Beetroot Vattalkozhambu| Beetroot Puli Kozhambu

Beetroot Vattalkozhambu is a flavourful gravy that is an integral part of Tamilnadu cuisine. It refers to beetroot cooked in tamarind, along with a few other spices, till it is silky-smooth and absolutely delicious. The beetroot adds a lovely mild sweetness to the dish, which is beautifully offset by the tamarind and spices in there, as well as a pretty colour.

Usually a great accompaniment to hot rice, Beetroot Vattalkozhambu is bliss when had with a drizzle of sesame oil. In my family, we love having it with curd rice too. I adore it as a side to hot steamed rice mixed with cooked and salted toor dal – rustic and oh so sastifying!

Let’s go through my family recipe for Beetroot Vattalkozhambu today.

Beetroot Vattalkozhambu or Puli Kozhambu

What Is Vattalkozhambu?

We will start with understanding what ‘kozhambu‘ is – it is a term used for a broad category of gravies, which can be paired with rice or with idlis, dosas and other ‘tiffin‘ items, usually made with tamarind or other souring agents like tomatoes. ‘Vattalkozhambu‘ is a type of kozhambu, a gravy that commonly has a tamarind base, which can be made using a variety of fresh or dried berries/greens/vegetables. Beetroot Vattalkozhambu, like I was saying earlier, is made using beetroots, which are cooked in a tamarind gravy, with some flavouring agents added in. It is also referred to as ‘Beetroot Puli Kozhambu‘ in some parts of Tamilnadu, ‘puli‘ being the local word for tamarind.

I have several other kozhambu recipes on my blog, which you might be interested in taking a look at:

What Goes Into Beetroot Vattalkozhambu – The Ingredients

Beetroot and tamarind are the two major ingredients used in this dish.

The dish is flavoured with sambar powder (I have used home-made) and some jaggery, in addition to the usual suspects like salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder.

I have used jaggery powder here, which is nothing but powdered jaggery. I prefer using jaggery powder in my daily cooking, as opposed to the jaggery that is sold in blocks. Jaggery powder is commonly available in several departmental stores here in Bangalore. There are many organic, zero-chemical small brands of jaggery available, and they work well for me in all the cooking that I do. I find jaggery powder very convenient to use, much more so than jaggery blocks which are sometimes quite sticky and have to be broken down into granules manually. But then, do what works for you!

There is a simple tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and fenugreek seeds in sesame oil. Sesame oil, referred to as ‘nalla ennai‘ in Tamil, is what is traditionally used in several foods from the state. This oil is not to be confused with the toasted sesame oil that is used in Asian dishes – the flavour profile of the two oils is completely different. I prefer using sesame oil from the Idhayam brand (not sponsored).

Rice flour has been used to thicken the gravy here, as is done traditionally. See the ‘Tips & Tricks’ section of this post for alternatives.

How To Make Beetroot Vattalkozhambu

Here’s how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

1. A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind

2. 1 medium-sized beetroot

3. 1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon sesame oil (nalla ennai)

4. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

5. 2 pinches of asafoetida

6. A pinch of fenugreek seeds

7. A sprig of curry leaves

8. Salt to taste

9. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

10. 1-1/2 tablespoons sambar powder or to taste

11. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste

12. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)

13. 1 tablespoon rice flour


Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Centre left and right: Steps 3 and 4, Bottom left and right: Steps 5 and 6

1. Soak the tamarind in about 1/2 cup of boiling hot water, for it to become soft. Let it cool down enough to handle.

2. In the meantime, wash the beetroot well to remove all traces of mud from it. Remove the top of the beetroot and chop it into quarters.

3. Take the chopped beetroot in a wide vessel, along with about 1 cup of water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker and put the whistle on. Allow 5 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure come down naturally.

4. While the pressure cooker is cooling, extract the juice from the soaked tamarind. Use water as needed. Keep the extract thick and not too watery. I had about 1-1/2 cups of tamarind extract.

5. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down completely, get the cooked beetroot out. Drain out all the water from it and reserve. Let the beetroot pieces cool down enough to handle.

6. Once the cooked beetroot has cooled down, remove the skin from the pieces and discard. Chop the beetroot into smaller cubes.

