Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Paruppu urundai Kuzhambu

Want a protein boost to your diet? Run out of vegetables and looking for something satisfying to cook up? It was the latter that prompted me to make this. A traditional Tamil kuzhambu(spicy soup) that is usually served with rice and ghee and a simple vegetable curry on the side. Soul food for me. I loosely followed the recipe from Samaithu Paar by Meenakshi Ammal, my go-to book for traditional South Indian food.

The basic idea is to grind up lentils with some seasoning, make ping-pong sized balls and drop them into a boiling tamarind soup and cook them. It turns out that this requires some practice and careful monitoring of the consistency of said lentil batter, else the balls disintegrate and create a complete mess. So I followed a trick to ensure that the balls don't fall apart - steam them. Yes, it is one extra step. Yes, the lentil balls don't taste as good as when they are cooked in the tamarind soup. However, I'm willing to make the compromise to ensure they retain their shape.


Paruppu Urundai (Lentil Balls)
1C Toor Dal
5 Red Chillis
1/8 t Asafoetida
1 t Salt

Kuzhambu (Soup)
1 T Sesame oil (Canola/Sunflower/Vegetable ok)
1 T Tamarind paste
1 T Sambhar powder
2.5 C Water
1 T Urad Dal
2 Red Chillis
1/4 t Fenugreek seeds
1/2 t Mustard seeds
8-10 Curry leaves
1 T Rice flour (optional)
Asafoetida, a pinch

Soak the Toor Dal in water for 1-2 hours. Grind with the red chillis, asafoetida and salt, adding as little water as possible. Shape the Dal paste into lemon sized balls, as best as possible and steam them for 15 minutes. I steamed them in my Idli stand.

Mix the tamarind paste with water to make up 2.5 cups of tamarind juice. Heat oil and add mustard, urad dal, red chillis, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. Once the mustard pops, add asafoetida and the sambhar powder. Fry for a few seconds, stirring quickly to prevent burning. Add the tamarind juice and bring to a rolling boil. After 10 minutes, add the urundais, a few at a time, making sure that they have enough room to move around. I had 16 urundais. Allow this to simmer gently for 15 minutes, then make a slurry with the rice flour. Add the slurry to the Kuzhambu, and allow it to boil for 2 minutes before turning off the heat. Serve with hot rice and ghee.

The Kuzhambu was delicious and I will definitely be making this again. Next time, I might be bold enough to cook the urundais in the Kuzhambu itself. It is filling and almost feels like eating Paruppu-usili with Kuzhambu.


  1. I dont steam the lentil chunks...i directly drop them in to the sambar tamarind water and add a few drops of oil...this prevents the balls from breaking and also mingles hte flavours of the balls in the tamarind as well as the flavours of the balls in the sambar....YUM<

  2. @ Anubhavati - thanks for visiting! Yes, I'm sure cooking them directly in the tamarind water tastes much better, but I don't have much anubhavam with this :). I'm planning to try it the next time though.