Sunday, 31 January 2016

Manathakkali VathaKuzhambu ! (No Onion No Garlic)

Vathakuzhambu or Vatral Kuzhambu is a tangy stew from the state of Tamilnadu. It uses dried veggies like turkeyberry (sundaikai) or Sunberry (Manathakkali) or sometimes without any of them and just called vendaya kuzhambu. 
It doesnt need any exotic ingredients and very simple and quick. The best part is it has more shelf life and can be stored in fridge for 2 - 3 days. 
Today I made this with Manathakkali (in Tamil) aka Sun berry. It also has names like black night shade or wonder berry. In most of the grocery stores in Tamilnadu you can get this in dried form. At home we used to have these plants , and mom makes yummy Keerai Kuzhambu with the leaves of this plant. 
I have already posted a similar recipe, Sundaikai Vatha Kuzhambu which had onions and garlic in it. But this recipe today is made without onion or garlic like how its made in most of the Brahmin households of Tamilnadu.
Best served with rice and I pair it with curd rice too :)


  • 1/3 dried Sun berry (Manathakali Vathal)
  • 3 - 4 tbsp Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Urad Dal
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
  • a pinch of Asafoedita
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves
  • 2 - 3 tsp Sambar Powder (or Kuzhambu powder)
  • 1/2 tsp Red Chilli powder
  • salt as needed 
  • Tamarind (lemon size)
  • 1 tsp Jaggery

  • Heat oil in a pan, and add the vathal (dried turkey berry) to it. Fry for few seconds until they puff up slightly.
  • Remove from pan and keep aside until needed.

  • Soak tamarind in water for 10 minutes (or microwave 30 seconds). Squeeze out the thick tamarind extract and keep ready.
  • In a pan heat oil, and splutter the mustard seeds and then add the urad dal followed by fenugreek seeds.
  • Allow the urad dal to brown nicely.

  • Keep the flame in low, add curry leaves, chilli powder, sambar powder or (homemade) chilli powder or Kuzhambu powder and fry for few seconds.

  • Without burning the spice powders, quickly add the tamarind extract and half a cup of water or more depending on the consistency of the tamarind extract.
  • Add salt( note: dried sunberry has salt already) and turmeric powder and allow the kuzhambu to come to a boil.
  • Now add in the fried vathal (sun berry) to the boiling kuzhambu , close and cook for 3 to 5 minutes

  • The kuzhambu will be thickened nicely , add jaggery and asafoedita at this point.
  • Allow the jaggery to melt and get incorporated with the kuzhambu.
  • In medium flame cook the kuzhambu for another 2 - 3 minutes and by this time oil will start separating on sides and reached the thickness we are looking for.
  • Vathakuzhambu needs a bit more oil so that it stays good even for 2  - 3 days.
  • Use gingelly oil (nallennai) for best results.
  • Do not skip asafoedita and curry leaves  as they accentuate the flavors.
  • You can do this with any type of vatral like sundaikai vathal or even without any vathal and called Vendaya Kuzhambu.
  • Sambar powder gives nice flavor, you can also use homemade chilli powder (or  store bought kuzhambu milagai thool). It works well too.
  • Do not skip the jaggery, trust me it doesn't make the whole dish sweet but nicely balances the flavors.
  • All dried veggies (vatral / vathal) has salt in it. So keep in mind when adding salt for the kuzhambu.
  • Adjust tanginess (tamarind) and spiciness as per your taste.
  • Serve with rice and papad. Best combo.

With Love,


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