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Spicy Chettinad Poondu Kuzhambu

  • Author: Kannamma - Suguna Vinodh
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 mins
  • Yield: 6


South Indian style Tamilnadu Spicy Chettinad Poondu Kuzhambu recipe with step by step pictures.



For the Masala

  • 2 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 4 methi seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoon black pepper corns
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 very ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoon kuzhambu milagai thool (or sambar powder)
  • 1/4 cup fresh shredded coconut

Other Ingredients

  • 1 lime size tamarind
  • 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 whole pods peeled garlic
  • 3 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 12 tablespoon jaggery


  1. Heat oil in a pan and add in the sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add in 3-4 methi-fenugreek seeds. Add in the cumin and the black pepper too. Let it splutter. The oil will foam a little. That’s fine. Add in 10 cloves of garlic and saute briefly.
  2. Add in one sprig of curry leaves and roughly chopped onions. Saute for 2-3 minutes until the onions turn soft. Add in the tomatoes and fry for a minute.
  3. When the tomatoes are briefly sauteed, add in the kuzhambu milagai thool / kuzhambu masala powder. Add in the fresh shredded coconut and remove off heat.
  4. Grind the masala to a very smooth paste. Add a cup and a half of water while grinding. Set aside.
  5. Soak a big lime size tamarind in 2 cups of hot water for 15 minutes. Crush between your fingers and make a pulp. Strain the liquid and set aside.
  6. Heat oil in a kadai and add in the mustard seeds and urad dal. Let it splutter. Add in two whole pods of peeled garlic. Fry for a minute.
  7. Add in a lot of curry leaves. About 3 sprigs. Curry leaves are an important flavor component. So do not skip. Add in the onions too and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Add in the tamarind pulp/juice, salt, asafoetida, turmeric and coriander powder.
  9. Add in the ground masala. Stir well and let it simmer covered with a lid on a very low flame for 30-40 minutes. Stir once in 10 minutes so it does not scorch at the bottom.
  10. Add in the jaggery. This is the SECRET to a good poondu kuzhambu. It wont be sweet. It just brings all the flavors alive.
  11. Let it simmer for 5 minutes more. Remove off heat and serve with rice or idli. It tastes awesome with idli and dosa. It tastes double awesome the next day.


If you cannot source kuzhambu milagai thool, you can substitute sambar powder.

  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 60 mins
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Cuisine: South Indian