‘Vathal’ Kuzhambu


‘Vathal’ means a vegetable that has been salted and sun dried in Tamil. Different kinds of berries are generally used. The one in picture above is called “Manathakkali” or the “Black  Nightshade”. The other berry that’s commonly used is called the “Sundakkai” or the “Turkey berry”. There are several resources on the web on the medicinal value of these berries. I choose not to promote any information that I do not have any knowledge about. I choose to cook with these dried berries only for their wonderful flavor and only once in a while, so I doubt I will get any medicinal benefit out of them with very occasional usage. But that’s only my belief.

Both berries are easily available in the Indian grocery stores here in the US and very easily available in Bangalore in the Udupi stores. The smaller berries are labeled as “Manathakkali Vathal” and the slightly larger ones are called “Sundakkai Vathal”.

Dried clusterbeans( Gorikayi) and dried bittermelon( Haagalakayi) pieces can also be used in making this Kuzhambu.

For anyone who is trying this for the very first time, be warned, this dish is bitter. The Sundakkai tends to be considerably more bitter than the Manathakkali. I would like to compare this dish to the Gojju of Karnataka, because it supposed to be bitter, tangy and very slightly sweet. Some people skip the jaggery. I add it because I like the taste.


  1. Manathakkali Vathal- 2 Tsp OR Sundakkai Vathal- about 8 berries( They are very bitter)
  2. Fenugreek seeds- 1/8 Tsp
  3. Mustard seeds- 1/2 Tsp
  4. Tamil Nadu Sambhar powder- 3 Tsp
  5. Turmeric Powder- 1/4 Tsp
  6. Tamarind paste- 2 Tsp or juice from a ping pong ball size of Tamarind( Soak in 2 cups water)
  7. Jaggery Powder- 1 Tsp( Optional)
  8. Salt to taste
  9. A few curry leaves
  10. Asafetida- a pinch
  11. Oil- 2 Tbsp
  12. Water- 2 Cups


Heat the oil in a kadai. Make the seasoning adding the mustard seeds, Fenugreek seeds and asafetida after the mustard starts spluttering. Add the Vathal and stir for a minute, till they start to become bigger. Add the curry leaves. Add the water first if using the tamarind paste. When the water comes to a boil, add the turmeric, sambhar powder, salt, tamarind and jaggery.

If using soaked tamarind, put the tamarind water to the seasoning, bring to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients.

Simmer for a while on a low flame till the Kuzhambu thickens slightly. Adjust salt and jaggery as necessary.

Serve hot with rice.





Pineapple Gojju

A ‘Gojju’ is a curry/ gravy, that has a perfect balance of Sour, sweet, salt, bitter and piquance.
It can be made with fruits like Pineapple, grapes, cranberries, sour mangos, etc or with vegetables like Bitter gourd, ladies finger or brinjal.

Pineapple Gojju

Gojju Powder( Enough for one time)-
1. Channa Dal- 2 Tsp
2. Urad Dal- 1 Tsp
3. Methi seeds- 1/2 Tsp
4. Byadgi Red chilies- 4 or 5
5. Dry Coconut- 1/2 cup( roasted coconut is a very important taste component of the gojju, so no skimping on this one)
6. Asafetida- a pinch
7. Oil- a few drops

To make Gojju with vegetables like bitter gourd, also add 2 Tsp of Sesame seeds. Make the powder as below.

To make the powder-
Heat the oil, roast all the ingredients till they are slightly brown, except the coconut. Turn off the heat and add the coconut, roast till the coconut just starts to turn color. Cool the mixture and powder in a clean spice grinder.

To make the Gojju-
1. 1/4 of a Pineapple- cut into 1/8 inch pieces
2. Turmeric Powder- 1/4 Tsp
3. Jaggery powder- 2 TBSP
4. Tamarind paste- 1 Tsp OR the juice squeezed out from a lemon sized ball of Tamarind
5. Salt- To taste
6. Curry Leaves- 1 sprig
7. Mustard seeds- 1/4 Tsp
8. Oil- 4 Tbsp
9. Asafetida- a pinch

Grind the Gojju powder with a little water to make a thick, fine paste. Make a tempering of the mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafetida. To the oil, add the pineapple pieces. Saute the pineapple for about 5 minutes. Add the Gojju paste. It will start thickening immediately. Add about a cup of water( add more if it gets too thick). Add the tamarind, salt and Jaggery. Cover and let it simmer. Check for seasoning. Serve hot with rice or Chappathis.

Bisi Sasive

‘Sasive’ is the kannada name of the Mustard seed. Mustard is basically used for tempering, but in Udupi cuisine, it is ground to a paste with coconut and used to give food a strong and nutty flavor. Thus, the name of the dish is ‘Sasive’.
‘Sasive’ can either be made cold, as a raitha or hot like a Gojju or sambhar. This is a recipe for a hot Sasive.

1. Sweet pumpkin, cut into 1 inch cubes- 2 cups( Other vegetables like Okra, Ash gourd, Mangalore cucumber can also be used)
2. Fresh grated coconut- 1/4 cup
3. Mustard seeds-1 tsp
4. Red Chilies- 4 to 5
5. Fenugreek seeds- 1/8 Tsp, roasted
5. Tamarind paste or juice from a lemon sized ball of tamarind
6. Jaggery( Optional)- 1/2 Tsp
7. Salt to taste

For the Tempering-
1. Oil/ghee- 4 Tsp
2. Mustard seeds- 1/2 Tsp
3. Asafetida- a pinch
4. Curry leaves- a sprig

Grind the Coconut, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, chilies to a fine paste with a little water. In a pan, heat the oil and make a tempering with the mustard and asafetida. Add the cut vegetables to the tempering, saute well. Sprinkle some water, cover and cook on a low flame till they are soft, but not mushy. Add some salt and turmeric powder also. If Okra is being used, the okra has to be shallow fried well in oil till it loses all the slime and then has to be added to the tempering.
After the vegetables are done, add the coconut paste, tamarind and the jaggery. If the mixture is too thick, add a little water. The consistency should be that of sambhar. Let it simmer for a few minutes. Check for seasoning and serve hot with rice or chappathi.