Vatha Kuzhambu


The wedding scene in hindi movies always leave a strong impression in the mind. The scene when the baraat leaves with the bride, is always sentimental. It’s a moment of realization that your daughter is not going to be part of your everyday life anymore. Everyone cries, especially the mother and the bride.

The father will say things like ‘Please take good care of our daughter. She is very precious’ to the bridegroom.  I have seen this in so many movies that the scene is just ingrained in my brain.

So you can’t blame me if I expected an emotional scene when I left home with my husband’s family after my wedding.

There I was – waiting for the train to depart and also waiting for someone to cry – looking at my father, mother and my two brothers expectantly. But they were really merry, they were waving at me happily – that’s the problem of family being adjusted to the girl living away from home for many years before her marriage!

At the last-minute, my father called up my husband. In the hope that he will say things like ‘Take care of my daughter’ and stuff like that, I joined the conversation. And this is what he said :

‘Please take care that my daughter doesn’t eat any more sweets. She is already very fat.’

To add insult to injury, my husband later informed me that my elder brother and mother too had pulled him aside and told him the same thing.

Grrrrrr….I wish I was back in the time when girls got married and they were packed off with a copy of Meenakshi Ammal’s Samaithu paar book and a lot of tears at the time of farewell.

I got the book later, but never got the emotional drama! Sigh…..


Adapted from Meenakshi Ammal’s ‘Samaithu paar’ 


  • Dry Vatral (any kind)                  :          2-3 tbsp, I used ladies finger vatral
  • Mustard seeds                              :          1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds                           :          1 tsp
  • Red chilies                                     :         2
  • curry leaves                                   :         1 sprig
  • Sambar powder                            :        3 tsp
  • Tamarind paste                            :         1 tsp
  • Water
  • Rice flour/maida                         :          2 tsp
  • Gingelly oil                                   :          3 – 4 tbsp


  1. Heat about 3 tbsp gingelly oil in a deep kadai. Deep fry the vatral, drain and keep aside. In the same oil add the mustard seeds, and once it crackles, add the fenugreek seeds and chilies, followed by curry leaves. Be careful, as this will splutter all around, its a good idea to cover the kadai with a lid while tempering.
  2. Add the fried vatral to the tempering and add the sambar powder.  Switch on the chimney while doing this or you might get into a ‘cough fit’. Saute for a minute or two, once the powder changes color (but before it burns totally) add 2-3 cups water and the tamarind paste (or pulp).
  3. Bring it to a boil, add salt as per taste. Mix rice flour (or maida) to 1/4 cup water and add this to the kuzhambu. You need to ensure that there are no dry lumps else they turn into messy dry pieces in the kuzhambu. Mix immediately after adding the rice flour and let it come to a boil again. The kuzhambu has to be thick and reduced by 3/4 th the original quantity.
  4. Do a taste test, adjust seasonings per taste. Serve with rice, papad and a side dish. This makes a wonderful side dish for curd rice.

Snake Gourd Side dish


  • Snakegourd minced or chopped into tiny pieces        :         3 cups
  • Moongdal                                                                            :         1/4 cup
  • Coconut                                                                               :         1/4 cup + 1 tbsp
  • Garlic                                                                                   :         4 pods
  • Jeera                                                                                    :         1 tsp
  • Green chilies                                                                      :         2-3
  • Onion                                                                                   :        1, chopped fine (optional)
  • Oil, mustard, salt                                                              :         1 tsp each or per taste


  1. Finely chop the snakegourd and pressure cook along with washed and cleaned moongdal for 2-3 whistles. The dal should be cooked, but not mashed. You dont have to add too much of water while pressure cooking this. Drain and keep aside.
  2. Grind the coconut, garlic, green chilies and jeera into a coarse paste, without adding water. Keep aside.
  3. In a kadai, heat 1-2 tsp of oil and add the mustard seeds and a sprig of curry leaves. Once it crackles, add the chopped onions and saute till pink. Add the snakegourd mix, salt, coconut paste and mix everything togather. Check the seasonings, adjust per taste.
  4. Cover and cook for 3-5 minutes, stirring in between. Take off the heat and serve with rice and kuzhambu.



16 thoughts on “Vatha Kuzhambu

  1. Yes Rajani Same thing happend to me to insted of crying they are busy with settle down the payments for cooks and other stuff ahhh that is a other story
    Vatha kuzhambu is my all thime fav. your pic. making me drool…


  2. Food look amazing and the way you always writing…. It’s really awesome.. I have no words to show to my facial expression in wording… I love your writing and cooking both skills are amazing.


  3. you had me laughing so hard – I know exactly what scenes you are talking about as I watch a lot of Bollywood movies but your family’s reactions – OMG – thanks 4 putting a smile on my face 2day!


  4. Hilarious!..I can just imagine your facial expression! Is that the sole reason for you being slim now?..wish my folks said the same to my hubby yaar..heheheh…anyway my brother got english version of Meenakshi ammal cookbook and I am going to try from that for the next edition…your setup looks tempting and I would surely want to taste that vatha kuzhambu..


  5. A very interesting narration of the scene in the railway station! Couldn’t help but smile at your reaction :) These simple and easy to make traditional dishes are really comforting and life savers too !


  6. Grand mom has one of these books.Don’t know when/why she got it,but I have seen a dog eared copy there.
    And for the crying part after the wedding, my folks didn’t cry as expected.And if they had told anything to hubby, it must have been to feed me well. I was so skinny!


  7. I still remember my mom’s Meenakshi ammal cookbook, but unfortunately she lost her book while shifting, seriously i have get atleast one next time.

    I cant imagine my vatha kuzhambu without papads..Wonderful spread.


  8. The Meenakshi Ammal is the best Tamil cooking book around… i love mine.. the only negative is the lack of photos and sometimes the ingredients/measurements are not listed together at the top.. But still anyone can learn tamil cooking from it.. your kozhambu looks awesome


    1. Thanks :)

      And I totally agree with you. The book is a huge collection of recipes, some long lost for our generation. Pictures and better measurements would have made it much more usable than it already is!


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