Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu / Steamed Lentil balls cooked in tamarind gravy

Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu /Steamed lentil balls cooked in tamarind gravy – a classic & authentic kuzhambu variety in the South Indian cuisine. The highlight of this gravy variety is the addition of proteinaceous steamed lentil balls. The lentils are soaked, grounded, shaped into small size balls and are simmered in a spiced tamarind gravy. The lentil balls when simmered absorbs all the tangy and spicy flavours from the gravy. Relish this classic South Indian kuzhambu with steamed rice and a dash of ghee.

Preparation Time: 2 to 3 hours (for soaking the dhal)

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Serving: 3 – 4

Ingredients for preparing the lentil balls:

Toor dhal1 cup
Red chilli3 to 4
Turmeric powder1/4 th teaspoon
Hing / Asafoetida1/4 th teaspoon
Saltto taste
Oil (for tempering the kofta)1 to 2 teaspoon
Mustard seeds (for tempering)1/2 teaspoon
Curry leavesfew

Ingredients for Kuzhambu / Gravy:

Tamarindsmall gooseberry size
Green Chilli1
Tomato1 (small size)
Mustard seeds1 teaspoon
Methi seeds1/2 teaspoon
Hing / Asafoetida1/4 teaspoon
Turmeric powder1/2 teaspoon
Sambar powder1 1/2 to 2 teaspoon
Shredded coconut3 to 4 teaspoon
Saltto taste
Oil (regular)3 teaspoon
Coconut oil (optional)1 to 2 teaspoon
Curry leavesfew
Coriander leavesto garnish

Step by Step Instructions:

Part 1 – To prepare lentil balls:

  • Soak 1 cup toor dhal and 3-4 red chillies in water for 2 to 3 hours. Add 1/4 th teaspoon turmeric powder to the above before soaking. After 2 to 3 hours, drain the water completely, add salt and grind the mixture to a coarse paste using the pulse option. Do not add water while grinding. The consistency and texture of the paste should be in-between that of dosa-idli batter and adai batter.
  • Heat a pan and add 1 to 2 teaspoon oil. Add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds crackle, add hing and curry leaves. Add the ground paste and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes until the excess moisture is removed. Do not overcook the paste as this will harden the ground paste. Transfer this to a bowl.
  • Make medium size balls from the ground paste. The above measurements will give approximately 12 – 15 lentil balls.
  • Steam cook the lentil balls in a greased idli mold for 10 – 12 minutes.

Part 2 -To prepare kuzhambu / gravy:

  • Soak the tamarind in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes. Extract about 3 1/2 to 4 cups of tamarind juice.
  • Slit the green chilli lengthwise and finely chop the tomato.
  • Heat a kadai / pan, add 2 to 3 teaspoons of oil. Add mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds crackle, add methi seeds, curry leaves, 1 green chilli and hing. Sauté for 20 to 30 seconds or until the methi seeds slightly change colour. Add chopped tomato. Reduce the flame to low and close the pan with a lid. Stir the contents of the pan in-between. Cook until the tomatoes become mushy and soft.
  • Add the tamarind extract. Add turmeric powder, sambar powder and salt for the gravy. While adding salt, be mindful to add the right amount just for the gravy since the lentil balls already have salt.
  • Allow the kuzhambu / gravy to boil for 6 to 8 minutes until the raw smell of the sambar powder goes away.
  • When the kuzhambu comes to a boiling state, add the steam cooked lentil balls. Add the lentil balls one by one gently leaving 10 -15 seconds in-between.
  • Let the kuzhambu / gravy simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • While the kuzhambu is simmering, grind 3 to 4 teaspoons of shredded coconut with little water and make a paste.
  • Once the lentil balls are cooked, it will start floating on top. At this stage, add the ground coconut paste and cook for another 2 minutes. Do not overcook the gravy after adding the coconut paste.
  • Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of coconut oil if you prefer. Coconut oil enhances the flavour of the dish.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve this paruppu urundai kuzhambu with steamed rice.


  • For variation – For making the lentil balls, instead of 1 cup toor dhal, use 1 cup channa dhal or an equal mixture of toor dhal and channa dhal.
  • For variation – Add small onions and sauté them before adding the tomatoes.
  • Make the tamarind extract thin/ dilute. The lentil balls absorb the excess water and will make the gravy thick.
  • The amount of sambar powder required to spice up the gravy might differ depending on the spice level of your sambar powder. So adjust according to your preference.
  • If the gravy remains thin / diluted even after boiling with lentil balls, then add rice flour paste to thicken the gravy ( Add 2-3 teaspoon rice flour in a cup, add 1to 11/2 tablespoon water and make a paste). Add this paste towards the end and allow the kuzhambu to boil for 2 to 3 minutes.

Check out my other Kuzhambu varieties:


  1. Nice recipe Sowmya! We Bengalese make ‘dhokar dalna” with the chana dal in the same way. We fry them instead of steaming and then dunk it in a gravy. Thanks for sharing, I am certainly gonna try this recipe!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Wow Sowmya, first of all your presentation always awesomely attractive 👌 and the recipe is totally new n kind of a Keema curry. Looks yummy yummy n colorful in your picture perfect recipe 😋 👌 great share my dear.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks yummy, attractive pics and love the Thali presentation. Great recipe for a perfect protein rich gravy for vegetarians. Awesome job Sowmya!!

    Liked by 3 people

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