Poondu Kulambu

Those of you who have been reading my blog for sometime now would know how much I heart South Indian food, Tamil food in particular. This one is my all time favorite. Since dad was more of a Sambar fan, mum rarely used to prepare this, mostly when dad was out of station. On those days, I would savor this kulambu by having it for lunch and dinner. By chance if there is extra left I would even save it for the following day!
Since it includes tamarind, an excellent preservative, it lasts quite long (say a week) if stored in the refrigerator and tastes just as good as it did the day you prepared it. Also, it tastes great with the simplest side dishes. I love having this kulambu with cabbage poriyal, appalam/vathal or omelette. 
I learnt this recipe from my MIL who is an expert in puzhi kulambu and fish kulambu!


  • 1 lemon sized tamarind soaked in water for min. 30 mins
  • 1/2 cup garlic cloves
  • 1 cup shallots quartered
  • 2 tomatoes cut in cubes
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 3 tbsp gingelly oil
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1/2 tbsp chilly powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2.5 cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • In a vok, heat oil. Temper fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and dried red chillies.
  • Add chopped shallots and garlic cloves. Saute until it turns slightly brown and reduces to half of what it was at first.
  • Now add the chopped tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Cover the vok with a lid and allow it to cook on low flame. When the tomatoes are half cooked add the curry leaves. Cover it again and cook it for a few more minutes until the tomatoes are completely cooked and the oil surfaces.
  • Add the chilly, turmeric and coriander powder. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  • Squeeze the tamarind well and strain the tamarind juice onto the onion tomato mixture. Add the 2.5 cups of water.
  • Allow it to boil. When it reduces into a thick liquid, add salt and turn off stove.
  • Serve hot with rice and a side dish of your choice.
Note – You can try the same with either brinjals, ladies fingers or thatta payir/cowpea beans (soaked and steamed). The first two should be added along with the shallots (step 2) while thatta payir can be added soon after the tomatoes are cooked. This kulambu can also be converted into a very tasty fish kulambu. All you got to do is add pieces of sliced fish once you add the water (step 5), add 1/2 tbsp pepper powder, cover the vok with a lid and allow the pieces to cook on a low flame!

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