Top left and right; Steps 7 and 8, Centre left and right: Step 9, Bottom left and right: Steps 10 and 11

7. Heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Then add in the asafoetida, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves, and allow them to stay in for a few seconds.

8. Add the beetroot cubes to the pan. Saute for a minute.

9. Add in the tamarind extract, along with the turmeric powder and some salt. Mix well.

10. Cook on high flame for about 5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind has completely gone. Stir intermittently.

11. At this stage, add in the reserved water from cooking the beetroot. Mix well.

Top left and right, Centre left and right: Step 12, Bottom left and right: Steps 13 and 14

12. Taste and adjust salt. Also, add in the sambar powder, jaggery powder and red chilli powder (if needed). Mix well. At this stage, you may add in 1/2 to 1 cup more water if you wish to adjust the taste/consistency. Let everything cook together on medium flame for 4-5 minutes. Stir intermittently.

13. Make a slurry of the rice flour with about 2 tablespoons of water. Make sure there are no lumps. Add this slurry to the pan with one hand, constantly stirring with the other. Allow the mixture to cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes more or till it thickens and attains a silky consistency. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas at this stage.

14. Add in the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil at this stage. Mix well. Your Beetroot Vattalkozhambu is ready. Serve it hot/warm with rice.

Related Event: Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

This post is brought to you in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group of passionate food bloggers that I am part of.

The members of the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge share recipes based on a particular theme, every month. Participants are divided into pairs, and each pair secretly exchanges two ingredients, unknown to the rest of the group. Each member then uses their secret ingredients to cook a dish that fits into the theme for the month. Upon completion, they are required to post a picture of their dish in the group, and other members try to guess what the secret ingredients used in the food could be – therein lies the challenge. 🙂

The Shhh group had the theme ‘Cook Whatever You Like’ for the month of May 2023, a wonderfully elastic guideline that gave free rein to the participants to whip up anything they wanted, within the scope of the secret ingredients assigned to them. Renu, the versatile blogger at Cook With Renu. She prepared this yummy Besan Pithla for the theme – you guys must definitely check it out!

I was paired with Seema, fellow food blogger at Mildly Indian, for the theme. I suggested Seema make something with ‘coconut’ and ‘cumin seeds’, and she prepared this unique South Indian dish, Aviyal Kozhambu. She, in turn, assigned me the ingredients ‘curry leaves’ and ‘jaggery’, and they fit right into this Beetroot Vattalkozhambu that I had wanted to blog about for quite some time.

Dietary Guidelines

This Beetroot Vattalkozhambu recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

It contains beetroot (which is believed to have a high sugar content) as well as added jaggery, so you might want to exercise caution while serving this to a diabetic or to people with similar health conditions.

To make this recipe gluten-free, avoid using asafoetida in the tempering. Most branded asafoetida powders in India do contain wheat flour and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely go ahead and use it.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used home-made sambar powder here. You can use a store-bought version as well.

2. Using red chilli powder is optional. If the heat from the sambar powder is enough, you can skip the red chilli powder entirely.

3. Adjust the quantity of water you use depending upon the consistency of the Beetroot Vattalkozhambu that you require.

4. Remember to keep the tamarind extract on the thicker side and not too watery.

5. I have used a slurry of rice flour and water to thicken the Beetroot Vattalkozhambu, as it is done traditionally. Alternatively, a mix of wheat flour and water can be used. Avoid wheat flour if you wish to keep the recipe gluten-free.

6. Adjust the quantity of jaggery powder as per personal taste preferences.

7. I have pressure-cooked the beetroot before adding it to the pan. You can cook it in a pan separately as well. Make sure the beetroot is completely cooked before using it in making the Vattalkozhambu.

8. Make sure the flour-water slurry is completely free of lumps, before adding it to the pan. If this is not the case, there are chances of lumps forming in the Vattalkozhambu.

9. Make sure you add in the flour-water slurry while constantly stirring, otherwise lumps will form in the Vattalkozhambu.

10. Sesame oil (‘nalla ennai‘ in Tamil) goes best in this Beetroot Vattalkozhambu. However, if you do not prefer using it, you can use any other neutral-flavoured oil.

