Sundakkai Vatha Kuzhambu

Vatha Kuzhambu is a traditional and common dish made in Brahmin households. Usually it is made with any of the dried vathals like manathakkali (black nightshade) or sundakkai (dried turkey berry). When vathal is not available shallots, drumstick, white pumpkin are used to make this tangy and spicy kuzhambu. Vatha kuzhambu is served with steamed white rice, paruppu thogayal and appalam. It also goes well with curd rice, dosa and idli. Arachuvitta vatha kuzhambu is another way this kuzhambu is prepared using freshly grounded spices.

Sundakkai / turkey berry is known for its medicinal benefits such as relief from cold, stomach problems and skin ailments. Check out this pulikuthi poduthul recipe which uses fresh turkey berry / sundakkai. This kuzhambu is spicy, tangy and slightly bitter and addition of jaggery balances these flavors. I love to have this kuzhambu hot with some plain white rice, paruppu thogayal, potato podimas and appalam - makes a complete and satisfying meal.

Serves 2
Fried sundakkai vathal / dry turkey berry in a spicy tamarind gravy


¼ cup sundakkai vathal / dried turkey berry
1 tsp ghee
1 tbsp tamarind paste / gooseberry sized tamarind
3 tsp sambar powder
1 tsp red chilly powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp jaggery
Few curry leaves
2 tbsp gingelly oil
Salt to taste

For tempering:
1 tsp mustard seeds
2-3 dried red chillies, broken
½ tsp split urad dal
1 tsp chana dal / kadala paruppu
¼ tsp methi seeds / vendayam
¼ tsp asafoetida / hing / kaayam
Few curry leaves


1. Soak tamarind in 2 cups warm water. Extract the pulp and set aside.

2. Heat ghee in a small pan and add the sundakkai vathal. Fry till it turns golden. Set aside.

3. Heat gingelly oil and add mustard seeds. When it crackles, add red chillies, urad dal, chana dal, methi seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves. Fry till dal turns golden.

4. Reduce the heat to low and add sambar powder, red chilly powder and turmeric powder. Saute for few seconds.

5. Add the tamarind extract, salt and bring to boil. Lower the heat to medium and boil till it starts to thicken and oil separates, for about 8-10 minutes.

6. Add the fried sundakkai vathal, jaggery, curry leaves and boil for another 4-5 minutes.

My Notes:

1. Adjust the amount of chilly powder according to your spice level.

2. You can also fry the sundakkai vathal in oil instead of ghee.

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