Recipes R Simple

Kara Kuzhambu – Spicy Tangy South Indian Gravy with Vegetables


kara kuzhambu

Kara Kuzhambu – Spicy Tangy South Indian Gravy with Vegetables

Kara Kuzhambu  (Kulambu) is a spicy thick gravy similar to Sambar. Unlike sambar, it usually contains 1-2 vegetables and not more. The combination of vegetables are varied. Tamarind is soaked ahead of time to get the sour juice extraction. This is combined with jaggery to provide a sweet and sour gravy. Sambar Powder or home made masala powder is added to make it nice and spicy. I like  Kara Kuzhambu with eggplant, potato or shallots. In the picture drumsticks are used but I find the drumsticks can sometimes turn too sour if left for a while. This is a very simple and versatile Kara Kuuzhambu recipe and provides a quick fix when you need something extra with rice, idli etc.

What is your favorite combination?

kara kuzhambu recipe

Kara Kuzhambu – Spicy Tangy South Indian Gravy with Vegetables

Recipe Type: Vegetarian / South Indian
Author: Recipes ‘R’ Simple
Prep time: 10
Cook time: 20
Total time: 
Serves: 4


  • 4-5 smal eggplants (brinjal), cut into 2 or 3 pieces
  • 1- 2 potatoes cut into large cubes OR 1 drumstick scraped and cut into  3 ” length pieces. (You can use your  favorite combo of vegetables)
  • 1 small piece of tamarind ( about a tsp) soaked in 1½ cups of hot water ahead of time
  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely
  • 1 medium tomato chopped finely
  • 2- 3 tsp sambar powder
  • 1 piece of fresh asafetida, crushed to a powder
  • 1- 2 tsp powdered jaggery or jaggery solution
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¹⁄8 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-2 dried chillies
  • a small handful of curry leaves
  • 5 small cloves of garlic  (2 tsp, sliced)
  • 2 tsp of sesame oil ( gingelly)
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 3 tsp coconut cream
  • salt to taste


  • Keep the chopped vegetables in a bowl of water, to prevent any discoloration.
  • Heat the oil in a medium sized wok. Add the mustard seeds and allow to splutter. Next : add the fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, dried chillies, curry leaves and asafetida. Fry briefly till nice and aromatic without any burning.
  • Add the garlic. Stir a few seconds.
  • Add and sauté the onions till nicely softened.
  • Next add the tomato and chopped vegetables.
  • Fry on high till the tomatoes are softened and the vegetables are slightly crisped or golden on the outside.
  • Squeeze the tamarind in the water solution and strain out the pulp. Discard it. You are left with a dark sour solution. Add this along with some water as needed. Bring to a simmer.
  • Add the sambar powder. Simmer. Taste and add more asafetida powder if needed. Add salt.
  • Allow the gravy to simmer well till the vegetables are cooked and the gravy  has thickened. (Add water if you need to cook the vegetables)
  • Lastly, add the powdered jaggery or jaggery solution and coconut cream.
  • Stir till well mixed and remove from heat.
  • Pour the sesame /gingelly oil over the top.

Kara Kuzhambu – Spicy Tangy South Indian Gravy with Vegetables

Try it and let us know – Kara Kuzhambu – Spicy Tangy South Indian Gravy with Vegetables .

  • If you like the gravy tangier, use more tamarind. I prefer a mild tanginess. The trick is is to balance the tang,sweet and spiciness levels just right so add a little more of this or that to you own tastes.
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