Chettinad Thakkali Kulambu Recipe

Chettinad Thakkali Kulambu recipe
Chettinad Thakkali Kuzhambu Recipe is a spicy main dish that is served along with rice. It is made with very ripe standard tomatoes that gives the kulambu a very rich natural color and the tangy taste.

During one of the regular pondering with my MIL over what to make for lunch, this almost forgotten authentic Chettinad Tomato Kulambu recipe cropped up. I have not made this one in ages and glad that I finally found an opportunity. Though the ingredients used are very common, the method of making this gravy is very unique.

Thakkali Kulambu for Rice
My MIL learned this recipe from her neighbor who is of Chettinad Origin and passed it on to me. Though this kulambu is served along with rice in general, you can also serve this as a side dish for idli or dosas. The tangy taste of the tomatoes and the heat from the spices will be a treat to your senses and you can smell the aroma of the kulambu long after you have finished eating.

Chettinad Thakkali Kulambu

Chettinad Thakkali Kulambu Recipe

Prep time: 10 mins  |  Cook time: 25 mins  |  Serves: 4
Recipe Cuisine: South Indian  |  Recipe Category: Main

Chettinad Thakkali Kulambu Recipe


To be Ground to a smooth paste:


  1. Grind the ingredients mentioned under To be ground to a paste finely using little water and keep aside.Heat 2 tsp of oil in a wide pan. Add the sambar onions (shallots) and sauté till they become brown taking care not to burn them. Keep aside to cool. Grind it to a paste and keep aside.
  2. How to make Thakkali Kulambu
  3. Heat remaining oil in the same pan. Season with cumin seeds and cinnamon.
  4. When the aroma arises add very finely chopped garlic pods and sauté till they change color or almost roasted.How to prepare Thakkali Kulambu
  5. Add the ground coconut paste and sauté till the aroma arises for 3-4 mins over medium flame. Now add the onion paste and sauté for another 2 mins.
  6. Now add finely chopped tomatoes and salt and cook over moderate flame till the tomatoes become mushy.
  7. Add tamarind extract, mix well, close with a lid and let it cook for 7-10 mins over medium low flame. Add little water if you find the kulambu a bit thick. Mix in between to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.How to make Thakkali Kulambu for Rice
  8. Finally add Coriander leaves, Curry leaves, mix well and take off flame. Keep the pan closed with a lid for another 2-3 mins for the flavor of the leaves to get imbibed.
  9. Serve hot with rice with a generous dollop of ghee.

Chettinad Tomato Kulambu


  1. Use very ripe standard tomatoes (Naattu Thakkali) for a good taste and natural color.
    • Do not use hybrid tomatoes aka., Bangalore Thakkali to make this kulambu.
    • Adjust the amount of red chili powder according to your spice level and to the tangy level of the tomatoes.
    • You can also use regular onions if you do not have shallots but they won’t taste the same.
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