11. Do not skip the jaggery. There is only a small amount of jaggery used in this recipe, which does not make the vattalkozhambu overly sweet. Rather, it balances out the other flavours beautifully.

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


Easy Che Thai Recipe| Vietnamese Coconut & Fruit Dessert

Che Thai is a lovely dessert from Vietnam, made with coconut milk and a variety of fruits. Served chilled, this dessert tastes absolutely delicious!

In today’s blog post, I am going to share with you all a simplified version of the Che Thai, made using ingredients that aren’t very difficult to find in most Indian metros. This might not be an authentic recipe for Che Thai, mind you, but it is very easy to put together and just as delicious.

Vietnamese Che Thai – the cheat’s version, but delicious nonetheless!

Looking for other easy-to-make Asian recipes? Check out this Indonesian Nasi Kuning With Urap Urap Sayur| Malaysian Nasi Lemak| Thai Green Curry| Tom Yum Vegetable Soup| Vegetarian Pad Thai| Thai Sticky Rice With Mango| Burmese Khao Suey| Burmese Samusa Salad| Sri Lankan Seeni Sambol

Che Thai – The Ingredients I Have Used

Like I was saying earlier, Che Thai is made using coconut milk and several varieties of fruits. Authentic Che Thai also contains ‘rubies’ made using water chestnut, coloured red with food colouring (similar to the Thai Tub Tim Krob). as well as jelly made from fruits and herbs. Mine is an easier version of the Che Thai – a cheat’s version, if you wish to call it that – simpler to follow for those not very familiar with Vietnamese/Thai cooking, made with ingredients that are not difficult to find in urban India.

I have skipped the water chestnut ‘rubies’ and jelly in my version of Che Thai, which makes it a no-cook recipe. I have used summer-special fruits from my part of India (Bangalore) like ice apples (‘nungu‘ in Tamil), mangoes and jackfruit. Lychees and dragon fruit have also been added in, to impart a distinctly Asian fragrance and taste to the dessert.

For the sake of convenience, I have used store-bought coconut milk here, but you can make your own at home if you so prefer. All the fruits I have used here are fresh and not from cans. Powdered refined sugar is used to sweeten the coconut milk.

To, sort of, mimic the texture of jelly that is typically used in Che Thai, I have used popping boba pearls. Popping boba are small spheres with a gel covering and fruit juice inside. These little spheres pop in the mouth while eating them, filling your tastebuds with the flavours of fruit juice – they are quite delightful, indeed! Popping boba is quite easily available online – head to the ‘Tips & Tricks’ section of this post to find out the ingredient brands I have used here.

Easy Che Thai Recipe

Here’s how to go about preparing the easy-peasy cheat’s version of this beautiful Vietnamese dessert.

My recipe is based on this Sago Fruit At Gulaman, by my fellow food blogger Radha of Magical Ingredients.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

1. 250 ml thick coconut milk

2. About 4 tablespoons powdered sugar or to taste

3. 5 tablespoons fruit-flavoured popping boba (I used passionfruit flavour)

4. 2 big kernels of jackfruit

5. 2 ice apples

6. 4 lychees

7. 1/2 of a medium-sized ripe mango

8. 1/2 of a medium-sized dragon fruit


Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left, centre and right: Steps 4, 5 and 6

1. First, we will prep the fruit required for the dessert. De-seed the jackfruit kernels and lychees, and chop them up into bite-sized pieces. Peel the dragon fruit, mango and ice apple and chop these up finely too.

2. Take the coconut milk in a large mixing bowl. Add in the powdered sugar.

3. Add in about 5 tablespoons of the popping boba pearls along with some of the syrup that comes in the can.

4. Add in all the fruit that we prepped earlier.

5. Mix up all the ingredients well, gently. Your Che Thai is ready.

6. Chill the mixture, covered, in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours. Once chilled and ready, serve it in cups.

Dietary Guidelines

This is not the healthiest of desserts, considering the amount of added sugar that goes into it. Popping boba also usually contains preservatives. I would, therefore, recommend having this dessert in very small quantities, only occasionally.

