Taste the perfect blend of tangy and spicy in this delicious Chettinad Style Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu. Pairs perfect well with rice.
For the third day of BM, I have a beautiful Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu from the Chettinad region. I am big fan of Chettinadu cuisine and absolutely love the spicy and flavorful ingredients that they use. Even though Chettinad cuisine comprises a lot of meat based dishes, there are quite a few recipes that we can adapt to vegetarian lifestyle.
Couple of week back we went to dinner at our friend’s house. She had made this delicious Chettinad Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu. I ate the kuzhambu with almost everything. I had asked her immediately for recipe and she messaged me the you tube link that she followed. After going through the recipe, I had couple of doubts and my friend Gayathri clarified it for me.
This is an extensive recipe and definitely something to make on the weekends or days when we have some time in hand. The ingredients list is also pretty long, but they are quite common ingredients that would be available in our pantry.
Prepping a little ahead to make this kuzhambu will help to make it quicker. Like for example, peel the small onions and keep it ready. Likewise peel the garlic and have it ready. I realized that these 2 processes is what took more time in the whole cooking process.
Specific ingredients to use for flavor –
There are two specific ingredients that I would highly suggest using for the best taste. One is small onions or shallots also known as Sambhar onions. This definitely adds a lot of flavor to the kuzhambu. The other ingredient is fresh garlic. So not use garlic paste as it does not taste as good as the fresh ones.
How to easily peel the small onions / Sambhar onion –
This is a really quick and the easiest way to peel the small onions. I buy a large bag and peel them and either freeze it or store it in the refrigerator (if using within a week). Trim the edges of the onion using a sharp knife. Now soak the trimmed onions in a bowl of hot water and let it sit for about 15 to 20 minutes. Now the skin will easily peel right off the onions. Try this and there will be no more tears.
How Spicy is this Kuzhambu –
This Chettinad Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu is supposed to be quite spicy as it is almost the same as Kara Kuzhambu. I have made it medium spicy as per my family’s taste, but feel free to increase the heat. I use Kashmiri Red Chili Powder and that gives the kuzhambu a nice color without making it too spicy.
Lentil Balls / Paruppu Urundai –
I have used mostly toor dal / tuvaram paruppu and a little bit of chana dal / kadalai paruppu for making my urundai. You can skip the chana dal if you want to. There are few recipes where they steam the balls before adding it to the kuzhabu. I have added it directly to the boiling kuzhambu and it cooked right inside it. This was the tip that my friend Gayathri clarified and it worked great.
Preparation time – 20 minutes plus about an hour to soak the lentils
Cooking time – About 45 minutes
Difficulty level – Intermediate
Ingredients to make Chettinad Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu – Serves 4
For the Paruppu Urundai / Lentil Balls –
- Tuvaram Paruppu / Toor Dal – 3/4 cup
- Kadalai Paruppu / Chana Dal – 2 TBSP
- Small Onion – 8 (chopped finely)
- Green chilies – 2 (chopped finely)
- Garlic – 2 cloves (chopped finely)
- Red chili powder – 1 tsp
- Grated coconut – 1/4 cup
- Kasa kasa / poppy seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Fennel Powder / sombu podi – 1/4 tsp
- Cinnamon – a small piece (about 1/4 inch piece)
- Salt – to taste
For the Kuzhambu –
- Tamarind – A lemon sized ball
- Small Onion – 10 (sliced thinly)
- Tomato – 1 (chopped)
- Garlic – 5 cloves (chopped finely)
- Curry leaves – few
- Chili powder – 3 tsp (I used Kashmir chili powder which is not too spicy)
- Coriander powder / Dhania powder – 2 tsp
- Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Methi seeds / vendhayam – 1 tsp
- Grated Coconut – 1/4 cup
- Fennel seeds / sombu – 1/2 tsp
- Salt – to taste
- Gingelly oil / Nallennai – 4 TBSP
Procedure to make Chettinad Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu –
How to make the Paruppu Urundai –
- Wash the lentils and soak them together for about an hour.
- In the meantime, prepare the rest of ingredients like peeling and chopping the onions and garlic.
- Once the lentils are soaked and ready, drain it and then grind into a thick paste adding just salt. Do not grind it too smooth. Leave it a little coarse. Transfer the ground lentil paste in a bowl.
- In a small pan, dry roast the cinnamon and poppy seed until it is aromatic. Make a fine powder, using a mortar and pestle.
- Add this to the bowl along with the ground lentil.
- In the same pan, roast the coconut until it turns light brown. Add this to the bowl as well.
- Also roast the finely chopped onion, garlic and green chilies and add it to the bowl along with other ingredients.
- Add 1 tsp of chili powder and 1/4 tsp of fennel powder to the rest of the ingredients and mix well using your hands.
- Make small balls out of this mixture and keep them aside.
How to make Kuzhambu –
- Soak the tamarind in about a cup of hot water and then squeeze the juice. Add one more cup of water and squeeze it out as well.
- Prepare the rest of the ingredients and keep it ready.
- Grind 1/4 cup of grated coconut and 1/2 tsp of fennel seeds into a paste and keep it aside.
- Use a slightly wider pan to make this kuzhambu as it helps in allowing the lentils balls / paruppu urundai to cook well.
- Heat the gingelly oil. This kuzhambu needs quite a bit of oil for flavor. You could reduce the oil if needed but the kuzhambu tastes better with more oil.
- Add the mustard seeds and methi seeds (vendhayam) and let it fry for about 10 seconds.
- Now add the thinly slice onions, garlic and curry leaves and fry them until the onions are lightly brown.
- Add the tomatoes and saute until the tomatoes are slightly soft.
- Now add the red chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder and salt. Let it fry for about 10 seconds.
- Add the tamarind juice and mix well. Also add the ground coconut and fennel mixture. Mix well and let the kuzhambu come to a boil.
- Simmer the flame and let the kuzhambu boil until the oil starts floating on top. If the kuzhambu has thickened when boiling, add about a cup more of water and let it boil. We want the kuzhambu to be slightly on the thinner side as it will thicken when the paruppu urundai is added to it.
Finishing the Chettinad Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu –
- Once the kuzhambu has boiled well (takes about 15 to 20 minutes), slowly add the paruppu urundai that we had prepared earlier into the kuzhambu. Make sure you add the balls one by one and also add them separately in the pan without crowding.
- Once you have added all the balls, gently shake the pan to make sure that all the balls are evened out and has enough space for cooking.
- Keep the flame on low and cover the pan with a lid. This will help in cooking the lentil balls. Also shake the pan every 2 to 3 minutes to make sure that the balls don’t stick to the bottom of pan. DO NOT USE A LADLE TO STIR THE KUZHAMBU. The lentil balls are delicate and will break apart if we stir using a ladle.
- Cook the kuzhambu for about 10 to 12 minutes, shaking the pan every 2-3 minutes.
- Serve hot with rice!
Notes and Observation –
- This kuzhambu is a slightly lengthier process and prior planning helps.
- Get the small onions and garlic peeled and chopped. This saves a lot of time.
- I started making the kuzhambu and when that was boiling, I prepared the soaked lentil for the urundai. This way I was able to save some time.
- Make the kuzhambu a little bit on the runny side as it will thicken once the paruppu urundai is added.
In the meantime, prepare the rest of ingredients like peeling and chopping the onions and garlic.
Add the mustard seeds and methi seeds (vendhayam) and let it fry for about 10 seconds.
Get the small onions and garlic peeled and chopped. This saves a lot of time.