Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu # South Vs North June Challenge

As part of Divya's South Vs North Challenge, this month Priya (akka) from Priya's Versatile Recipes challenged us to cook Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu.  It was the first time i heard the name. but once i cooked it, i realized i had eaten it several times in our Chennai mess. they used to cook it really well and  i always ended up over-eating whenever it was served. I however didn't know the curry by this name. we used to call it the south Indian pakoda curry which (i learnt from wiki) is what Pakoda Kuzhambu translates to in English. 

While it is a fairly straight-forward recipe to cook through, it took me two long kitchen sessions to get this curry right. while the gravy tasted wonderful, i wasn't very happy with the way the pakodas had turned out when i cooked it the the first time. they were dense and hard. so i asked Priya akka if she had any tips to share. almost instantly she asked me if i had fried it too long.. yes i had. well, while frying vadas/pakodas(which i almost never do)  i always have this phobia that the interiors will remain uncooked and so i tend to over-fry them (as a consequence make them rock-hard)... anyway the second time i was more careful with the pakodas and they worked out fine.. weren't perfectly porous... atleast not the slightly bigger ones but so hard either. the smaller ones were better in every way and i think the  Pakoda Kuzhambu would have been perfect had i stuck to the smaller pakoda size and not rushed through the recipe by dropping larger chunks of the lentil mixture  in the oil. anyway those are just notes for me for next time... 

now the recipe....

Chettinad Pakoda Kuzhambu
Recipe Source : Priya's Versatile Recipes
  • for the pakodas
    • 1/2 cup Chanadal (split gram dal)
    • 3 dry red chillies
    • salt
    • oil for frying
    • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • for the gravy
    •  oil
    • spices for seasoning
      • 1 inch cinnamon stick
      • 2 cloves (the spice)
      • 2 green cardamoms
      • 2 bay leaves
      • 1 tsp fennel seeds*
      • few curry leaves
    • 2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
    • 2 small tomatoes, finely chopped
    • 4 garlic pods, grated
    • 2 green chilles, split lengthwise
    • 1 tbsp coriander powder
    • 1 tsp red chilly powder
    • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
    • to be ground together 
      • 1 tsp poppy seeds
      • 4 tbsp grated coconut ( I used coconut powder)
      • 6 cashew nuts (second time I used almonds)
      • 1 tbsp roasted channa dal
    • 1-2 tsp tamarind paste
    • salt 
  • for garnish
    • finely chopped coriander leaves 
 * i did not add this.

 what i did
  • for the pakodas
    • i soaked the channa dal overnight (it is however enough to soak it for 2 hours).
    • next day, i ground the soaked channa dal along with the dry red chillies, fennel seeds, salt and very little water. the ground mixture was slightly coarse in texture. i believe, keeping it that way is important for the porosity of the fried pakodas.
    • i then heated the oil for frying. once the oil was hot enough i dropped golf sized balls of the ground mixture in the oil. on take two i was careful enough to follow the instructions and pinch the mixture balls so that they form shapeless pakodas.
    • once the pakodas looked golden brown, i removed them from the oil and drained off the excess oil with a paper towel.
    • i then kept the pakodas aside and went ahead to prepare the gravy.
  • for the gravy, 
    • i first dry ground the the poppy seeds along with the coconut powder, almonds and roasted channa dal in the coffee grinder and then adding enough water to the mixture to form a fine paste, i kept it aside.
    • next heating enough oil in a medium sized saucepan, i added the spices for seasoning and fried them till they browned. 
    • i then added the onions, tomatoes, garlic and chillies and cooked them until the onions and tomatoes were well done.
    • once a lovely fragrance came across, i added the ground paste to the veggies and simmered for a couple of minutes. 
    • i then added 3 cups of water, chilly powder, turmeric powder and salt to the saucepan, gave it a good stir then covered the saucepan and cooked over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
    • at this point i tasted the gravy, adjusted the salt and to suit to our taste, added 1/2 cup water and the tamarind paste and cooked the gravy for a few more minutes.
    • once the oil started separating from the gravy, i added the pakodas to the gravy and over medium-low heat brought the to a boil.
    • then switching off the heat i transferred to a serving bowl and garnished the curry with the chopped coriander.

We enjoyed the Pakoda Kuzhambu that night with rice, yogurt and papad.  It was such a treat !!
Many thanks to Priya (akka) for the challenge and the tips and a big thanks to Divya for starting the South Vs North Challenge

Linking this to Priya's Versatile Recipe & Divya's space...

and a few other food events on the web...


  1. They look great Tanu.. Kudos to ur perseverance to try them again to perfect them :) Loved the clicks btw !!


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