Saturday, July 2, 2011

Caramelized Onion and Garlic in Hot and Sour Fenugreek Gravy (Venthaya Kuzhambu)

Gravy curry known as Kootu or kuzhambu in tamil is one of the main curry in south Indian meals. It goes well with rice, which is the staple food of South Asians. This curry has an aromatic flavorful gravy base, which is made with coconut cream and spices such as curry powder, coriander powder, tamarind pulp, chili powder and garam masala is added to enhance flavors of this curry. Similar type of curries are popular in Malaysian, Thai and Sri Lankan cuisine. Curries of each cuisine will have its own distinctive ingredient. For example Thai curry will be flavored with aromatics like kaffir lime leaf and lemon grass. Distinctive ingredients in Malay curries are shrimp paste or fried shrimp or fried anchovies. Sri Lankan curries are lot spicier than other curries due to heavy use of chilies. You can see lot of similarities as well as differences in these curries.

This tangy gravy is made of coconut cream and flavored with tamarind, chili and curry powder. Caramelized onion and sautéed garlic gives a pungent flavor to this gravy. Fenugreek seeds help to cool down your body from extra heat created by garlic and chili. This spicy gravy is best to serve with rice or pittu (Popular Sri Lankan meal, it’s texture is like Israli couscous, but its made with red rice flour) or roti.

Print recipe here
Serves 4-6

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 Large onion diced
1 whole garlic head cloves, roughly chopped
1 large tomato, diced
1 large potato, cut into chunks (optional)
1 tsp of each fennel and mustard seeds
1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
Handful of curry leaves
2 tbsp curry powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp tamarind paste
2 tbsp low fat yoghurt (optional)
200ml coconut cream
500ml water
1 tsp garam masala


Heat oil in a large pan sauté onion till it’s translucent. Add garlic sauté for 2 more minutes. Stir in potatoes, tomatoes, mustard, fennel, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves. Sauté for a minute and add curry powder, chili powder, tamarind paste, tomato puree and yoghurt. Stir well for few minutes till spices form into a thick paste.

Add coconut cream and 500ml water stir well, close the lid cook for 5-10 minutes. When gravy starts to simmer, add garam masala and turn off heat.

Serve with rice or pittu or roti.

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This recipe is featured in Yummly Garlic recipes.


  1. Beautiful photos... interesting recipe...

  2. This is a very lovely recipe. I like how you gave a detailed description at the beginning.

    Thank You.

  3. This sounds so delicious! I really want to go to Southern India and eat everything, I love it all!!

  4. YUM! I am so glad I found your blog! Really enjoying it! Thanks for sharing!


  5. Thanks Christi, I'm glad you like my blog, your feedback is very much appreciated.

    Tc Abi

  6. Hi Natalie, typical south Indian lunch will be served in banana leaf, it's a colorful and flavorful spread with rice. something similar to this. check it out

  7. The curry has such a brilliant color that tells me it is a bowl of spicy goodness. I would love to have that with some warm rice!! You have a beautiful site and recipes:)

  8. Thanks Malli, yes it's an awesome combination to serve it with rice. yum....

  9. Thanks for sharing this recipe and the excellent background information. I now have a use for my tamarind that's been hanging around!

  10. Thanks Rachel tamarind is wonderful ingredient to enhance the taste of many gravies. Check out my eggplant curry recipe too. hope u'd like them...

  11. came here from tastespotting! loved the description you've given for Venthaya Kozhambu, cannot be more apt. Great recipe, expecially the addition of coconut cream to it.

  12. Thanks Manju


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