Before the advent of readily available sambar masala powders in the shops, in the old days people had to make simple “ paruppu kuzhambu ” with tur dhal (red gram) and locally available vegetables without adding much spices etc. This is a specialty still liked by many folks in the interior south of Tamil Nadu.  Though it lacks the strong flavor and pungent taste of sambar, it has it’s unique taste and smell.

Servings: 3
Cooking Time: 1 hour


1.      Tur Dhal (red gram ) : 0.5 Cup ( 100 grams )
2.      Shallots (Small onion) : 10
3.      G. chili : 5 no
4.      Tomato : 1 small one
5.      Vegetable of your choice – preferably drumstick and 2 brinjals (Egg plant)
6.      Curry leaves and Coriander leaves – 2 sprigs each
7.      Cloves of garlic: 2 no
8.      Mustard : 0.5 Teaspoon
9.      Cumin Seeds : 1 Teaspoon
10.     Turmeric Powder: 0.5 Teaspoon
11.     Asafoetida : 1 pinch
12.     Salt: 1 Teaspoon
13.     Oil – Gingelly: 1 Tablespoon
14.     Coconut Gratings: 1 Tablespoon
15.     Water : 3 Cups

Paruppu Kulambu
Paruppu Kuzhambu


Wash the tur dhal and soak it in one and a half cup water for an hour. Clean and chop the shallots, tomato, vegetables and slit the g. chili. Grind lightly the coconut gratings along with half of the cumin seeds and 2 g. chili and keep aside. In a cooker boil the tur dhal along with the turmeric powder, garlic, asafoetida, 5 Shallots, 3 g.chili, tomato and the diced vegetables for 10 minutes till the dhal and vegetables are well cooked.  In a skillet add the oil and heat it over moderate flame and put the mustard seeds, the remaining cumin seeds, shallots, and finally curry leaves and fry for a couple of minutes.  Then add the cooked dhal with vegetables and add the salt and the remaining water with the ground coconut paste and let it boil for 5 minutes. Stir it well and before taking off the stove add the coriander leaves.

Tips:  This kuzhambu is suitable for rice mostly and people prefer the thinner version of this curry.  The coconut gratings can be added to the curry either ground slightly or as they are.



Kuzhi Paniyaram

Kuzhi Paniyaram (Sweet) is a traditional snack item prepared in the households of Tamil Nadu especially in the chettinad region. It is made using a special vessel with small molded depressions in it.  On special days and festival days, these paniyarams are made.  Both sweet and savory type paniyarms can be made with the same dough adding different ingredients. First we can make the dough and then divide it into two portions to make both the sweet and the savory type paniyarms.

Cooking time:  2 hours (excluding the fermentation time etc)
Servings: 8
1.      Raw rice: 1.5 Cup ( 250 grams)
2.      Par Boiled rice: 1.5 Cup ( 250 grams)
3.      Black gram dhal (Urad dhal  -white, skin removed): 0.25Cup ( 50 grams)
4.      Fenugreek: 2 Teaspoons
5.      Salt : 1.5 Teaspoon
6.      Coconut Gratings: 0.25 Cup
7.      Baking Soda (Soda bi-carb): 1 Teaspoon
8.      Kuzhi paniyaram vessel ( vessel with molded depressions for pouring batter)


Clean the rice, Urad dhal and the fenugreek seeds with water and soak in water for 3,4 hours and grind it to a smooth dough in a blender or mixie.  Add the salt and allow it to ferment for 5,6 hours.  Now mix the baking powder in a tablespoon water and mix it well in the fermented dough with coconut gratings and divide it into two portions for making both the savory and the sweet kuzhi paniyarams.

Kara Paniyaram

1.      Mustard: 1 Teaspoon
2.      Onion: 1
3.      G.chili : 1
4.      Curry leaves: 1 Sprig
5.      Oil: 2 Teaspoon
6.      Ghee (Clarified butter) : 0.25 Cup


Chop the onion and the g.chili. Heat a skillet with oil over moderate flame and add the mustard. Then add the other ingredients and fry them. Add it to the dough and mix well. Now keep the“kuzhi paniyaram” vessel over the flame and in every depression pour ghee and then fill it with the dough up to only 3/4th of its depth as the paniyaram will rise up. Use a spoon or thin stainless steel rod to turn the cooked paniyaram to the other side to be cooked.  Both the sides should be cooked evenly and the color should be light brown.  Serve it hot with chutney of your choice. Coconut chutney goes well with this.
1.      Palmyra jaggery (karupatti -unrefined palmyra sugar)- 200 grams


Make syrup with the jaggery and a table spoon of water over moderate flame for a few minutes and strain the syrup to remove the stones etc from it.  Add this syrup to the rice dough which is divided into two portions.  Mix well and make sweet paniyarams   applying ghee to the vessel.
Tips:  Fried cashew, powdered cardamoms can be added to the dough to get extra taste and flavor.


