|Place of origin||Tamil Nadu, India|
|Region or state||Sri Lanka and South India|
|Main ingredients||tamarind, vegetables|
Kuzhambu is a watery dish based on a broth made with tamarind, a blend of spices that include ground coriander seeds, fenugreek, and toor dal, and can include fresh or dried vegetables, blended fresh coconut, or dried lentil balls (vadagam, Tamil: வடகம்). It can be made watery like a broth or thick like a gravy. The dish is very popular as a side for rice in the northern regions of Sri Lanka and the southern regions of India especially in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. In Andhra Pradesh, kuzhambu is called pulusu. The number of varieties of kuzhambu are countless, with each state in the South India preparing it with a typical variation, adapted to its taste and environment.
It is a common misconception that lentils (dal) is a staple ingredient in kuzhambu. There are varieties of kuzhambu, such as paruppu (Tamil: பருப்பு, meaning dal) kuzhambu and pattani kuzhambu that contain lentils, but the vast majority do not use dal beyond the small quantity used as a spice or during tempering.
The preparation of kuzhambu vary greatly with the type of kuzhambu to be made, but its basic preparation methods include first tempering curry leaves, whole black mustard seeds, whole cumin seeds, dry red chili pepper, and often split urad dal over vegetable oil on a heated stove. For kuzhambu that includes vegetables, they are cut and then added to the fry, with shallots, and garlic being added first, and pureed or diced tomatoes going last. Salt and ground spices are added next (which are often pre-prepared), and finally tamarind juice (tamarind soaked in water), or tamarind concentrate and water. The dish is then cooked for approximately 20 minutes and usually served with rice.
The following is a small list of the hundreds of varieties of kuzhambu popular in Tamil cuisine. These types of kuzhambu all include a base of tamarind, urad and toor dals, and spices such as curry leaves, chili, and salt. Many of these varieties also include tomatoes or tomato juice as part of the base.
|Vathal Kuzhambu||turkey berry, shallots|
|Milagu Kuzhambu||black pepper|
|Kara Kuzhambu||onion, green chili, tomatoes|
|Mor Kuzhambu||thick buttermilk, channa dal, ash gourd, okra, pumpkin|
|Poricha Kuzhambu||mixed vegetables, black pepper, ample amounts of dal|
|Thakkali Kuzhambu||more than usual proportions of Tomato puree|