Vattalkozhambu ( spicy Tamrind sauce with turkey berries )

A very popular recipe from South India particularly Tamil nadu cuisine is the Vattal Kuzhambu, /Vattazh Kuzhambu , a deeply reduced aromatic tamrind sauce spiced with the Indian spices like cumin, fenugreek, red chillies, and the star of the dish is the Sundakkai or the Manathalai , used to roast and simmer in the broth.

It lends a particularly sour, tangy spicy taste which is a great appetizer also. Even a sick perosn will not refuse a ladle of this sauce with plain rice and a dry roasted papad will suffice to satisfy the soul!.

Yes Soul food , that's what it is!!

Yet its not so easy to get the exact blend of all the tastes of the sourness, spice, and the tanginess in the right proportions ,if you decide to fast forward the procedure.

Cannot be too watery, or too thick. Well enough said on the simple dish and let us now look at  the interesting things WIKI has to say about Kuzhambu in general for those  who are not familiar  with the word kuzhambu.

Kuzhambu  is a dish common in South India and  SriLankaTamil cuisines, and is primarily made of a variety of dals.
Kuzhambu is a stew based on a broth made with tamarindurad (bean) dal and toor dal, and can include vegetables. The dish is very popular as a side for rice in the southern regions of India especially in Tamil NaduKarnataka and Kerala. The number of varieties of kuzhambu are countless, with each state in the South preparing it with a typical variation, adapted to its taste and environment.

The preparation of kuzhambu vary greatly with the type of kuzhambu to be made, but its basic preparation methods include first frying curry leavesmustard seeds, and dry chili pepper over vegetable oil on a heated stove. For kuzhambu that includes vegetables, cut the vegetables and fry them if required for the kuzhambu. For some types of kuzhambu, such as vathal kuzhambu, heat a separate pan with oil, and use this to fry the dals, other spices, onions, and garlic. In general, kuzambu does not include onions. Add tamarind juice, which is made in advance by soaking tamarind with water, and bit of jaggery.


Tamarind - size of a lime. 
3 long red dry chillies
2 tbsp of manathakali or sundakkkai vattal/turkey berry      

Salt to taste       

Sambhar/Kuzhambu Powder – 1 & 1/2 Table spoon ( ingredients for powder given below)
Pinch of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp fenugreek seeds for seasoning
2 tsp toor dal for seasoning
pinch of asafoetida/hing powder
sprigs of curry leaves

Vattalkuzhambu powder

 1 cup  Red chillies
 1 cup coriander seeds
 1/4 cup Toor dal
1/4 cup chana dal
2 tablespoons udad dal
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds/ jeera
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds/meth
Pinch of asafoetida/hing

  3 tbsp Sesame Oil -


 In little oil, roast all the above ingredients to a golden colour and then when cooled grind them to a fine powder. Store this in an air tight container. Note you will need only 1 1/2 tbsp to 2 tbsp to make vattalkuzhambu each time . Store the rest in a dry clean bottle.

Soak tamarind in warm water for a few minutes and extract the pulp and add 3 cups of water to make tamarind water.     

In a pan, add oil, when heated  add the mustard seeds, add fenugreek seeds Toor Dal, Red Chillies, Asafoedita.,after mustard seeds crackles.

Fry till golden brown keeping flame low.Add the berries, sundakkai or manathakali  vathal and roast .Add sprigs of curry leaves.
 Add the Tamarind water in the pan. Add salt.

When the taramind water starts boiling, add a pinch of turmeric and also add the Sambhar powder/ or the  vattalkuzhambu powder which we have powdered .

Keep stirring the ingredients to prevent lumps forming after adding powder.
Allow it to boil till the Kuzhambu thickens. Add a bit of jaggery if you like.

You can add 1 tsp of  Rice flour mixed with little water at the end to thicken if need be.
Garnish with more sprigs of curry leaves  when done.

Serve hot with rice and sutta appalam or potato podimas the recipe  which follows next on this page.

Potato Podimas   ( mashed potatoes with mild spices and dash of lime)

 4 to 5 Medium sized potatoes
 1 or 2 green chillies slitted or chopped finely removing seeds if you want.
Small piece of ginger grated or chopped finely
Dash of lime juice to drizzle at the end.
3 tsp oil for tempering.

For the seasoning.

1/2 tsp mustard seeds.
1/2 tsp split udad dal

1/2 tsp chana dal
Pinch of turmeric powder
salt to taste.
Sprigs of curry leaves .



Cook the potatoes in a pressure cooker. When the cooker cools down ,  Peel and mash them when potatoes are still warm   to get a smooth mash. Lightly mash with ladle, but dont make them too mushy too. you need the potato pieces too.

Heat a pan  with oil,  crackle  mustard seeds, channa dal and urad dal. Once the dals turn light  brown  add chopped green chilles, grated ginger and curry leaves. Stir well . Now
Aadd the  turmeric powder and  add the mashed potatoes and salt.

Stir well and cook for few minutes making sure the potatoes get coated well with the seasoning and the green chillies.

This type of podimas need not get roasted brown and you need the yellow look on it . When cooled, drizzle lime juicy  and stir well again .

Serve hot with rice, rasam vattalkuzhambu or sambar.