Sundakkai Vathal Kuzhambu is a spicy tamarind base curry topped with fried sun-dried turkey berries. This kuzhambu pairs well with rice, yogurt and a vegetable side.
Vathal is any sun dried vegetable or chillies that is deep fried in hot oil before consuming. Before sun drying, they are soaked in a salted buttermilk mix to add some flavors to it.
So, Vathal Kuzhambu will be anything kinda saucy curry that is made with tamarind or yogurt (in most cases, it is tamarind) and topped with a fried vathal of any kind. In this recipe, Sundakkai / Chundakka or Turkey Berries are used and hence the name Sundakkai Vathal Kuzhambu.
This Sundakkai Vathal Kuzhambu is
- Spicy and tangy at the same time, making it very mouth wateringly delicious
- Easy to make, takes less than 20 mins.
- A great accompaniment to rice - plain white rice or curd rice
What is Sundakkai / Turkey Berry?
Turkey Berry is the green berry-like fruit of the Solanum Torvum plant and belongs to the nightshade family of plants - like tomato and eggplant.
What are the health benefits of Turkey Berry / Sundakkai?
Turkey berry is a great source of plant based iron and is used to treat anemia. But as with most plant based sources of iron, the absorption of iron from turkey berry into the human body is less.
Turkey berry has antimicrobial properties, and may promote better immune function of the human body.
As always, consult your healthcare provider to use this as a medicine or to treat any medical conditions.
Ingredients for Chundakka Vathal Kuzhambu recipe
- Tamarind - tamarind pulp from fresh tamarind can be used or ready-to-use tamarind puree can be used. I like this brand of tamarind paste - since it is very concentrated, a teaspoon of this puree is equal to pulp from a key lime size tamarind ball.
- Turkey Berry / Sundakkai / Chundakka - sun dried sundakkai is used in this recipe. This is readily available at most Indian grocery stores in the US and online on Amazon.
- Spices - a blend of fresh spices (red chillies, black peppercorns, fenugreek seeds / methi seeds) and lentils (urad dal, chana dal) are toasted in oil, ground and used in this recipe. You can also use sambar powder in a pinch.
- Oil - sesame oil / gingelly oil / nallennai is traditionally used in this recipe. If you need to substitute it, use a neutral oil like avocado oil
- Curry leaves - curry leaves along with mustard seeds are used in the tadka (tempered seasoning) in this recipe.
- Jaggery - a small piece of jaggery is added to this kuzhambu. This balances the spice and sourness in the curry. You can substitute the jaggery with some regular cane sugar, brown sugar or coconut sugar.
How to make Sundakkai Vathal Kuzhambu
Heat the sesame oil and roast the whole spices in it, along with the curry leaves. Let them cool down and grind to a fine paste with a little water added to it.
If you are making tamarind extract, soak tamarind in some hot water and squeeze out the pulp from it once the water has cooled down a little. Seive the pulp to get rid of any seeds or other thick tamarind skin.
Add this tamarind water to a saucepan and bring it to a boil. Add the spice paste / masala paste to this and mix well.
Add turmeric powder, jaggery and salt. Mix well and let it boil for about 5-6 mins, till the raw tamarind smell goes away.
Turn off the heat. Heat some more sesame oil / nallennai in the pan used to roast the spices.
Add mustard seeds to the hot oil. Once they splutter, add the sundakkai and let it start to fluff up a little and start to turn color. Don't let it burn. Add some curry leaves as well and pour this into the saucepan with the tamarind-spice mix.
Give it a quick mix. You can add some chopped cilantro as garnish as well.
What is Vathal Kuzhambu usually served with?
- South Indian Yogurt Rice / Thayir Sadham is my personal favorite to eat with vathal kuzhambu
- Hot plain white rice, sesame oil, sundakkai vathal kuzhambu and appalam (preferably sutta appalam - roasted not fried papad) is another popular combo.
- Plain white rice, sundakkai vathal kuzhambu and any koottu variety or poriyal / thoran is also a great combo.
- Use cold pressed sesame oil for this recipe. Do not use toasted sesame oil, as it wont taste the same at all.
- While roasting the spices, keep the heat low to medium-low. Let it cool down completely before grinding it into a paste. Use a tablespoon of water at a time while grinding and add more as needed. If you add too much water, then it wont grind to a fine paste.
- This curry is supposed to be a little spicy. It needs the heat to balance out that sourness from the tamarind. But if you think the spice level is too much, then use less chillies. You can add red chili powder along with the turmeric powder, if you feel like the curry can stand a little more heat.
- If you don't have fresh tamarind or don't want to go through the labor of extracting tamarind pulp from fresh tamarind, use tamarind paste. This brand of tamarind paste is what I use and it tastes very fresh.
- If the curry becomes a little too watery, you can let it boil down to thicken before you add the tadka. If not, you can add a slurry of rice flour and water to this and let it boil well to get the raw smell of the rice flour out.
- This curry can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. It starts to taste better the next couple of days as the flavors all steep in. Heat a little, as needed in the microwave or on the stove top.
- You could also add some pearl onions / sambar onions and chopped tomatoes to the tamarind gravy while it boils.
Sundakkai Vathal Kuzhambu | Turkey Berry Tamarind Curry
For the spice paste
For the Curry
- 1 key lime sized ball of tamarind or 1 ½ teaspoon tamarind paste
- 2 ½ cups water
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- ½ inch cube jaggery
For the tempered seasoning
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- ¼ cup sundakkai
- 5-6 curry leaves
Don't forget to check out Step-by-step instructions with photos in the body of the post above
- Heat the sesame oil and roast the whole spices in it, along with the curry leaves. Let them cool down and grind to a fine paste with a little water added to it.
- If you are making tamarind extract, soak tamarind in 1 cup of hot water and squeeze out the pulp from it once the water has cooled down a little. Sieve the pulp to get rid of any seeds or other thick tamarind skin. Repeat with 1 more cup of room temperature water.
- If using tamarind paste, for 1 key lime size ball of tamarind, use 1 ½ teaspoon of tamarind paste and mix it in about 2 cups of water.
- Add this tamarind water to a saucepan along with 1 more cup of water and bring it to a boil.
- Add the spice paste / masala paste to this and mix well. Rinse out the blender jar with ½ cup of water and add this to the saucepan.
- Add turmeric powder, jaggery and salt. Mix well and let it boil for about 5-6 mins, till the raw tamarind smell goes away.
- If you want to thicken the curry a little, reduce the heat to medium and let it cook away for another 10 mins or so.
- Turn off the heat. Heat some more sesame oil / nallennai in the pan used to roast the spices.
- Add mustard seeds to the hot oil. Once they splutter, add the sundakkai and let it start to fluff up a little and start to turn color. Don't let it burn. Add some curry leaves as well and pour this into the saucepan with the tamarind-spice mix.
- Give it a quick mix. You can add some chopped cilantro as garnish as well.