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A South Indian Vegetarian Dish - Kulambu or Kuzhambu
Kulambu | Pulusu Recipe
What is Kuzhambu Recipe or Pulusu Recipe
"Kuzhambu" is a South Indian dish mostly used as the side dish with rice. It is known as "Pulusu" in Andhra Pradesh and "Kulambu" in Tamil Nadu. It is made up of pulses (yellow split pigeon peas) and vegetables. Most people get confused with the kuzhambu recipe and think it to be the same or as equal to the 'Sambar' dish that is being consumed with idlis.
But, no, it is not Sambar. "Kulambu" is different from sambar.
In Sambar, we use lesser quantity of tamarind juice and add very finely cut pieces of vegetables and a spice powder known as 'sambar' powder.
But Kulambu is prepared by adding comparatively more quantity of tamarind juice and big pieces of vegetables; with no sambar powder. Instead of the sambar powder, green chilies or dry(red) chili powder is used. Some people use pepper powder also.
Importance of Kuzhambu Recipe in Southern India
- Kulambu is used daily for eating rice food. Either Kulambu or sambar is a must side dish for eating the rice in entire south India and especially in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. But, sambar is mostly eaten by Tamil people, whereas the Telugu people eat only Kulambu known as Pulusu.
- It is a must on the 3rd day of Makar Sankranti festival also in the month of January as an old custom practiced by people in Andhra Pradesh.
- It is a traditional practice to prepare Kuzhambu recipe for all festival days and during family gatherings. Meals without Kulambu is considered as incomplete.
- Marriage festivities are also considered incomplete or of low prestige without this Kulambu recipe or Pulusu.
- It is a healthy and calorie-rich heavy recipe to fill your stomach.
Ingredients Required for Kulambu or Pulusu Recipe
Ingredients for Preparation of One Liter Kuzhambu Recipe or Pulusu Recipe
split yellow pigeon peas
to be cooked separately
no need to remove skin
Big round, black brinjals
carrot or sweet potatoes
fresh and soft
remove outer layers
to be soaked for juice
shave for easy mix
dry chilli powder or green chillies
use either powder or 4,5 green chillies
one heaped spoonful
mustard seeds, cumins, methi (fenugreek) seeds
for frying to top
a small bunch
coriander leaves (optional)
Step-By-Step Preparation Instructions for Kulambu / Pulusu Recipe
Step-By-Step Preparation of Kuzhambu Recipe
- In the first place, you take 50 grams tamarind in a small wide container and soak it in 200 ml water.
- Then, take the dal (pigeon peas) into a cooker, wash them and add water to cook and place the cooker on the flame and allow it to cook till it emits four whistles.
- In the meantime, you can keep the vegetables ready. Take the vegetables as listed above or others of your choice and cut them into big pieces as shown in the images. You can make them big pieces or medium pieces. Some prefer large (one inch) pieces to enjoy the special taste of those pieces when cooked in the Kulambu. You can add sweet potatoes or ordinary potatoes in place of carrot. After cutting vegetables and onions, take green chilies and slice them vertically from the bottom end without separating the pieces at the top end or head end.
- After the dal (pulses) gets cooked, remove the cooker from flame and allow to cool for opening the lid.
- When vegetables are cut and the jaggery is also shaved into thin layers or cut into tiny pieces, you may prepare the tamarind pulp juice by removing the waste from the pulp.
- Now, remove the lid of the cooker, mix the dal with a ladle and add the vegetable pieces and tamarind juice into it and mix well pouring more water so that the mix is in a medium-thick liquid form. Then add shaved jaggery, salt, turmeric powder and the green chilies into it. Place the lid on the cooker and again place it on heat for 5 to 7 minutes so that it makes two whistles. Then remove it from the flame and cool for some time.
- Now place a small frying pan or ladle on low flame and pour one spoonful of oil into it and allow to heat. Then add the seeds of mustard, fenugreek, and cumin and a little bit of asafoetida powder, fry till fenugreek gets a little dark and add it to the Kulambu recipe as a topper. You can top again it with the coriander leaves finely cut for a good look and smell.
- Before topping, you are expected to remove the Kulambu from the cooker into a separate bowl or container having a lid. Now, your Pulusu or Kulambu recipe is ready for the serve.
Extra Tips to Make Kuzhambu or Pulusu Recipe Tasty and Delicious
- Cook the (dal) pulses to become paste-like for easy mixing with cooked vegetables to give a good taste to the entire preparation.
- You may add other pulses like chickpeas, green peas or black peas also in small quantities for mixed taste while cooking the yellow pigeon peas.
- You may reduce tamarind and jaggery quantities or increase as per your taste.
- Some people add drumstick pieces but it will be uneasy or embarrassing in eating; as you may have to spit the hard core of it. Better you leave them unserved.
- If you are adding sweet potatoes, no need to add pumpkin also as both are sweet veggies. Or you may take reduced quantities to add both.
- You can add your choice of vegetables and quantities. But remember to make the preparation a thick soup instead of preparing diluted one for good taste.
- And, yes. Adding green chilies is best instead of adding chili powder or pepper and other powders. Green chilies give you best taste and are healthy also.
- While topping it, it will be better if you can make powder of the fenugreek by separately frying it dry and mix the powder in the prepared Kuzhambu or Pulusu recipe and then top it with other ingredients fried in oil.
- Topping with fresh coriander leaves enhances the flavor and beauty of the recipe though I have been unable to add them. Even then my recipe was very good in taste.