Poricha Kozhambu aka Poritha Kozhambu is a type of South Indian gravy that is had with rice. It is made using vegetables and lentils, cooked along with a freshly ground spice paste. The dish gets its name from the roasting of ingredients in a little oil (‘porikardhu‘ in Tamil), which are then ground together to make the spice paste.
This is a very nutritious dish, made with minimal oil and no artificial/processed ingredients. It is an absolutely delicious thing too, and makes for a lovely change from the usual rasam and sambar made in Tamilian households. It is a simple thing to put together as well.
Today, let me take you through our family recipe for Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu, i.e. poricha kozhambu made using drumsticks.
Tamilnadu cuisine has several delectable kozhambu varieties to offer. This Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu from my friend Kalyani’s blog is such a beauty – lentil fritters cooked in a tangy tamarind gravy. I’m so sorely tempted to make it too. Been ages since we had some!
Ingredients used – a closer look
There are a few different versions of Poricha Kozhambu made in Tamilnadu. The way this dish is made in my mother’s side of the family and my husband’s side is also different. The recipe I am sharing with you today is from mom’s side.
Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu includes drumsticks, of course – the kind that grow on trees and not the crispy, spiced ones that are sold in diners! Drumsticks aka moringa are well-known for the several health benefits they possess, including their being rich in antioxidants and their anti-inflammatory properties. Check out this article by Healthline to know more.
Another major ingredient of this kozhambu is moong dal, which is high in fiber, antioxidants, and protein. They also possess anti-inflammatory properties. In case you would like to read up more about this, I am linking to this article on Healthline on the health benefits of moong (mung) beans, from which moong dal is made.
Apart from the usual suspects like salt and turmeric powder, this Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu also contains a freshly ground spice paste. Urad dal, dry red chillies, and coconut are roasted in very little oil and ground together, to make this paste.
The kozhambu is given a simple tempering – mustard seeds sputtered in some sesame oil, along with asafoetida, curry leaves, and a couple of dry red chillies.
How is Poricha Kozhambu different from sambar?
While both Poricha Kozhambu and sambar refer to a gravy (a sort of stew) made using lentils and vegetables, the two are quite different. The ingredients used in both dishes are different, and so is the resultant flavour profile.
For starters, there is no tamarind used in Poricha Kozhambu (at least in this version), while it is an important constituent of sambar. The spice paste used in Poricha Kozhambu includes only three basic ingredients, whereas they are much more elaborate in case of Arachuvitta Sambar. This Poricha Kozhambu recipe uses moong dal, as opposed to the toor dal that is most commonly used in the making of sambar.
How to make Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu
Here is how to go about it.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
To roast and grind:
1. 2 tablespoons urad dal
2. 4 Bydagi dry red chillies
3. 2 Salem Gundu dry red chillies
4. 1/4 cup fresh coconut pieces
5. A few drops of sesame oil
1. 1 cup moong dal
2. 3 long drumsticks
3. Salt to taste
4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1. 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
3. 2 pinches of asafoetida
4. 2 dry red chillies
5. 2 sprigs of curry leaves
1. Wash the moong dal in running water, thoroughly. Drain out all the water from it.
2. Transfer the washed and drained moong dal to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the dal completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Allow 4 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure release naturally.
3. Meanwhile, we will prepare the spice paste that this dish requires. Heat a few drops of oil in a pan, then add in the urad dal, Bydagi and Salem Gundu dry red chillies. Turn the flame down to medium. Roast on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the lentils turn brown. At this stage, add in the coconut pieces and roast for a couple of seconds. Then, transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down completely. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn while roasting.
4. Remove the tops and ends from the drumsticks and chop them into 3-inch pieces. Keep aside.
5. Take the drumstick pieces in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in a little salt and turmeric powder, as well as 1 cup of water. Place on high flame.
6. When the water starts boiling, cover the pan with a lid. Reduce flame to medium. Let the drumsticks cook on medium flame for 6-7 minutes or till they are done. Check one drumstick piece for done-ness – you should be able to open it up easily and remove the flesh with your hands.
7. When the pressure from the cooker goes down completely, remove the cooked moong dal from it. Mash it thoroughly.
8. Once the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a small mixer jar. Grind everything together to a smooth paste with a little water.
9. When the drumsticks are done cooking, add the cooked and mashed moong dal to the pan. Also add the spice paste we ground earlier. Mix well.
10. Taste and adjust the salt. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder.
11. Add in about 1 cup water or as needed to adjust the consistency of the mixture. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the mixture thickens and all the ingredients are well incorporated together. Switch off gas.
12. Now we will temper the dish. Heat oil for tempering in a small pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add in the asafoetida, dry red chillies, and curry leaves. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds, ensuring that they do not burn. Add this tempering to the other pan. Mix well. Your Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu is ready. Keep covered for 7-10 minutes for the flavours of the tempering to seep into the dish, then it is ready to serve. Serve hot, with rice.
Is this a vegan and gluten-free recipe?
This is a completely vegetarian and vegan recipe, suited to those following a plant-based diet.
To make it gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most commercially available Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour, to a lesser or greater extent, and are thus best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet.
This is a no-onion, no-garlic recipe as well.
Tips & Tricks
1. There are a few different versions of Poricha Kozhambu. Some make it with toor dal, some with tamarind or tomatoes added to it. In some families, the ingredients used in making the spice paste are slightly different. Like I was saying earlier, this is the way Poricha Kozhambu is made in my mom’s side of the family. If you don’t like the idea of a kozhambu without sourness, I suppose you could add in some chopped tomatoes (after the drumsticks are cooked) and/or some tamarind extract (add this after the drumsticks are cooked, let it cook till the raw smell goes away) or lemon juice (add this at the very end, after the gas is switched off).
2. The moong dal should be well-cooked and soft. Ensure that it is completely cooked before adding it to the pan. For us, 4 whistles in the pressure cooker on high flame works perfectly fine, while this may vary from one household to the other.
3. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Poricha Kozhambu you require. It thickens up somewhat with time, so it is best to keep it runny.
4. I have used a mix of the spicy Salem Gundu dry red chillies and the not-so-hot Bydagi dry red chillies in the spice paste. You can adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.
5. I have used sesame oil (‘nalla ennai‘ in Tamil) here as it goes best in South Indian preparations like this one. However, you may use any variety of oil you prefer.
6. I have made this Poricha Kozhambu using drumsticks, but you may use any other vegetable instead. It is often made using a mix of vegetables (like carrot, potato, drumsticks, chayote aka chow chow or brinjal, and French beans/hyacinth beans). This dish can also be made using greens like moringa leaves (‘murunga keerai’ in Tamil), or fresh or sun-dried Turkey berries (‘sundakkai‘ in Tamil).
7. You may garnish the Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu with some finely chopped coriander if you like, but it is not strictly used in the traditional version.
Did you like this dish? Do tell me, in your comments!