Vatha Kulambu | Vatha Kuzhambu | Manathakkali Vathal Kulambu


Vathal kulambu is a simple tangy and delightful gravy made with small onions cooked in tamarind water which is spiced with other ingredients like sambar powder, coconut milk and other spices. It is an authentic south Indian dish where vathals (sun dried vegetables) are cooked in tangy, spicy lentil gravy. Vathals is the Tamil word for sun dried vegetables or berries. The veggies or berries are soaked in buttermilk for some hours and later sun dried. Turkey berry in English is commonly known as Bhankatiya, katai in Hindi, Usthikaya in Telugu. Manathakkali is the Tamil word for black nightshade berries. These are also called as makoy in hindi language. The taste of this vathal kulambu is complex. you can get to have sour, bitter, spiced, salty and caustic taste in the curry. So, its best served with some steamed rice where the flavours do get softened a bit. After adding sambar powder, it should be fried in oil so that it releases its flavours. Using garlic and sambar powder enhances the taste of the dish and mustard and fenugreek seeds gives a terrific aroma and coconut milk thickness to the gravy. These dried berries can be fried with very little oil and served with curd rice or rasam-rice. This vathal kulambu recipe and method gives you a really tasty recipe.

Watch Vathal kulambu recipe in Tamil

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Vatha Kulambu | Vatha Kuzhambu | Manathakkali Vathal Kulambu

Difficulty: Beginner Prep Time 15 min Cook Time 20 min Total Time 35 mins
Servings: 5
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year


How to make Vatha Kulambu Recipe

  1. Heat clay pot with 2 tbsp. of gingelly oil.

  2. Add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and sundried seasoning balls (Kari vadagam). Allow to splutters and change in golden color.

  3. Add few curry leaves.

  4. Add dried turkey berry and Sun dried Black Nightshade.

  5. Fry them in oil till change in color.

  6. Add whole garlic cloves sauté them until turn to little golden color.

  7. Add chopped small onions and sauté until turn to translucent.

  8. Add homemade sambar powder, stir for a minute in oil itself to raw smell goes off.

  9. Add red chili powder and toss well.

  10. Add tamarind extract from small lemon sized lemon with 1 cup of water.

  11. Add required water and mix well.

  12. Allow to boil in medium flame until it become little thick and oil get separates from kulambu.

  13. To prepare coconut paste, in a mixie jar add grated coconut, cumin seeds, one small onion, first grind in to coarse mixture then add 1/4 cup of water to make fine smooth paste.

  14. Transfer this in to strainer, and strain completely coconut milk from the ground mixture.

  15. Add coconut milk extract in to thickened sun dried vegetables spicy gravy.

  16. Mix well and allow to boil for a minute and switch of the flame.

  17. Garnish with chopped curry leaves.


  • Use dark tamarind or old tamarind as it gives a lovely deep sour taste
  • Use sesame oil (gingelly oil) which is cold pressed oil made from raw sesame seeds.
  • If you don’t have Kari vadagam add some cumin seeds while seasoning.
  • If you don't have sambar powder add red chilli powder, coriander powder and cumin powder.
  • If you don’t want to add coconut milk add bit of jaggery can also be added to balance the sourness and bitterness.
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Gomathi Ramesh

Food Blogger

Hi there! I am Gomathi Ramesh, a full-time food blogger, mother of 2 beautiful daughters and a lovely wife. I come from a family of fantastic cooks and I’m here to share generations of recipes that are homey, fresh, healthy, family-friendly, authentic, and adventurous. Most importantly, our recipes taste great and you can trust that they actually work.

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