Sivappu Kulambu (The Red Curry)

The Sivappu Kulambu is known for its beautiful red and enchantingly transparent gravy. Despite its deep red colour it can be made mildly flavoured based on the chilli powder used. I have used Kashmiri Chilli Powder which gives it a very subtle touch on your tongue. It goes amazingly well with chappatis and parattas.


Sivappu Kulambu (The Red Curry)

My father’s sister Cynthia created this recipe to prepare a dish which was easy and quick. She had 3 boys with hearty appetites and her cooking required both taste and volume. I first tasted this in the summer of 1961 when 9 of us cousins, ranging from 4 to 25, were invited to spend the day at her home. She preferred to do all the cooking herself. We asked if we could help. She said we could roll out the parattas, and once done she chased us out of the house – told us to go for a walk until lunchtime. When we returned to the house we were greeted with a bewitching aroma, and the sight of this gloriously coloured curry next to stacks of parattas. It was a big hit with us, and I prepare it for my family frequently as it continues to cast its spell 55 years later. If it wasn’t for its fiery red colour I would call it an evergreen dish 🙂

My aunt’s original recipe was very spicy. I have modified it with Kashmiri Chilli Powder to gain a delicate flavour and simplified the procedure for pressure cooking. She made it with mutton, and the curry tastes best with it. I have added a beef version.

Nutritive Value

The meat in the Sivappu Kulambu makes it high protein and the potatoes and the oil contribute a medium amount of energy to the dish. If you serve it with parattas it becomes a high energy dish. Serve with chappatis if you wish to moderate the energy intake.


  • ½ kg Beef or Mutton Cubes
  • 2 large Potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 10 pods Garlic
  • 1 inch piece Ginger
  • 4 large Onions, sliced
  • 1 T Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
  • ¼ C Gingelly (Sesame) Oil
  • 1 T Salt, or to taste
  • 1 ½ C Water, or as required


  1. Grind garlic and ginger together.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a pressure cooker, and mix.
  3. Add sufficient water to get some gravy.
  4. Pressure cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with chappatis or parattas.


  1. Do not fry any of the ingredients. The charm of the curry will be lost.
  2. If you are using mutton, you can add bones as well.
  3. I use Kashmiri chilli powder for its fiery rich colour and mild flavour.
  4. The Sivappu Kulambu does not go well with rice as the gravy is very thin.

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