This is a completely vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan dessert. Most popping boba is vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan; however, do read the labels carefully when you are purchasing it, in case you have dietary restrictions.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Stick to tropical fruits like mangoes, lychees, ice apples and dragon fruit. These are what gives Che Thai a distinct Asian aroma and taste.
  2. I have used ready-made coconut milk here, from a brand called Real Thai (not sponsored). You can make it at home too, but do make sure that it is thick and not too watery. You can use coconut cream instead, too, which will have a slightly thicker consistency.
  3. Adjust the quantity of sugar as per personal taste preferences.
  4. I would suggest using popping boba, which is filled with fruit juice, for this dessert as opposed to the regular plain boba pearls. Popping boba are available in a variety of fruit flavours, and you can choose any that you like. I have used passionfruit-flavoured popping boba from a brand called The Bubble Tea Store (not sponsored). Popping boba is easily available online, on platforms like Amazon.
  5. Popping boba usually comes in a can which has some syrup. Use the boba pearls along with the syrup, while making this Che Thai recipe. Remember that this syrup has added sugar, so adjust the quantity of powdered sugar accordingly.
  6. I have used fresh fruit here. You can use canned fruit, in case accessibility is a problem.
  7. Be careful while adding fruits like oranges and pineapple to Che Thai. These fruits can, sometimes, cause the dessert to turn bitter if left standing for a while.
  8. If you are preparing the Che Thai more than a few hours before serving, it would be a good idea to just sweeten the coconut milk with powdered sugar and chill it. The boba and chopped fruits can be added just before serving, as the fruit tends to lose taste if the dessert is kept standing for a long time.

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

Aloo Raita| Potato Raita

Aloo Raita refers to a condiment made with potatoes and curd, with a few spices added in. This might feel like a weird combination of ingredients to some but, let me tell you, it tastes absolutely lovely!

All of us in our family are big fans of raita. Come summer, and raita of different sorts begin to make an appearance on our lunch table more frequently than ever. They are super cooling and very refreshing, after all.

Aloo Raita is a relatively lesser known variety of the dish. It goes very well as a side with rotis and pulav/biryani. Let’s see how to prepare it, the way it is done in my family!

Aloo Raita| Potato Raita

But first, what is a raita?

Raita‘, for the uninitiated, means a side dish prepared with different fruits and/or vegetables and curd, an integral part of Indian meals.

There are a vast number of raita prepared across the length and breadth of India, with variations from one place to another. Check out the recipes for Boondi Raita, Methi Raita and Dangar Pachadi (a forgotten Urad Dal Raita from Tamilnadu) on my blog.

What is called ‘raita‘ in most of the northern parts of India becomes ‘Thayir Pachadi‘ in Tamilnadu and ‘Mosaru Oggarne‘ in Karnataka. The ‘Arachu Kalakki‘ of Kerala, ‘Dahi Ki Chutney‘ of Andhra Pradesh, and ‘Kichadi‘ of Kerala are also types of raita.

Like I was saying earier, Aloo Raita is a comparatively lesser known type of raita.

Ingredients used in Aloo Raita

Potatoes and curd are the two major ingredients used in Aloo Raita. Potatoes are cooked first, then peeled and chopped, after which they are mixed into whisked curd.

Apart from regular table salt, some roasted cumin (jeera) powder, red chilli powder, black salt and powdered sugar are also used in this raita, for flavour.

The tempering for this Aloo Raita is simple – just some mustard seeds and asafoetida in oil.

Finely chopped fresh coriander is used to garnish the raita.

How to make Aloo Raita

Please find the detailed proceedure below.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Below top right and bottom right: Steps 4 and 5, Bottom centre and left: Steps 6 and 7

Ingredients (serves 2-4):

1. 2 medium-sized potatoes

2. 1/4 teaspoon black salt

3. Salt to taste

4. Red chilli powder to taste

5. 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin (jeera) powder

6. 3/4 teaspoon powdered sugar

7. 1 cup thick curd

8. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander

9. 1/2 tablespoon oil

10. 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

11. 2 pinches of asafoetida


1. Wash the potatoes well under running water, to remove all the dirt from them. Cut them into halves and transfer them to a wide vessel. Add in enough water to cover the potatoes fully. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 2 whistles. Let the pressure come down naturally.

2. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the potatoes out. Drain out all the water. Let the potatoes cool down fully, then peel and chop them into cubes. Take the potato cubes in a large mixing bowl.

