Drumsticks and brinjal curry (kara kuzhambu)

This dish is famous in Tamil Nadu, south India. If you visit any restaurant here during lunch time, if you order for a south Indian meal, then you will get this dish also among other dishes. Only the vegetables vary and the taste. Every restaurant and in every house they have varieties of kuzhambu (gravy) like kara (spicy) kuzhambu, pundu (garlic) kuzhambu, vathal or vattal (dried vegetables) kuzhambu, more (buttermilk) kuzhambu and more. It is just that you are adding your favourite vegetables in it. I love that tangy, spicy and sour taste. It goes well with rice and idli or dosa also. Kuzhambu means gravy. I used to have this only in restaurants and at friend's places. I have collected some recipes from my friend's mother and now I am sharing it. For kuzhambu, always prefer using gingelly oil. If not any oil used for cooking like sunflower oil or vegetable oil is okay.


    For paste

  1. Gingelly oil – 1 tbsp
  2. Small onion (sliced) – 1
  3. Shallots – 8
  4. Tomatoes (roughly chopped) – 2
  5. Sambar powder (any brand) – 2 tbsp
  6. Grated coconut – 1/3 cup
  7. Water – 150 ml
  8. For gravy seasoning

  9. Gingelly oil – 2 tbsp
  10. Hing – 1/4 tsp
  11. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  12. Methi seeds – 1/2 tsp
  13. Dry chillies – 3
  14. Chana dal – 3 tsp
  15. Garlic cloves - 4
  16. Curry leaves – 15
  17. For gravy

  18. Brinjal – 3
  19. Drumstick (cut to 3 inch size) – 1
  20. Shallots (sambar onions) – 7
  21. Chilli powder – 1 tsp
  22. Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
  23. Water - 1 cup
  24. Tamrind (thick concentrated paste) – 1 1/2 tsp
  25. Salt - as per taste


    In this dish I have used thick concentrated tamarind paste(ready made), if using tamarind , avoid using water. use lemon size ball tamarind and soak it in warm water and squeeze the juice of 1cup water.

    For the paste ,I have used combination of ordinary and sambar onions, you can use any one, medium size (1)onion or 10 to 12 shallots.


  1. Preheat the vessel and add oil. When warm, add both the onions and fry it until it is soft and transparent and lightly brown.
  2. Now add tomatoes and cook until it is soft and smashed. You can close the lid and cook it on medium heat.
  3. At last, add sambar powder and grated coconut stir for about a minute and switch off. Let this cool.
  4. Ground this into a paste by adding 150 ml water in a mixer or blender. You can use 50 ml water more to clear the remaining from the mixer and pour it in the paste while cooking.
  5. Kuzhambu

  6. Preheat a wider vessel and add oil. When it gets warm add seasoning - hing, mustard seeds, chana dal. When it splutters, add the other ingredients and stir for 30 secs or until it changes colour lightly.
  7. Now add all the vegetables and fry for a few minutes 2 to 3 mins until the vegetables are lightly roasted. Then add chilli powder and turmeric, roast for a few more secs. Then immediately add a thick tamarind paste and water. Mix well. Close the lid and cook until the vegetables are cooked.
  8. After about 10 mins, the vegetables will be just cooked. Add salt and the ground paste. Mix well and cook for about a further 8 to 10 mins.
  9. The vegetables are cooked and a gravy consistency is formed. Simmer for 5 to 7 mins and then switch off. Stir occasionally. It leaves oil on top when it is cooked.
  10. It should be like a gravy. If water gets reduced, you can add more water according to the consistency you like.
  11. Serve it with plain rice, idli or dosa. It is sour and a tangy.


  1. If using tamarind water instead of tamarind paste, do not use more water while cooking.
  2. You can use any combination of vegetables or even only one vegetable. Ladies finger or drumsticks or beans or brinjals are some of them you can use.
  3. You can alter the quantity of chilli powder and sourness (tamarind) as per your liking.
  4. Taste the dish while it is cooking or cooked. You can find out if there is anything you need to add or forgotten. You will know this from the taste.