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Kuzhambu made with lentil balls in a steel bowl
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4.8 from 15 votes

Chettinad Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu | Spicy Stew with Lentil Balls

A spicy and tangy Vegan stew simmered with delicious lentil balls. A very famous Tamil Nadu recipe that is perfect with rice.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian
Diet: Vegetarian
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 288kcal


  • For the Paruppu Urundai / Lentil Balls
  • ¾ cup Tuvaram Paruppu / Toor Dal
  • 2 tablespoon Kadalai Paruppu / Chana Dal
  • 8 Small Onion chopped finely
  • 2 Green chilies chopped finely
  • 2 cloves Garlic chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon Red chili powder
  • ¼ cup Grated coconut
  • ½ teaspoon Kasa kasa / poppy seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon Fennel Powder / sombu podi
  • ½ inch Cinnamon
  • to taste Salt
  • For the Kuzhambu -
  • lemon size ball Tamarind
  • 10 Small Onion sliced thinly
  • 1 Tomato chopped
  • 5 cloves Garlic chopped finely
  • few Curry leaves
  • 3 teaspoon Chili powder I used Kashmir chili powder which is not too spicy
  • 2 teaspoon Coriander powder / Dhania powder
  • ½ teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Methi seeds / vendhayam
  • ¼ cup Grated Coconut
  • ½ teaspoon Fennel seeds / sombu
  • to taste Salt
  • 4 tablespoon Gingelly oil / Nallennai


  • 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 teaspoon of chili powder and ¼ teaspoon 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.
  • Grind ¼ cup of grated coconut and ½ teaspoon 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 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!


  • 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. 


Calories: 288kcal | Carbohydrates: 34g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 109mg | Potassium: 391mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 704IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 70mg | Iron: 3mg