3. To the potatoes, add black salt, salt, red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder and powdered sugar. Mix gently to ensure that all the potato pieces are evenly coated in the spice powders.

4. Whisk the curd along with a little water, to make it smooth.

5. Add the whisked curd to the potatoes in the mixing bowl.

6. Add in the finely chopped coriander.

7. Now, we will prepare the tempering. Heat the oil in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Then add in the asafoetida and switch off the gas. Add this tempering to the mixing bowl. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl gently. Your Aloo Raita is ready to serve.

Dietary guidelines

This Aloo Raita recipe is completely vegetarian. There is a small amount of oil and powdered sugar used here.

This raita is free of onion and garlic.

It is not vegan because of the use of dairy-based curd and, hence, not suitable to those following a plant-based diet. I think you could make this with plant-based curd as well, though I have not tried that out.

To make this dish gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, so it is best to avoid them when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, do go ahead and use it.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use curd that is slightly sour, but not overly so, for best results.

2. Adjust the quantity of water depending upon the consistency of the raita that you require.

3. Adjust the quantities of red chilli powder, salt, powdered sugar and roasted cumin powder as per personal taste preferences.

4. Do not overcook the potatoes. They should be cooked through but not overly mushy.

5. Do not skip the sugar. It adds a lovely flavour to the raita.

6. You can crumble the cooked potatoes and add them to the raita too. I prefer chopping them into cubes, the way I have done here.

7. This Aloo Raita is best made fresh and consumed immediately after preparation.

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

Apple Kachumbar| Indian Apple Salad

Apple Kachumbar is a spin on the regular kachumbar salad that is typically a part of Gujarati thalis. The fruits added to this version add freshness to the salad, at the same time making it incredibly colourful, pretty and flavourful.

This salad came about, some time ago, because I happened to have a few green apples lying around at home, thanks to the bub. The bub has this habit of adding any new veggies or fruits she comes across to my basket while shopping – almost always, she never eats them and I end up trying to figure out innovative ways to use them up. 🙂 It polishes my recipe development skills, for sure, and many of these ‘trials’ have gone on to become favourites at home.

So, here’s presenting Apple Kachumbar, a delicious salad that has now become an almost weekly fixture at our dining table. It is just the perfect summer salad, I say.

Apple Kachumbar or Indian Apple Salad

Apple Kachumbar – Ingredients Used

Apple salad is mostly made with cheese and walnuts/almonds, but this kachumbar is different. It is big on Indian flavours!

I like using green apples in Apple Kachumbar, fresh and juicy ones that are a good mix of tart and sweet. I also add in some pomegranate arils, apart from the usual suspects in a kachumbar like cucumber, coriander, carrot and onion.

The Apple Kachumbar is flavoured with salt, roasted cumin powder, a dash of lemon juice, red chilli powder and a bit of jaggery powder. It’s an explosion of tastes, honestly.

How to make Apple Kachumbar| Indian Apple Salad

Making Apple Kachumbar is incredibly easy. It takes just a few minutes to whip it up, once you have the ingredients prepped and ready.

Here’s how to put the salad together.

Ingredients (serves 2):

1. 1 medium-sized green apple

2. Juice from 1/2 lemon or to taste

3. 1 small cucumber

4. 1 small onion

5. Arils from a small pomegranate

6. 1 small carrot

7. A handful of fresh coriander

8. Salt to taste

9. 1/4 teaspoon red chilli powder

10. 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin (jeera) powder

11. 3/4 teaspoon jaggery powder or to taste


Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left, centre and right: Steps 4, 5 and 6

1. Cut the green apple and remove the core. Chop finely. Transfer the chopped apple to a large mixing bowl.

2. Add a dash of lemon juice to the apple and mix well. This will stop the apple pieces from getting brown.

3. Chop the cucumber and onion finely and add to the mixing bowl. Add the pomegranate arils too.

4. Peel the carrot and grate it medium-thick. Chop the coriander finely. Add these to the mixing bowl as well.

5. Add in salt to taste, red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder and jaggery powder. Mix well.

6. Taste and adjust the lemon juice as needed. Mix up all the ingredients well. Your Apple Kachumbar is ready. Serve immediately.

