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Brown pachai sundakkai puli kuzhambu in a bowl with green turkey berry and red tomatoes heaped on top. Peppercorns, red chilies, turkey berry scattered around a white mortar pestle. Red silk fabric to one side
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5 from 1 vote

Pachai Sundakkai Puli Kuzhambu/ Sundakkai Kara Kuzhambu

Rustic tamarind based gravy from Tamizh Cuisine, with fresh sundakkai / turkey berries adding texture and flavour. Spicy with a delicious tartness, have it with hot rice and a poriyal/ sauteed vegetable curry.
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian, south indian, Tamilian
Keyword: kara kuzhambu, pachai sundakkai, puli kuzhambu, sundakkai kuzhambu
Servings: 2 people
Calories: 466kcal
Author: Sujata Shukla


For Tamarind Extract

  • 2 tablespoons Tamarind pulp 1 Indian lemon sized ball
  • 2 cups Water

For Spice/ Masala Paste

  • ½ tablespoon Gingelly Oil/ Til Oil or a mild flavoured vegetable oil such as sunflower oil
  • ¼ teaspoon Vendhayam seeds/ Methi seeds / Fenugreek seeds
  • ½ teaspoon Black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon Kothamalli vera/ Dhania seeds/ Coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Kadalai paruppu/ Channa dal / Split Bengal Gram lentils
  • ½ teaspoon Ulutham paruppu/ split urad dal/ split skinless black gram lentils
  • 4 Dry Red chilies
  • teaspoon Asafoetida powder / 1 pinch
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves 5-8 leaves
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons Water

Other Ingredients for Pachai Sundakkai Kuzhambu

  • ½ cup Sundakkai/ Turkey Berries /slightly crushed, rinsed, drained
  • 1 cup Onions / chopped small
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • ½ cup Tomato / chopped small
  • 2 tablespoons Gingelly Oil/ Til Oil or a mild flavoured vegetable oil such as sunflower oil
  • ½ teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • ½ teaspoon Jeera seeds/ Cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon Vendhayam seeds/ Methi seeds / Fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon Manjal podi/ Haldi / Turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Red chili powder
  • teaspoon Asafoetida powder / 1 pinch
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves 5-8 leaves
  • ½ teaspoon Salt /or to your taste



  • Soak the tamarind in water. I soak it in mildly warm water for 20 minutes if I have not soaked the tamarind an hour or so in advance, but not in boiling hot water. After soaking, squeeze the tamarind with your hand and extract the juice. Filter out any tamarind pulp/ fibre that remains.
  • Crush each sundakkai berry gently in a mortar and pestle so that a little of the skin splits, but without crushing it so much that it becomes shapeless or all the pulp gets out. Rinse the crushed berries briefly and set them to drain. Pat dry with a kitchen towel/ tissue before adding to the pan as in instructions below.
  • Peel and chop onion into small pieces. Peel the garlic and crush 2 cloves for the kuzhambu. Chop the tomato into small pieces.

To Make the Spice Paste/ Masala Paste

  • Heat the oil and add the items in the ingredients list for this paste, one after the other, sauteeing each for 3-5 seconds on low flame. First the methi seeds, to be sauteed till the colour darkens, then the pepper, then the dhania/ coriander seeds.
    Follow this with the paruppu (channa dal and urad dal), saute till they begin to darken but without letting them char/ burn. Add dry red chilies after removing the stalks, and then the hing/ asafoetida. If you prefer, saute them with the stalks and remove the stalks before grinding the paste.
    Shred the curry leaves and add (stand back a bit as the oil may spatter if the leaves are fresh). I usually shred the curry leaves so that there is more chance of their being consumed rather than discarded.
    Add the garlic cloves, saute for 10 seconds.
  • Remove the fried spices to a dry heat proof bowl, and once it is cool, grind to a paste with about 3 tablespoons of water.

To Make Pachai Sundakkai Kuzhambu

  • Heat a pan, add oil. Once the oil is hot (before it get smoking hot), reduce the flame. Add mustard seeds, let them burst. Add methi seeds, saute for 2 seconds or till they begin to darken in colour. Add jeera/ cumin seeds, saute for 2 seconds.
  • Add haldi/ turmeric powder, red chili powder, hing/ asafoetida powder and saute about 1 minute, till the raw smell reduces, stirring frequently so that the powders do not catch at the bottom of the pan.
  • Add shredded curry leaves. Stir.
    Add crushed garlic cloves. Stir and saute for 20 seconds.
    Add chopped onion. Saute for about 3 minutes on high, stirring frequently till the onions become translucent. Make sure they do not char.
    Add the chopped tomatoes, stir well, keeping the heat on high, for about 1 minute.
    Add the partly crushed, rinsed and dried sundakkai berries. Stir well, keeping on high for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the prepared masala paste, stir well.
    Add Tamarind extract. Add salt (always safer to add a little, boil, taste and then add a little more if required).
  • Bring the kuzhambu to a boil on high, then reduce to low heat and allow it to simmer till the volume of kuzhambu is reduced by about ⅓ to about 1.5 cups.
    Have it hot, with a poriyal and rice


Serving: 0.75cup | Calories: 466kcal | Carbohydrates: 67g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 20g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 619mg | Potassium: 595mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 1317IU | Vitamin C: 183mg | Calcium: 299mg | Iron: 16mg