Kale Thogayal| Tamilnadu Style Kale Chutney

I’m here today with the recipe for a very Tamilian dish using a very ‘foreign’ ingredient – Kale Thogayal or Chutney.

Kale, the superfood, and me

Kale is well known as a superfood, the world over. The leafy greens are believed to be packed with nutrition, including high amounts of fibre, Vitamin K, iron, potassium and calcium. The Internet is full of recipes using kale – everything from stir-fries and salads to pesto and chips. However, it is not all that common to come across kale in India. In Bangalore, you will occasionally find a few bunches of the veggie in a Namdhari’s or Spar outlet, and that’s about it. The local vegetable vendors have no clue about what it is, though some specialised farms like Mapletree do seem to be growing it.

Considering its rather sporadic availability, I don’t use much of kale in my kitchen. I would say it is a very new ingredient to me – I’m still learning about the different ways in which it can be used. Recently, when I found some really fresh kale in Simpli Namdhari’s, I had to pick it up. As I always do, I decided to make something very familiar, very Indian, to familiarise myself with it. Kale Thogayal is what I chose to make, and it was a huge hit with everyone at home.

A bit about Kale Thogayal

Kale comes in a few different varieties, either with straight or curly edges to the leaves. The type I used was one with straight-edged, dark green leaves, called Tuscan Kale or Lacinato Kale. It is also called Dinosaur Kale, because of the scaly pattern on the leaves.

Dinosaur Kale. You see what I mean?

Kale greens do have a slight bitterness to them, which almost disappears when you cook them. The tamarind and bit of jaggery I used in the thogayal also offset the bitterness beautifully. The result was this lovely-tasting Kale Thogayal that made for a great accompaniment to idlis, dosas and rotis alike.

This Kale Thogayal is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. It doesn’t contain any onion or garlic, and can be considered a Sattvik or Jain dish as well. The thogayal is entirely gluten-free, too.

How to make Kale Thogayal

Please find below the detailed steps in the making of the thogayal.

I’m sharing this recipe with the A-Z Recipe Challenge group that I’m part of. The challenge is hosted by Vidya of Masalachilli and Jolly of Homemade Recipes. Every month, the group members showcase recipes made from ingredients in alphabetical order. The letter for this month is K, and I chose ‘kale’ as my star ingredient.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup):
1. 1 medium-sized bunch of kale, roughly 2 heaped cups when chopped
2. A small piece of tamarind
3. 1 teaspoon oil
4. 1 tablespoon urad dal
5. 1 tablespoon chana dal
6. 3-4 dry red chillies
7. Salt to taste
8. 1/2 tablespoon of jaggery powder or to taste (optional)


1. Separate the kale leaves from the stems. Discard the hard, mature stems. The tender, soft stems can stay.

2. Wash the kale leaves thoroughly under running water, removing any traces of dirt from them. Place in a colander, letting all the water drain out. Pat dry with a cotton cloth, removing all the moisture from them.

3.Β Chop the kale finely. I had about 2 heaped cups of kale when chopped. Keep aside.

4. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water for 10-15 minutes, or till it gets soft.

5. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chana dal, urad dal and dry red chillies. Reduce the flame to medium. Roast these ingredients on medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or till they start turning brown and emitting a nice aroma. Stir intermittently, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down fully.

6. Add the chopped kale to the same pan. Cook on medium flame till the kale wilts and shrinks considerably in size, 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool down fully.

7. When the roasted ingredients have cooled down entirely, transfer them to a mixer jar. Add in salt to taste and jaggery powder (if using). Also, add in the softened tamarind, along with the little water it was soaked in. Add the cooled cooked kale to the mixer jar as well.

8. Grind all the ingredients in the mixer jar for a couple of seconds, adding in a little more water if needed. Stop and scrape down the sides of the mixer jar. Then, grind again for a couple of minutes, stopping again to scrape down the sides of the jar. Repeat this process till you get a nice chutney, with slightly coarse bits of lentils in it. That’s it – your Kale Thogayal is ready. Serve it with idlis, dosas or rotis as needed.

