I love the South-Indian thali served at the restaurants from Tamil Nadu, and I must admit that this tangy/spicy curry served in a small bowl is the key reason for that. Kara Kuzhambu (simple translation is spicy curry) is all about the burst of flavours it offers. The gravy is made of freshly ground spices and coconut; perfectly paired with a bowl of steamed rice. You can use vegetables of your choice, here I have gone with Drumsticks (Moringa) and Okra.

You need –

  • Drumstick – 1, cut into 3’ inch pieces
  • Okra – 5-6, chopped into 1.5 inch pieces
  • Onion – 1 medium sized, sliced
  • Tomato – 1 small sized, finely chopped
  • Garlic cloves – 2-3, finely chopped
  • Tamarind – walnut size, soaked in ½ cup hot water
  • Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves – 1 twig
  • Jaggery – ½ teaspoon
  • sesame oil or cooking oil – 2 teaspoons or as required
  • Salt to taste

To grind

  • Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Fennel seeds – ¾ teaspoon
  • Dried chili – 2 or to taste
  • Whole black pepper – ½ teaspoon
  • Sambar powder – 3 teaspoons
  • Freshly grated coconut – ¼ cup

How to –

Extract the juice from the soaked tamarind and set aside.

Heat a pan add about 1 teaspoon of oil and add all the ingredients under “to grind” except the coconut and sambar powder and fry till fragrant stirring constantly. Add the coconut and fry till light golden. Add the sambar powder, mix well and turn the heat off. Once cooled, blend the mixture to fine paste adding little water.

Heat a kadai or heavy bottom pan, add the remaining 2 teaspoons of oil or as required. When the oil is heated through add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and allow to splatter. Add the chopped onions and garlic and sauté till translucent. Add the chopped tomato and cook till mushy.

Add the tamarind juice, Veggies, coconut paste, salt to taste and enough water. Boil the curry until the veggies are cooked through and curry is thick. Finally add the jaggery and turn the heat off. Serve hot with rice.


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