Nethili Fish Curry or Nethili Meen Kuzhambu is a traditional fish curry that is native to the south eastern districts for Tamilnadu. It is cooked in native clay pots generally. “Nethili” known as Anchovies fish in English is a tiny fish regularly available in Indian Coasts and it is consumed both as a curry as well as a fry.  All small fish like Anchovies, sardines etc., are good for health as they increase the good cholesterol of our body.
Nethili 1
Fish Curry
1.      Nethili Fish (Anchovies) : ½ kg (500 grams)
2.      Shallots : 50 grams
3.      Onion : 1 ( 50 grams )
4.      Garlic : 4 cloves
5.      Tomato : 1 ( 50 grams)
6.      Tamarind : 1 small ball
7.      Raw Mango : 1 small one
8.      Turmeric Powder: ½ teaspoon
9.      Chili Powder: 2 teaspoon
10.   Coriander powder: 1 teaspoon
11.   Mustard: ½ teaspoon
12.   Fenugreek : 1 teaspoon
13.   Oil : 1 ½ tablespoon
14.   Curry leaves: 2 sprigs
15.   Salt : 1 teaspoon
Clean the fish first by peeling off the head along with the intestine wastes and wash well with water and keep aside. Remove the skin of onion and shallots and chop into small pieces. Cut the tomato and the raw mango to small sizes. Use some water to squeeze the tamarind pulp. Using a mud pot enhances the taste of the fish curry being cooked in it.  Heat the oil in the mud vessel over moderate flame and add the mustard. It splutters and then sauté the onions and garlic till they turn translucent. Then you can put the chopped tomato, mango and curry leaves and fry for a couple of minutes. Then add the T.powder, chili powder, Coriander powder, salt, tamarind juice with one cup of water to the pot. Let it simmer for 5 minutes. Finally add the fish and allow it to simmer over low flame for 10 to 12 minutes till the curry thickens to your liking.
Nethili Fish Curry
Nethili Fish
Tips:  This fish curry remains fresh for a couple of days in the same mud pot and it even
tastes better after a day or two.


Green Gram Ladoo

Green Gram (Moong) Ladoo is made out of green gram (whole), known as “paasi or pachai payarau” in Tamil and sugar etc and it is prepared for many festivals and  functions.  Green gram is rich in nutrients particularly protein and it contains all the major nutrients viz. protein, carbohydrate and fat. It is quite easy to make and it stays fresh for a fortnight at room temperature. Unlike many sweets which are deep fried in either oil or ghee, this dish does not need frying. And so making it is also simple.
Green Gram Ladoo

No of pieces: 40
Cooking Time: 1 hour


1.      Green gram whole (pasi payaru): 500 grams
2.      Whole wheat: 100 grams
3.      Raw rice: 50 grams
4.      Sugar : 500 grams
5.      Cardamom: 5 no
6.      Ghee (clarified butter): 1.25 Cup ( 250ml)
7.      Cashew: 20 no


Fry the green gram in a pan without oil over moderate flame carefully turning it till it changes color to light brown with good flavor.  This frying will take 8 to 10 minutes. Remove it and cool it in a plate.  Then fry the wheat in the same vessel till it changes its color to light brown. Remove from stove and cool it spreading it in the plate and fry the rice for 5 minutes.  Either use a blender to powder the fried gram, wheat and rice together with the cardamom well or get it powdered in the flour mill. Use the blender to powder the sugar and add it to the gram, wheat etc flour and mix well.  Heat the ghee in a pan and fry the cashew and remove the pan from the stove. Now add the flour, sugar mixture to the ghee and while it is hot itself, start making round balls of spherical shape pressing them a bit hard.


POOSANIKAI HALWA: Ash Gourd known in Tamil as “Poosanikai” is a vegetable commonly found and used in every part of Tamil Nadu and most parts of India.  In Tamil Nadu it is preferred as a vegetable cooked in “more kuzhambu” or as a side dish.  It is grated and prepared as  halwa  ( a sweet dish) which is usually served in weddings and other functions. Ash Gourd is not high in calories but it is nutritious with good mineral and vitamin content.
Pumpkin 6 008
COOKING TIME: 1 ½ hours
1.      Ash Gourd (grated finely in a grater) : 6 Cups
2.      Refined Sugar: 2 ½ Cups ( 500 grams)
3.      Milk : ½ Cup ( 100 ml)
4.      Ghee (clarified butter) : 1 Cup ( 200 ml)
5.      Cardamom : 3
6.      Cashew : 15 no
7.      Raisin : 15
8.      Food Color : a pinch (optional)


                  Remove the skin and the centre pith with seeds and finely grate the ash gourd pieces.  Keep it aside. Powder the cardamom and with a tablespoon of ghee fry the cashew nuts and raisins.  Over moderate flame, keep a thick bottomed vessel and add the grated ash gourd pulp with water and milk and allow it to simmer till the water etc evaporates completely. Keep stirring this mixture continuously without getting it burnt and this will take 20 to 30 minutes to get the water absorbed well.   Sugar should be added next with the cardamom powder and food color.  When the sugar melts fully, add the ghee to the mixture.  It will take another 15  to 20 minutes for the entire mixture to blend and it will  stop sticking to the sides of the vessel, oozing out the ghee.  Finally add the fried cashew and raisins and remove from stove.
Pumpkin 6 002
Tips:  Adding extra sugar and ghee is optional as per one’s taste.
This sweet can stay fresh for 4,5 days at room temperature. It takes some time to cook the grated ash gourd with water to evaporate and so instead it can be cooked in the pressure cooker allowing for one or two whistles.