Tamil Nadu is famous for the Paruppu Urundai Kulambu, which is steamed dhal balls cooked in a savoury curry. My mother had a recipe using Bengal gram dhal for the balls, but the curry she had suggested was very vague. When I prepared her recipe at home, it was not popular and we also had attacks of flatulence. In my eternal search for recipes, I found many using either red gram dhal or a combination of the two dhals. I chose to use only red gram dhal because it is the least digestively offensive. The curry that I have used is a combination of ideas taken from several recipes.
This curry has a typical South Indian flavour and therefore goes well with typical South Indian dishes like idli, dosai, plain rice, or with a variety of South Indian rice dishes such as pulav and mixed rices (lime rice and tamarind rice).
The red gram dhal in the curry gives 22 g of protein per 100 g of dhal used. This is a high protein and moderate energy vegetarian dish, and can become high energy as well depending on the food it is combined with.
For the Urundai (Balls)
- 1 C Red Gram Dhal
- 2 T Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 tsp Sombu (Aniseed) Powder
- ½ C Sambar Onion (Shallots), diced
- 2 sprigs Curry Leaves, diced
- 6 Garlic Cloves, diced
- ¼ C Coconut scrapings
- 1 tsp Salt, or to taste
For the Kulambu (Curry)
- 1 large Onion, diced
- 2 Tomatoes, pulsed for 10 seconds
- 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
- 1 T Kashmiri Chilli Powder
- 1 T Coriander Powder
- ½ tsp Cumin Powder
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- ½ tsp Mustard
- 1 small lime sized ball of Tamarind (juice extracted)
- 3 T Vegetable Oil
- 2 tsp Salt, or to taste
- 2 C Water
- Grind together
- ½ C Coconut scrapings
- 8-10 Sambar Onions (Shallots)
To prepare the Urundai (Balls)
- Soak the red gram dhal for 2 hours. Drain.
- Grind in a mixie or a blender along with turmeric, chilli, and sombu powders and salt, to a coarse paste.
- Mix with the dhal paste, diced onion, garlic and curry leaves, and coconut scrapings. Adjust salt.
- Divide the dhal paste into lime sized balls.
- Steam in an idli steamer for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
To prepare the Kulambu (Curry)
- Heat the oil in a heavy based saucepan.
- Add the mustard. When it crackles, add the onion and fry.
- Add the tomatoes after the onion has become translucent. Fry the mixture till the oil separates.
- Add the chilli, turmeric, coriander, and cumin powders and blend. Add a little water to prevent scorching.
- Add the tamarind juice and 1 cup of water, salt, and the ground coconut, and stir.
- Bring to boil. Add the steamed balls.
- Boil gently without stirring till the balls begin to float.
- Add the curry leaves and remove.
- The paruppu urundais should be steamed only for 10 minutes. Steam any longer and they will become hard.
- If you don’t have an idli steamer, use any other steamer available. Take care that the balls do not touch the water or they will disintegrate.
- To prepare the tamarind extract, soak the tamarind in 1 cup of hot water for half an hour. Squeeze the soaked pulp and send the extract through a strainer. Add water again to the pulp and extract more juice. If you are using commercially available tamarind extract, use 2-3 teaspoons to suit your taste.
- I use Kashmiri Chilli powder for its mild flavour and punchy colour.