Chettinad Kaara Kulambu

Chettinad Kaara Kulambu


Despite having a host of finger licking dishes, Chettinad Cuisine is some how known only for its non-vegetarian dishes which I think is such a pity as almost all the preparations are not only easy to make but also  healthy and nutritive. Here is one such preparation which I make at least once a week for lunch and must in the lunch spread whenever there are any guests at home or during the festival times.



My MIL makes a mean thattapayaru (Black eyed peas) kulambu but the men in my family are not so enthusiastic of encountering sundals in kulambu. I made some sundal of these karamani on that particular when I made this kulambu to send in the kids snacks box and had some left over.  My MIL insisted that I add them in this kulambu and all got eaten without a murmur.


I never use store bought Kulambu powder but instead use a mix of home made red chilli, coriander and sambar powder to get the perfect taste. If you do mind then you can use the store bought powder itself.



Chettinad Kaara Kulambu

You’ll need:

Brinjal / Egg plants – 4

Drumsticks – 1

Dry Kaaramani / Thatta Payaru / Black eyed peas – 1/4 cup (optional)

Sambar onion / shallots – 10 to 15 nos

Garlic – 8 to 10 pods

Tomato – 1

Tamarind – small lemon size

Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

Sambar powder - 1 tsp (level)

Red chilli powder – 1 tsp (heaped)

Coriander powder – 2 tsp (heaped)

Curry leaf – 1 sprig

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp

Pepper corns (black) – 4

Salt – to taste

Sesame oil / Vegetable oil – 3 tbsp

To be ground to a paste:

Grated fresh coconut – 1/4 cup

Fennel seeds – 1 tsp

Poppy seeds / Khus-Khus – 1/2 tsp

Cashew nuts – 5




For the paste: Soak together cashew nuts and poppy seeds together in some warm water for 10 mins. Add the rest of the ingredients and grind to a smooth paste and keep it aside.


Preparation: If using, soak the karamani (Black eyed peas) overnight and pressure cook it with a for 2-3 whistles and keep aside. Soak the tamarind in some hot water and extract pulp. Slit brinjals length wise and keep it immersed in water. Cut the drumsticks into finger length size. Peel the skin of the sambar onions and garlic. Chop the tomatoes finely.


Heat a kadai with oil. Add the mustard seeds, when they splutter add the cumin seeds and pepper corn and roast for 3 sec. Add the sambar onions, garlic and sauté till the onions turn pink. Add the tomatoes, brinjals and drumstick and sauté well so that they are all coated with oil. Close with a lid and let them all in cook in their own steam and oil for 2-3 min. Mix in between once. By now the vegetables would have been 3/4th done.


Now add the tamarind extract, turmeric powder, sambar powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder, cooked karamani, curry leaf, salt and 1/4 cup of water and mix well. Let it come to a boil. Close with a lid and let it cook for 4-5 mins over medium flame. Check if the vegetables are fully cooked and done.


Now add the ground paste and adjust the thickness by adding more water if necessary and let it once again come to a boil and let it further cook for 2-3 mins. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with steaming hot rice mixed with a dash of ghee.





  • Using Sesame oil will enhance the flavor. But you can also use any vegetable oil.


  • For a richer experience you can add thick first coconut milk in the end before taking off the stove.


  • Use shallots instead of regular onions and use standard tomatoes instead of the hybrid variety for a good taste.


  • If using store bought Kulambu powder use 2 heaped tsp of it and avoid adding red chilli, coriander and sambar powder given in the ingredients.


  • Using cooked black eyed peas if optional.


  • Use rock salt always while making kulambu and sambar for a good taste.


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