Dietary guidelines

This Apple Kachumbar recipe is completely vegetarian.

It is also vegan, suitable to people following a plant-based diet.

It is gluten-free as well.

There is no oil used in this salad, but there is a small amount of jaggery powder included. You may omit the jaggery powder in case you have dietary restrictions – check the Tips and Tricks section of this post for details.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used a nice, juicy green apple here. If you don’t have one, you can use a red apple instead. Use a crisp variety of apple that is a good mix of sweet and sour, like Royal Gala or Pink Lady.

2. Sometimes, apples tend to be quite sour. In that case, adjust the quantity of lemon juice and jaggery powder accordingly. You may omit the jaggery powder altogether if the apple is not too sour.

3. Jaggery powder is nothing but powdered jaggery, which is commonly available in several departmental stores here in Bangalore. Alternatively, you could use powdered sugar. Honey can also be used as a substitute for the jaggery – however, avoid this if you would like to make the salad vegan.

4. Adjust the quantity of red chilli powder and salt as per personal taste preferences. You can add a dash of chaat masala and/or black salt too, which will make the salad taste more like a chaat. Green chillies can be used in place of the red chilli powder, but I prefer the latter.

5. Use the freshest of ingredients in the salad, for the best texture and taste.

6. I have not peeled the apple and cucumber here. You may do so if you prefer it that way, but I personally think that keeping the skin on adds a beautiful texture to the salad.

7. To make the roasted cumin powder – dry roast a handful of cumin seeds on a hot pan, on medium flame, till they get nice and fragrant. Make sure they do not get burnt. When done, transfer them to a plate and allow them to cool down completely. Then, grind the cumin seeds coarsely in a small mixer jar. I make this roasted cumin powder periodically in small batches, store it in a dry air-tight bottle, and use it as needed.

8. You may add other fruits and vegetables of your preference to this Apple Kachumbar. Tomatoes and seedless grapes would make great additions, for instance. We prefer adding only the ingredients in the recipe mentioned above.

9. Use a cucumber with very few seeds, for best results. This kind of cucumber is also referred to as ‘English cucumber’ or ‘seedless cucumber’ in local parlance.

10. Do make sure you serve the Apple Kachumbar immediately after preparing it. The apples tend to darken slightly if you keep the salad lying around for some time.

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

Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki| Amla Raita

Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki is a unique dish made using gooseberries (amla) and curd, from the city of Palakkad in Kerala. It is a side dish which is the specialty of the Palakkad Iyers residing in this region. I learnt this recipe from my mother-in-law and, in today’s post, am going to share with you all how to go about making it.

This is a simple but beautiful dish, though I must say the taste takes a little getting used to. My husband and I adore it! I love relishing it with tiffin items like dosa or upma, while the husband likes having it with plain, hot rice. It can also be served as part of an elaborate meal, especially along with other Palakkad Iyer specials like Molagootal and Poduthuval.

Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki or Amla Raita

Arachu Kalakki trivia

Arachu Kalakki‘ is a classic Palakkad Iyer dish, which can be made using a few different types of fruits and vegetables. Gooseberries, elephant-foot yam (‘suran‘ in Hindi, ‘senaikizhangu‘ in Tamil), and raw mango are the most commonly used.

‘Arachu Kalakki‘ is Palakkad Tamil for ‘grind and mix’, which is exactly how this dish is prepared. The preparation of arachu kalakki involves very little cooking, which makes it the perfect side dish for the hot months of summer – you don’t have to stand in front of the gas stove for long hours, cooking. It is delicious, super cooling and refreshing too!

Either fresh or preserved fruits/vegetables can be used to make arachu kalakki. In traditional Palakkad homes, seasonal fruits like gooseberries and small raw mangoes are preserved in salted water (brine) – they stay well for a long time when stored this way, and can be used as needed. My mother-in-law sometimes uses gooseberries preserved in brine to make Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki, but I almost always use the raw ones whenever they are readily available in the markets.

Ingredients used in Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki

So, the gooseberries (preserved or fresh) are ground to a slightly coarse puree, along with coconut and green chillies, and mixed with curd to make Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki. If you are using fresh gooseberries, they need to be cooked before using them, while the preserved ones can be used as is. This arachu kalakki is full of the natural goodness of gooseberries, whichever way you use them.

