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Recipe: Steamed Lentils In Tamarind Gravy

June 03, 2022 18:58 IST
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This delicately flavoured Tamil coconut-based curry by Prasanna Pandarinathan contains steamed balls of channa dal or Bengal gram.

Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu or Steamed Lentils In Tamarind Gravy can be served freshly cooked with steamed rice or chapattis.


Photograph: Kind courtesy Prasanna Pandarinathan

Steamed Lentil Balls In Tamarind Gravy

Serves: 4-6


  • 2 tsp oil
  • ¼ kg channa dal or Bengal gram
  • ½ tsp haldi or turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp chilly powder
  • 2 cups water
  • Few laung or cloves
  • Few green elaichi or cardamom
  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 green chillies, slit
  • 1½ tbsp dhania or coriander powder
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp imli or tamarind paste (please see note below)
  • Few green dhania or coriander or cilantro leaves
  • Few curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Tomato or chilly sauce, to serve


  • Soak the Bengal gram in hot water for 30 minutes.
    Drain the water and then grind to a paste in a mixer without adding water.
    Add salt and mix well.
    Roll into small lemon-sized balls and steam in a steamer (an idli steamer will do).
  • Grind the grated coconut to a smooth paste using just a little water.
    Keep aside.
  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan add the oil.
    Fry the onions, curry leaves, green chillies,  tomato, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, chilly, coriander powder.
    Add the water, coconut paste, imli.
    Boil for about 10 minutes and then simmer till the gravy is semi-thick.
    Add the steamed balls and cook for another 10 minutes.
    Garnish with the coriander leaves.
    Serve hot with tomato or chilly sauce.

Note: Ideally for a traditional Tamil curry one should use the much darker South Indian pulli imli used for curries. Soak a lime-sized ball of it and add the water to the curry at the same time as the coconut.

Steamed Lentils in Tamarind Gravy pairs well with Prasanna Pandarinathan's Chicken Curry.

For more recipes from Prasanna Pandarinathan, please click here.

Excerpted from Ammi by Prasanna Pandarinathan with kind permission from the publishers Rupa Publications India.

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