Generally, South Indian dhal curry is always associated with Sambar, but in Thirunelveli (a southern district of Tamil Nadu) dhal curry or kuzhambu is made using ground coconut and fresh green spices like green chillies. There are several variations of this kuzhambu, but I am presenting the paruppu kuzhambu which has been made in my family for generations. We use red gram dhal, green chillies and coriander leaves, and select South Indian vegetables. It is always tempered with fenugreek seeds along with mustard seeds. We also use unripe mango to give sourness or tamarind extract when mango is not available. I have added fenugreek powder also to enhance the flavour.
Paruppu kuzhambu is a favourite curry to be served with rice. When I combine it with Kari Kaadi Poriyal the dishes are wiped clean!
Red gram dhal provides 22g of protein per 100g. Lady’s finger is rich in folic acid, a vitamin involved in the production of red blood corpuscles. Unripe mango gives 100mg of vitamin C per 100g. When served with rice, the rice protein and the dhal protein together supply a high quality vegetable protein.
- ¾ C Red Gram Dhal
- 300 g Lady’s Finger
- 1 medium Unripe Mango
- 2 T diced Onion
- 6 Green Chillies
- 1/3 C chopped Coriander Leaves
- 2 sprigs Curry Leaves
- ¼ tsp Turmeric Powder
- ¼ tsp Asafoetida Powder
- ¼ tsp Fenugreek Powder
- ¼ tsp Mustard Seeds
- ¼ tsp Fenugreek Seeds
- 2 T Vegetable Oil
- 1 T Salt, or to taste
- 2 to 3 C Water
- 1 T Cumin Seeds
- ½ C Coconut Scrapings
- 6 Cloves of Garlic
- Pressure cook the red gram dhal for 15 minutes.
- Wash the lady’s finger, wipe dry, top and tail, and cut into 2.5cm long pieces.
- Broil the lady’s finger (without oil) till brown spots appear on the skin. Set aside.
- Wash the mango to remove any sap sticking to the skin. Cut the mango into 3 pieces, i.e., 2 sides and the seed.
- Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan.
- Add the mustard seeds and wait for it to crackle. Immediately add the fenugreek seeds and fry to a golden brown.
- Add the onion and fry till the onion becomes translucent.
- Add the green chillies and coriander leaves and fry till white spots appear on the green chillies.
- Add the lady’s finger and fry for a couple of minutes.
- Add 2 cups of water and bring to boil, lower heat, and cook till the lady’s finger is tender.
- Add the cooked dhal, turmeric powder, asafoetida powder, fenugreek powder, salt, and the mango. Stir and bring to boil.
- Stir the ground coconut in quarter cup of water. Add to the dhal.
- Add sufficient water to get a thick gravy. Boil for a few minutes.
- Add the curry leaves and remove from heat.
- Serve with rice and Kari Kaadi Poriyal.
- Lady’s finger contains a lot of mucin which is slimy. To reduce the sliminess, the vegetable is broiled without oil to precipitate the sticky mucin before cooking in water.
- Instead of lady’s finger, any of the following vegetables can be used: brinjal (eggplant), drumsticks, broad beans, white radish, or banana stem.
- If mango is not available, soak a small, lime-sized ball of tamarind in warm water and extract the juice. Strain before adding to the curry.