Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Chenai / Senai kizhangu pulikuzhambu / yam in tamarind based gravy

Back again with another pulikuzhambu :). I hope most of you know about this senai kizhangu. In english it is called as yam but there are several varieties of yam. Yam is a common name for starchy tubers of the family dioscorea. I have seen some varieties of yam that are unique to Africa and  Srilanka. The picture above shows an Indian variety yam. Yams are high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, pottasium and manganese. Yam products generally have lower glycenic index than potato products. 

My mom prepares it in a  very tasty way. She uses fried coconut for making this dish. In Kerala they call it as 'theeyal'.  Wikipedia says theeyal can be literally translated as 'burnt dish'. Coconut is fried or 'burnt' until it acquires a dark brown colour and hence the name 'theeyal'.  Look at the colour of this dish. Beautiful rich brown colour right? This colour is obtained by adding fried coconut and tamarind juice. Tastewise nothing can compete with it.. If you crave for 'meen kuzhambu' (fish curry) and you have only this senai kizhangu, do not worry. This dish tastes like meen kuzhambu minus the fish smell. The next day of preparation this dish will be extra yummy. You can have this with hot rice. It goes very well with idly and dosa too.

Ingredients :

Senai kizhangu - 1/4 kg
Tamarind- size of a small lemon (soaked in warm water and juice extracted)
Coconut scrappings- 4 tbspns ( dried ones are also OK)
Dried red chilli- 8 nos (be careful, adjust according to your taste)
Onion- 1 no
Tomato- 1 no
Curry leaves- some 30-40 leaflets
Coriander powder- 2 tbspns
Turmeric powder- a pinch
Asafoetida- a pinch
Fenugreek seeds-1 tspn
Jeera and mustard seeds- 1 tspn each
Oil- 4 tbspns (preferably seasame oil)
Salt to taste

Method : 

Cut onions and tomato into small pieces. Soak the tamarind in warm water and extract juice. Fry coconut scrappings and red chilli in medium heat until the coconut scrappings become dark brown. The smell of fried coconut will be very nice and inviting. Then grind the fried coconut and red chilli into a smooth paste in your food processor. Heat a pan. Add oil and when the oil is hot enough add the fenugreek seeds. When they become brown and emit a nice aroma, add mustard and jeera seeds. When they splutter add onions, tomato, turmeric and asafoetida powder. Saute well until the onions turn translucent. Now add coriander powder and the ground coconut, red chilli paste. Mix well. Add tamarind water and allow the mixture to boil. When it boils simmer it for 15 minutes until the oil seperates out. Add salt only at the end of preparation. A very tasty puli kuzhambu will be ready.

Taste enhancing tips for this recipe : The nature of senai kizhangu is very important. You should be lucky enough to get a good variety tuber which cooks well. Sometimes you end up with senai kizhangu which is very watery in nature. So they will never become soft. They will remain crispy how much you cook.  Add salt only after the yam is cooked. Add enough salt and chilli to balance the sourness of the tamarind. Happy cooking !!!


  1. Manju, I would like to have this with Papad and steamed rice. Pass it to me.

  2. Manju very nice puli kulambhu,,nalla seithurukeenga enakku intha veggie inga kidaikathu paa enakku ithula chops seitha rombha pidikkum en amma seivanga super ah irukkum..Puli kulambhu nalla curry leaves ellam poettu nalla irukku paarkave.

  3. Nice gravy,didnt eat yam for a long time and this looks very tempting...

  4. Manju, that looks super delicious...feel like having some with rice...nice recipe...

  5. Puli kuzumbu looks so spicy and very inviting....love your pictures this is my husband's favorite :)

  6. manju..another puli kuzhambu..i hardly buy the chena..here we can find the frozen one.if i buy sure will try this delicious curry yarr..yuumy kuzhambu..good with rice..Ya dear it will be more tasty in the next day..taste like fish kuzhambu loved it..nice picture.

  7. Love the click, very tempting picture !!!

  8. Yummy Yam in attractive colored puli kuzhmabu.

  9. Manju, Picture superb :) best combination for this would be sutta appalam. Try panni paaru :)

  10. Manju,

    Chena puli kuzhambu looks really nice. Here only frozen chena we get not the fresh one. I love them in curries.

  11. Yennaku romba pidicha kuzhambu ithuvum onnu, just love it...wat a droolworthy gravy..superb Manju..

  12. Such a rich and vibrant gravy .Looks delicious.

  13. Chena is something we dont get much in the U.S. Its called suran and when I go to India I ask only for chena curry or masiyal. The puli kuzhambu is new to me, I remember tasting something similar with kabuli channa in it. I would have loved to eat this puli kozhambu with some rice.

  14. Oh Dear! this is one of my fav...looks mouth watering.

  15. Thank you friends...I got it from a Srilankans run grocery shop.
    Sathya, romba correct. Fry kooda supera irukum aana nalla kizhanga irukanum.
    Anu, actually I had it with tha same side-dish you mentioned. I make sutta appalam using oven.
    Srimathi, Try it. It tastes very good in pulikuzhambu too. True kabuli channa can be done using the same method.

  16. love this gravy with rice and Papad ...
    its a full and complete meal ...loved it my mom also prepare the same way manju
    first time here you have a lovely space with gr8 dishes dear ..will keep visiting ..

  17. Hy Dear,

    First time here...wonderful collection of healthy recipes you have...I can't beleive how I missed your blog this much time...glad to follow u ...
    will be visiting here often.

    kuzhambu looks so spicy n delicious...just love to taste it.
    do drop in at my blog sometime.

  18. Thanks for dropping in my bolg and lovely comments.U have wonderful collection of healthy recipes .... glad to follow u...keep blogging

  19. Manju, this is such a delicious theeyal recipe...its bit hard to find this native elephant yam here. Yours look absolutely delicious. You really make me crave for home cooking:(

  20. Your kulambu looks delicious Manju,thank you for visiting my blog.Glad to here that you live in Germany. I have been recently moved to Germany,we live in Morfeldon,Walldorf close to Frankfurt city.

  21. Mam u din say when to add senai kizangu . anyways thanks for nice recipe

  22. Mam u din say when to add senai kilangu . But thanks for a nice recipe

  23. thanks for the wonderful recipe :)came out well

  24. Hi, Looks like a nice recipe, but when should Yam be added? Please update the recipe...