Vatha Kuzhambu

Vatha Kuzhambu is a traditional South Indian dish that originates from the Tamil Nadu region. This tangy and spicy tamarind-based gravy is known for its unique blend of flavors and aromatic spices. It is typically prepared with sun-dried vegetables, such as turkey berry (sundakkai), manathakkali (black nightshade), or even dried okra. The dish is often served as a main course with steamed rice and accompanied by side dishes like appalam, vadams, or thogayal.

Vatha Kuzhambu

Vatha Kuzhambu

Recipe by S Kamala
0.0 from 0 votes
Course: KuzhambuCuisine: Indian, TamilDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time



This tangy gravy is made with onion, garlic, tamarind and vathal. It is served with rice and also is a best side dish for curd rice.


  • Tamarind – lemon size

  • Vathal (Manathakkali Vathal or Sundakkai vathal) – 1 tablespoon

  • Sambar onion (shallot) – 10 to 15 Nos

  • Garlic flakes – 10 – 15 Nos

  • Tomato – 1 No

  • Sambar powder – 1 tablespoon (heaped)

  • Turmeric powder – ¼ teaspoon

  • Salt – 1 teaspoon or as per taste

  • Gingelly oil – 4 to 5 tablespoons

  • Mustard – ½ teaspoon

  • Fenugreek seeds – ½ teaspoon

  • Asafoetida Powder- 1/4 teaspoon

  • Red Chilli – 1

  • Curry leaves – few

  • Jaggery – a small piece (optional)


  • Soak tamarind in water and squeeze out the juice completely by adding water little by little. The tamarind juice should be at least 2 cups.
  • Cut the tomato into medium size pieces and grind it to a puree.
  • In a kadai add two tablespoons oil and when it is hot add mustard.
  • When it pops up add fenugreek and asafoetida. Keep the flame to very low. (Otherwise fenugreek will become black and taste very bitter). Fry the fenugreek till it become light golden brown.
  • Add red chilli and curry leaves.
  • Add onions and garlic flakes. Fry for a while.
  • Add sambar powder, turmeric powder and fry for few seconds.
  • Now add tamarind juice and salt. Stir well. Close with lid and allow to boil on medium flame until the oil floats on top and the kuzhambu become thick.
  • If you like, add a small piece of jaggery now.
  • In a tadka pan put two teaspoons of oil and when it is hot add the Vathal and fry till it is crisp.
  • Add this fried vathal to the boiling kuzhambu and mix well.
  • Switch off the stove. Add one or two teaspoons of oil on top of the kuzhambu.

Recipe Video


  • I used Manathakkali Vathal in this Kuzhambu. Sundakkai Vathal or mix of both Manathakkali and sundakkai vathal can also be used.
  • The vathal can be added at the beginning along with the mustard and other seasoning also.
  • Use only Gingelly oil to get the authentic taste.


  1. How the gravy will be thick without adding tomatoes or coconut? I made your milagu kuzhambu recipe and it turned out to be very watery. Give some tips to make it thick.

    • Hi Priscilla,

      For Milagu Kuzhambu or vathal kuzhambu, you have to make thick tamarind juice. When you add seasoning and other ingredients and allow to boil the tamarind water, it will automatically become thick. Still if you feel the kuzhambu is watery, just mix a teaspoon of rice flour with little water and add it to the kuzhambu. Then the kuzhambu become thick.

    • maya Iyer

      this is a watery dish. if you want to make it strong, you may cook udad dal and add.

  2. How to prepare sambar powder

  3. finaly u will add 1/2 teaspoon of black sesame powder (Karuppu Yallu) the taste will come more

  4. Hello Kamala, Awesome recipes as always. I am a regular visitor to ur website. With this recipe here when do we add the vatha kuzhambu powder? Tx and please do add more gravies and south Indian style biriyani

  5. Sambar powder is added to this kuzhambu. No vatha kuzhambu powder.

  6. Pingback: Suraikai (Bottle Gourd) Paal Kootu - Kamala's Corner

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