Tips & Tricks

1. You can use any variety of kale that you prefer.
2. Adjust the quantity of tamarind, salt, jaggery powder and dry red chillies as per personal taste preferences. I have used the spicy Salem Gundu dry red chillies here.
3. I prefer keeping the texture of the thogayal such that there are slightly coarse bits of lentils in it. You may grind it entirely smooth, if you prefer it that way.
4. Take care to ensure that the lentils and dry red chillies do not burn while roasting. Stir intermittently, and make sure you do the roasting on low-medium flame. Use a heavy-bottomed pan only.
5. Make sure the cooked ingredients have fully cooled down, before starting to grind the thogayal.
6. A few cloves of garlic, a small piece of ginger and/or some coconut can be added to the thogayal as well, for extra flavour. Here, I haven’t.
7. I have used sesame oil for the roasting, here. You may use any variety of oil you prefer.
8. You can also add a tempering of mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves to the thogayal. Here, I haven’t.
9. Make sure there are no seeds, strings or impurities in the tamarind, before proceeding to use it in the thogayal.Β 
10. Use very little water to grind the thogayal, that too only if required.
11. This Kale Thogayal stays well for 3-4 days when refrigerated in a clean, dry, air-tight box and used hygienically.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

37 thoughts on “Kale Thogayal| Tamilnadu Style Kale Chutney

  1. Kale is a slightly bitter leafy greens but so healthy. I get to enjoy them when I’m in Nairobi or Montreal as we get baby kale to add to salads. Using kale leaves to make a chutney sounds like a good idea. A good way to enjoy kale as a spread on sandwiches, parathas or even with rice.


    1. @mayurisjikoni

      The slight bitterness of kale is indeed offset in this chutney. However, since it contains lentils, I’m not sure if it would work well in sandwiches. It is definitely delicious, and goes very well with rice, rotis and parathas.

      Thank you. Glad you liked the recipe. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kale is healthy and it is really nice to see some Indian recipes made with it. I have also made Kale stir-fry in Brazilian style. Thogayal looks so nice too. I will give it a try.


  3. What an innovative usage of a leafy green like kale, which is quite unIndian in nature! We always like to Indianize any ingredient and this recipe is such a perfect example… Looks very tempting…


    1. @Rafeeda

      The first thing I try to do with any new ingredient is Indianise it – to make myself familiar with it. This is one such attempt, and it did turn out really well, even if I say so myself. πŸ™‚

      Thank you! Glad you liked the recipe!


  4. You have just south indianized the ubiquitous kale and it looks amazing! I can just imagine the flavors of tamarind and dals with a tinge of jaggery in this thogayal! Absolutely delicious looking dish!


  5. You are god sent Priya, I am serously never happy with chewing raw kale and so far experimented as a sandwich stirfry only which actually softened it. Now this for sure is a super duper winner. This is suh a keeper thatI really cannot thank you more


  6. Wow.. what an interesting way to use Kale. Having heard a lot about kale never got to try it out. I am sure it would have tasted so delicious. Would love to try it out sometime


  7. One of my best friends and classmate stays right behind Simpli naamdhaaris, so I know the area (that makes me soooo nostalgic :p) … what a cracker to make thogayal with Kale… Now I know that this is possibe, let me hunt for the not-so expensive variety to make this thuvyal… good one, priya…


  8. Best part about our cuisine is we can make thogayal out of anything we lay hands on, right? Love the vibrant green colour of the thogayal. Kale though slightly bitter, when combined with lentils, tamarind and a bit of jaggery makes a hearty accompaniment to steamed rice and sesame oil. The Kale batch looks quite fresh and glad you have found a shop that caters good stuff. Much needed for food bloggers so that more experiments can take place gladly in the kitchen.


    1. @Vidya Narayan

      I agree. We make thogayal out of just about everything. πŸ™‚

      Glad you liked the recipe. With the addition of tamarind, lentils and jaggery, the mild bitterness of kale completely disappears in the thogayal.

      I’m so happy to have discovered Simpli Namdhari’s. Loads of stuff there for us to experiment with. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Thogayal is a clever idea to incorporate kale in our diet. Loved the addition of jaggery and tamarind here, it must have mask the masked bitterness of kale. Lovely share Priya..


  10. Wow Priya, Kale chutney looks awesome. Never thought of chutney with kale because of its bitterness. Now here is a new method to make chutney. And you also made it more interesting way by adding tamarind and jaggery, a typical South Indian style. Thanks for the recipe.


  11. Kale and chutney sounds interesting ! Adding tamarind and jaggery must have covered the bitterness of kale. Good recipe for sides with starters and pita too. And yes Namdharis is one good option for some fresh produce, glad u find it near to your place.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s