A simple tempering of mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves in coconut oil is added to the Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki, once it is ready.

This method of preparation is similar to the making of raita. It would, therefore, not be wrong to call Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki as Nelikkai Thayir Pachadi (Tamil for ‘Amla Raita‘).

How to make Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki

Different families have their own little touches in the making of arachu kalakki, but the base ingredients remain more or less the same. Here’s how I make the Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki, a la my mother-in-law.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

1. 4 medium-sized gooseberries (amla)

2. 1/4 cup fresh coconut slivers

3. 2 green chillies or as per taste

4. 1-1/2 cups fresh thick curd or as per taste

5. Salt to taste

To temper:

1. 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil

2. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

3. 2 pinches of asafoetida

4. A sprig of curry leaves


Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left: Step 4, Bottom centre and right: Step 5

1. Wash the gooseberries well under running water. Pat dry using a cotton cloth.

2. Place the gooseberries in a wide vessel. Do not add in any water. Take about a cup of water in a pressure cooker bottom and place it on a high flame. Place the vessel with the gooseberries inside the pressure cooker. Close the cooker and put the whistle on. Allow the gooseberries to cook on high flame for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, open it and get the gooseberries out. Allow them to cool down enough to handle.

4. When the gooseberries have completely cooled down, press them gently and separate the segments. The segments will get separated very easily. Remove and discard the seed.

5. Place the gooseberry segments in a mixer jar. Add in the coconut slivers. Chop up the green chillies roughly and add them to the mixer jar too. Grind everything together to an almost smooth puree, using a little water.

Top left and right: Step 6, Bottom right: Step 7, Bottom left: Step 8

6. Take the gooseberry puree in a large mixing bowl. Add in the curd and salt to taste. Add about 1/2 cup water or as needed.

7. Mix everything up well.

8. Now, we will prepare the tempering. Heat the oil in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Then, add in the asafoetida and curry leaves. Allow them to stay in for a couple of seconds. Pour the tempering into the gooseberry-curd mixture. Mix well. Your Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki is ready – serve it as an accompaniment to rice/upma/dosas or as part of an elaborate meal spread.

Dietary guidelines

This dish is completely vegetarian, made using very little oil.

It is NOT vegan because of the use of dairy-based curd. You could try making it using vegan (plant-based) curd, but I have never tried that out.

To make this Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki gluten-free, skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. If you do find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, however, you can definitely go ahead and use it.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use fresh gooseberries (amla), which are firm and without any blemishes.

2. You can use amla that has been soaked in brine, as is commonly done in many parts of India. In case the amla has soaked well and is quite soft, you can grind it as is – there’s no need to cook it. In this case, you would need to be cautious while adding salt as the amla would be a bit salty anyways.

3. Do not add any water to the amla while pressure-cooking it. 4 whistles in the pressure cooker, and it’s perfectly done – not overcooked, just right.

4. Adjust the quantity of green chillies, salt and coconut as per personal taste preferences.

5. For best results, use fresh curd that is not very sour.

6. Adjust the amount of water you use depending upon the consistency of the Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki that you require. It is supposed to be thick but not overly so, runny but not too watery.

7. You may add a small piece of ginger while grinding the cooked gooseberries, coconut and green chillies. I usually don’t do so.

8. Use coconut oil for the tempering – it adds a beautiful flavour to the Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki.

9. Do not grind the gooseberries, coconut and green chillies too finely. Let the puree be slightly coarse, for best results.

10. This Nelikkai Arachu Kalakki is best prepared and consumed fresh. However, any leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator in a clean, dry, air-tight refrigerator for a day.

Looking for other recipes using gooseberries?

Check out these posts on my blog:

Arinelikkai Thokku| Instant Star Gooseberry Pickle

Nelikkai Urugai| Spicy Gooseberry Pickle

Nelikkai Sadam| Gooseberry Rice

Nelikkai Sweet Urugai| Sweet Gooseberry Pickle

Gajar Amla Salad| Tangy Carrot Salad With Gooseberry

I’m hugely intrigued by this Nellikai (gooseberry) Chutney Pudi from my friend Preethi’s recipe blog too – can’t wait to try it out!

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