Appalam Vatha Kuzhambu/Papad in Spicy Tamarind gravy

Tamilians need no introduction to Vatha Kuzhambu/Kulambu and for others who are wondering as to what is this..let me tell you,its a spicy ,tangy tamarind gravy with home ground spices which is boiled and reduced to a slightly thicker consistency in comparison to sambar.
Veggies like bhindi/okra /lady's finger ,pumpkin,drumstick ,onions can also be used in the preparation.
This new version of using Papads/Appalam in the vatha kuzhambu ,I tasted after my marriage when my MIL had prepared  and she taught me. I am a huge fan of vatha kuzhambu,so goes without saying I liked this form of vatha kuzhambu too. :-)

Preparation Time : 10 mins
Cooking Time : 30-40 mins
Serves : 3-4



1 cup tamarind juice
1 1/2 tbsp sambar powder - Recipe
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp dhania  / corriander powder
2-3 dry red chillies
1 tsp toor dhall / thuvaram paruppu/split yellow pigeon peas
1 tsp channa dhall/kadalai paruppu/bengal gram dhall
1/2 tsp mustard seeds/kadugu
few no curry leaves
pinch of turmeric
pinch of asafoetida
2-3 appalams /papad (south indian appalam - i used the MTR brand of appalams)
2-3 tbsp cooking oil ( gingelly oil if u like the taste)


  • In a kadai /wok,heat the oil,splutter the mustard seeds.
  • Slowly,add the red chillies,toor dhall,channa dhall,curry leaves,asafoetida and turmeric.Saute lightly.
  • Add the sambar powder,chilli powder,dhania powder and saute well until you get a nice aroma.Ensure you don't burn the spice powder while sauteing.
  • Slowly add the tamarind water,1/2 cup water,required amount of salt and boil well.
  • Let it boil until the mixture is reduced to 3/4.Adjust salt accordingly.
  • Break the papads into halves and fry them or microwave each papad for about 20 sec.
  • I prefer the latter rather than frying,as it reduces the addition of oil content in the kuzhambu.
  • Do not Roast the papad over direct flame,they tend to turn black and the taste is lost.
  • Add these papads into the gravy ,garnish with corriander and wait for about 10 mins before serving.
  • Serve hot with rice and ghee.
  • To make Vendakai/Lady's finger ,saute the lady's finger after you splutter the mustard seeds and then follow the remaining steps.
  • To make vetha kuzhambu using pumpkin or drumstick,add the veggies along with the tamarind water.They get cooked along.
  • If you find the tangy taste of tamarind on the higher side,add a teaspoon of grated jaggery.
  • Do not add too much salt initially,as the tamarind extract  reduces on boiling,saltiness tends to increase.adjust accordingly.


  1. I was thinking a lot regarding this topic, so thanks for bringing it up here. You certainly have a good writing style i like, so will be subscribing to your blog.

  2. Ummmmm... Mysore adige Indha Tamil adige Eega ... Looks good. :))

  3. nice dish and very attractive. Visit Us here for appalam manufacturers


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