Friday, June 19, 2015

Masala Vadai Kuzhambu | Curried patties in a Spicy Tamarind Gravy | Stepwise pictures

Hi Supermoms,

Mudaliar cuisine of South India has a unique combination of spices and style of cooking. The use of Vadagam is commonly found in this cuisine. A mixture of onion, garlic and spices are prepared, dried and stored for upto a year. It lends an amazing taste to their dishes . In this speciality dish,  Vadai /Curried Lentil Patties are added to a tangy and spicy tamarind gravy. 'Masala Vadai kuzhambu' is absolutely delicious and is a perfect show stopper dish on your weekend lunch menu . Simply awesome in taste, this spicy Kuzhambu tastes best with hot rice and ghee. 

If you have not planned your weekend menu, just give this dish a try !!!! Worth all the effort!



Recipe adapted from 'Simply South'by Chandra Padmanabhan


Masala Vadai Kuzhambu:

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves :4
Special Vessel/Equipment: Kadai/Wok, Ladle, Mixer
1 Cup = 200 ml Cup



1 cup Husked bengal gram/ Channa dal
2 Onions (finely chopped)
4 Green Chillies
1" piece Ginger
Salt to taste
Oil for frying 

1& 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste or 1 small lime sized ball of tamarind
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 teaspoon coriander powder 
2 teaspoon red chilli powder
15 shallots
6 finely chopped Garlic pods
2 sprigs curry leaves 
1 medium sized and finely chopped tomato
Salt to taste

3 tablespoon Sesame oil 
1 tablespoon Vadagam OR  (1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon Husked black gram ( urad dal), 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds , 1/2 teaspoon  Fennel seeds )


1/4 cup Freshly grated coconut
2 teaspoon powdered Poppy seeds/ khus khus 
2 to 3 tablespoons water


To make the Masala Vadai:

1. Wash Dal and soak in water for 2 hours and drain. Add Chillies, ginger and grind to a coarse paste using very less water (3 to 4 tbsp)

CHEF TIP : Instead of grinding the green chillies, you can finely chop them and add it to the vadai batter. 


2.Add onions, curryleaves , salt and mix well.



4. Heat oil in a deep frying pan to smoking point.
5.Wet your hands.

6.Take a small ball of batter and flatten it into a 1" round patty using your finger.



7. Slip it gently into hot oil. Fry vadai in batches over moderate heat turning frequently till the Vadai is golden and crisp. 


8. Drain them on a kitchen towel.


1.Heat oil for tempering in a pan over moderate heat.Add Vadagam/tempering ingredients and fry for 30 seconds.


2. When the Vadagam or mustard seeds splutter, add Shallots,garlic and curry leaves.


3.Fry for 3 -4 minutes,stirring continuously. Blend in the tomatoes add salt,coriander powder,chilli powder and fry for 1-2 minutes.


4. When tomatoes become mushy add tamarind pulp/ juice . If you are adding pulp, then add 2 cup of water. 

Alternately,you can soak the ball of tamarind in 2 cup of warm water for 10 minutes. Extract juice and use it for the kulambu.


5.Mix well and simmer over low flame for 15 to 18 minutes,stirring occassionally.  Gently mix in coconut paste and simmer over low heat for 3 to 4 minutes,till well blended.


6. It's time to add the Vadai one by one and simmer for just 2 minutes. switch off.


Your 'Masala Vadai Kuzhambu' is ready to be served to your family or friends! A Superb Sunday Special dish !!!!! 

Serve hot with rice and ghee.



1.Vadagam is a tempering ingredient and will be available in grocery store selling South Indian food items. 

2. You can make  smaller patties of vadai so that each of the guest/ family will get more pieces of the Vadai.

3. Instead of Shallots you can use Onions. 


With love,




  1. Lovely curry, just one question. Can we steam the chana dal dumplings instead of deep frying.

  2. Thanks Shilpi. Yes, you can steam the dumpling. But before you steam, just cook them in a pan for few minutes with a tsp of oil. This will help absorb the excess water and the dumplings taste better too. I will be posting a recipe of steamed dumplings in a different gravy shortly with detailed pictures.


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