A mild gravy made with churned buttermilk and coconut and subtly seasoned with ground cumin, ginger and green chillies. While the Tamils call this as Mor Kuzhambu, Keralites say puliseri, telugites call this majjiga pulusu and for Kannadigas, it is majjige huli. Ingredients and method of preparation for all of the above are almost alike with only slight variations.
It is quite common to make dishes with Curd/yoghurt/buttermilk throughout India. The traditional South Indian Mor Kuzhambu is an equivalent of the famous Indian ’Kadhi’ prepared in the remainder of the Indian states. While both are yoghurt based, the main difference is the thickener used in the gravy. The former is made of gram flour while the latter is made of coconut. As south India is close to the tropics, coconut is is extensively used in the cooking.
Another favourite of the Southerners is avial which has similar ingredients like mor Kuzhambu but is thicker in consistency and has a lot of veggies in it. It is mostly used as a side dish like poriyal, whereas mor Kuzhambu is mixed with rice and had as a main dish. Other dishes that have the same coconut and curd combination are mor kootu and mor sambhar.
The origin of mor kuzhambu remains unknown but one can safely assume that this might have happened out of necessity. For all intent and purposes, it is one of the best ways to use up the not-so-fresh surplus curd before it completely goes stale.
Different varieties of mor Kuzhambu
While most of the recipes are similar, the ground ingredients slightly differ in the ones made in Thirunelveli and Thanjavur regions. Thirunelveli mor Kuzhambu is white in colour and it has only coconut, cumin and chillies whereas the mor Kuzhambu from the thanjavur region has a beautiful golden hue and additional ingredients added to the ground mixture.
Any kuzhambu variety will have some chunks of vegetables in it. We call it is as 'thaan'. Any vegetable used in kuzhambu varieties are known as Thaan in some Tamil homes.
For morkuzhambu, vegetables like Okra, Ash gourd, green Pumpkin, Brinjal/ Aubergine, Colocasia ( sepankizhangu) are used in the preparation. One can also use dried berries like Manathakali (black night shade), Sundakkai vathal (turkey berry) etc as thaan.
Mor kuzhambu is a traditional South Indian yoghurt-coconut based curry. Simple, light and refreshing curry that is served with steaming white rice.
- 2 cups thick buttermilk, slightly sour
- Vegetables (radish, okra, ash gourd, pumpkin, colocasia) refer instructions section on how to use it
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt for taste
- ½ cup grated coconut
- 2 green chillies
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon raw rice refer notes
- 1 tablespoon toor dal (split yellow peas)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger (adjust more or less as per your taste preference)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil refer notes
- 4 to 5 curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon split urad dal ( split and husked black gram)
- ½ teaspoon asafoetida
Soak all the ingredients (except grated coconut) mentioned under "To grind" in water for about 10 minutes. Drain the water and grind it to a smooth paste along with coconut. Add very little water to grind. It should be a thick paste.
If you are using radish, ash gourd or pumpkin or potatoes (½ cup for the above mentioned recipe) : Peel and chop them in bite sized chunks. Cook them in boiling water for about 10 minutes or until they are tender. Add salt while cooking. Drain any excess water and keep them aside. Add this while cooking the kuzhambu.
For colocasia (about 10 small sized ones or 6-7 medium sized): You can either pressure cook for 2 whistles (indian pressure cooker) or about 10 minutes on high. If not, boil them on stove top until they become tender. Add salt while cooking and also half them if they are bigger. Drain any excess water and keep them aside. Add this while cooking the kuzhambu.
For Okra (½ cup finely chopped ): Heat 4 teaspoons oil in a small skillet, fry the okra until they become crispy. Add little salt at the end of frying. Mix okra only at the end after making the kuzhambu along with the tempering.
In a saucepan add buttermilk, turmeric powder, cooked veggies and ground paste. Simmer this until it starts foaming on the top. Immediately remove it from the heat. Do not cook this on high flame. Yogurt will curdle. (refer notes) Do not add salt to the kuzhambu now.
- In a pan heat coconut oil over medium heat and once it is hot, add the mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the curry leaves, urad dahl and once it starts browning turn off the heat and add turmeric powder and asafoetida.
- Pour this over the kuzhambu. Mix well.
Serve it warm (not hot) and add salt just before serving. (4)
- Addition of raw rice is to thicken the consistency. You can also use rice flour instead of raw rice.
- As this is a coconut based gravy, coconut oil enhances the flavour really well. But you can also use any neutral normal cooking oil.
- If you add salt while making kuzhambu, it will separate the water content from the yogurt and it makes the gravy thin and runny. Salt as the tendency to draw out water from substances.