- Submitted by Dahlia on 23rd Dec 2014
(Manathakkali Vatha Kuzhambu, Vatral Kulambu, VattaKolambu, மணத்தக்காளி வத்தல் குழம்பு, Sun dried vegetable curry, Sun dried Black Nightshade curry, Turkey Berry, European Black Nightshade, Solanum Nigrum)
Vatral Kuzhambu commonly known as Vatha Kulambu is originally a traditional dish made specially by Brahmins in the southern state of India (Tamilnadu and Kerala). The name vatral kuzhambu indicates the addition of vatral (sun dried vegetables) in the gravy. However another implication of the name is 'thickened curry'. 'Vatharathu' means 'condesing by long simmering'. The gravy is simmered for a long time until the tamarind juice thickens which gives the authentic taste to the curry.
Vatrals are sun dried berries or vegetables. During seasons when vegetables are available in plenty, they are dried in the sun and stored for the entire year. The most commonly dried vatrals are sundakkai, manathakkali, kathrikai (brinjal), manga (raw mango), vendakkai (ladies finger), kothavakkai and pavakkai (bittergourd). These vatrals or a combination of vatrals are used to make this curry. Traaditionally it is made by freshly grinding the spice powder known as 'Vatha Kuzhambu Podi'. These days this powder is easily available in the market. If not you can make with sambhar powder which tastes great too. Fresh vegetables are often combined with vatrals while making the curry.
Todays vatha kulambu is made with manathakkali vatral. Manathakkali is known as "Makoy" in Hindi and "Black Nightshade" in English.
The traditional Brahmin style preparation does not include any onion or garlic. I usually love to follow that style to differentiate this gravy from other similar curries like kaara kulambu and puli kulambu.
Preparation time : 10 minutes
Cooking time : 30 minutes
Serves : 4-6
- Manathakkali vathal - 3-4 tblsp
- Tamarind - gooseberry sized ball
- Sambhar Powder - 2 tbsp
- Salt - as needed
For the seasoning
- Sesame Oil - 3 tbsp
- Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
- Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
- Channa dal - 2 tsp
- Asafoetida - 1/8 tsp
- Curry leaves - few
- Soak tamarind in about 1 cup of water for about 5 minutes. Extract its pulp. Add another cup of water and extract as much as tamarind juice as possible. Discard the remaining vein of the tamarind. Keep this tamarind juice ready.
- Heat 2 tbsp oil in a kadai and add the mustard seeds. When it crackles, add the fenugreek seeds and channa dal.
- Once the dal turns golden brown, add the asafoetida, dry red chillies and curry leaves.
- Add the manathakkali vathal and fry for about half a minute.
- Add the sambar powder and fry for another half a minute.
- Now add the extracted tamarind juice and salt.
- Cook on medium flame for about 15 minutes on medium flame. Reduce the flame to low and cook for another 15 minutes.
- By now, the gravy would have thickened and oil would have separated. The gravy will thicken as it cools so maintain the gravy consistency accordingly.
- Finally add the remaining 1 tbsp oil and some fresh curry leaves. Switch off.
- Try the same curry with other vatrals or combination of vatrals.
- You can add some vegetables like bittergourd, drumstick, brinjal, garlic or pearl onions after ading the vatrals, cook it with some water and then proceed.
More Tamarind Based Curry Recipes