplings. I could make around 13 dumplings from this mixture. The dumplings should be a little bigger than a Lemon. Set the dumplings aside.
Directions for the Kozhambu( gravy/ sauce)
Extract the pulp from the tamarind and dilute it. You should have about 700 ml of tamarind juice if it’s too sour dilute with another 100 ml. Pour this diluted extract into a deep thick bottomed dish and switch on the flame. Add salt, turmeric powder, Sambar powder, asafoetida and boil. As it starts boiling and the raw smell of the masalas is gone( around 7 minutes into the process on medium flame), add one Urundai( dumpling) and test. If it doesn’t break while cooking on medium heat in the next 1 minutes, reserve 1 dumpling and all the other dumplings can be put into the tamarind water one by one after reducing the heat to low. If the first Urundai disintegrates in the water, put off the flame, undo all the dumplings and add 1 tablespoon rice flour and shape them to dumplings again and continue the process mentioned above. Cook the Urundais(dumplings) in low to medium flame while stirring gently every now and then until they start rising to the top. Once cooked the dumplings will float above. Now add about 1 cup water to the reserved dumpling and break it up. Pour this paste into the kozhambu( gravy) after the dumplings have risen and cook for 2 minutes or until the gravy has thickened to a Sambar like consistency. Switch off the flame and temper the Kozhambu with a little oil in a Kadai and put mustard seeds, followed by Asafoetida and curry leaves. The delicious Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu is ready.
Serving Suggestions: with hot rice and ghee, Dosas, Idlis, Ven Pongal, Kuthiravali Pongal( millet Pongal) etc.
1. Assemble all ingredients. Soak the Tuvar dal for 1 hour, soak the tamarind in warm water and extract the pulp, dilute pulp, grate the coconut, and keep ready.


2. Drain water from the soaked dal and put it into the blender, followed by red chillies, turmeric powder,  salt and asafoetida. Grind them to a coarse paste, without adding water.


3. Now in a karahi pour oil for tempering and heat. Put in mustard seeds. As they crackle add the methi seeds, turmeric powder, broken dry red chillies, asafoetida 1 tsp and curry leaves and fry. Now add in the dal mixture to this and start sauteeing, so that the moisture from the dal gets evaporated. Add the grated coconut, saute for another minute and switch off the flame. Finally, add some finely chopped coriander to the dal mixture.  Leave the mixture to cool.


4. In a deep vessel, preferably flat one pour the tamarind extract. It should be a dilute extract of 700 ml. Add turmeric powder 1tsp, asafoetida 1 tsp, Sambar powder 3 tbsp, salt and boil the extract on medium flame.

5. After the extract is put to boil, shape the dumplings of the Dal mixture and keep aside.


6.  When the mixture bubbles up and froths( about 5 mins from boiling) and all the raw smell of the powders is gone drop one dumpling gently into the boiling mixture. Flame on medium, wait for 2 minutes. If the dumpling does not disintegrate in this time, retain 1 dumpling and put in all the other dumplings one by one. Reduce flame to low and continue to boil.


7. As the dumplings cook in the tamarind extract they will slowly start rising to the top(I have added a short video). When all have risen, break the single reserved dumpling and add 1 cup water to it. Give it a stir so that it becomes a paste. Add this paste into the boiling tamarind gravy to thicken the gravy. Cook for 2 minutes and switch off the flame.



8. Take a small tempering Kadai and add little oil. heat and add mustard seeds, asafoetida 1/2 tsp and curry leaves. Pour the tempering into the Kozhambu.
The tasty Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu is ready to serve.


1. Definitely soak the dal, helps in binding.
2. Sometimes depending on the dal quality the dumplings can break/disintegrate in the extract while boiling. That is why I have recommended putting only a single one to test.
3. If the tester dumpling disintegrates, break up all the other dumplings and add 1 tbsp rice flour to it. Mix well and shape into dumplings again. Before you do this do not forget to switch off the flame in which the extract is cooking as we dont want it to evaporate now.
4. Some recipes recommend adding rice flour to the dal mixture while shaping them itself. I prefer not doing this as it makes the dumplings tougher or hard. So I prefer adding rice flour only if required.
If you tried this recipe and liked it please comment below. I would love to hear from you.

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.