Recipes: Mixed Pumpkin Poritcha Kozambu

Tamil Brahmin cooking is generally considered to be quite healthy and satvik. In our everyday cooking, onions and garlic are generally not used and there are people even today who can’t stand the smell of garlic being cooked. My grandmother is one of them. When we make anything with garlic, she generally leaves the kitchen and in fact goes to the room furthest away from the kitchen so the smell does not bother her.

A Poritcha Kozambu is something like a stew which is made by cooking a mixture of vegetables with a paste made of coconut, urad dal and peppercorns and some cooked dal. I had some yellow and orange pumpkin left over when I made some Avial and these were too little to make something with just one of them. So I decided to combine the two to make a fusion kozambu and kootu out of the two vegetables. Generally pumpkins are not used for a poritcha kozambu but this recipe was a huge success. I loved it as did S and the children and this recipe will find its way to my cooking repertoire and I will make it often.

Mixed Pumpkin Poritcha Kozambu

½ yellow pumpkin, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
½ white pumpkin, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup toor dal,
½ tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp coconut
1 tsp broken urad dal
3-4 dried red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp oil
Salt to taste
Chopped coriander leaves to garnish

Wash the toor dal and soak in hot water for 10 minutes. Then pressure cook the dal with ¼ tsp turmeric powder until it is soft and mushy. Once the pressure reduces and you are able to open the cooker, mash the dal well and keep aside.
Heat the oil in a small skillet and when it warms up, add the cumin seeds, dried red chillies, urad dal, and pepper corns and fry till the urad dal changes colour to a nice brown. Then add the grated coconut and stir constantly until the coconut is brown and completely devoid of water. Keep aside and let it cool.
When the coconut is cool, grind it completely to a smooth paste using water as needed.
In the same pan, add the chopped pumpkins, ¼ tsp turmeric powder and some salt and cook until the pumpkins are about 70% cooked.
When the pumpkins are cooked, but still have a bite to them, add the mashed dal and the coconut paste and stir well.
Add the tamarind paste and check for seasoning. Let it boil for about 5-7 minutes.
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot over steamed rice and a stir fried vegetable of your choice.

Keerai Sambar or Spinach Sambar

Everyone knows how healthy spinach is. A low calorie vegetable, the spinach is consiidered a superfood and green vegetables like the spinach are very good for skin, hair and bone health. Spinach is a great source of iron and one cup of raw spinach contains as much as 0.81 gm of iron. Spinach is low in carbs but high in insoluble fiber. Spinach also packs high amounts of carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium.

I usually make Spinach Dal, Mor Keerai or even Spinach Rice, but never really tried trying spinach as a sambar. Earlier this week, when making lunch where the other dishes were south Indian, I decided to make spinach sambar as opposed to a dal which was what the children were asking for just so all the dishes were south Indian. The resultant sambar was super yum and it even cooked faster than the usual sambar.

Spinach or Keerai Sambar


  • 2 cups spinach, washed and chopped roughly
  • 2 medium sized onions, chopped into big pieces
  • 1 gooseberry size tamarind, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes
  • 1 cup toor dar, soaked in warm water for 20 minutes
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 1 tsp jaggery
  • 2 tsp sambar powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil


  • Cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker or on the stove top till it is cooked and mushy. Beat it well till it becomes a homogenous mass, adding water if it is too thick. Keep aside.
  • Mash and seive the soaked tamarind and thin it till it is at the sourness you like. Keep aside.
  • Heat the oil in a pan and when warm, add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Then add the asafoetida and stir for a few seconds.
  • Now add the chopped onions and stir until they are translucent.
  • When the onions are translucent and soft, add the chopped spinach and let them wilt.
  • When the spinach is wilted, add in the prepared tamarind water and then add the salt, sambar powder and jaggery and let it cook for around 5-7 minutes.
  • When the spinach and onions and completely cooked and the raw smell of tamarind goes away, add the cooked dal to the sambar.
  • Check for seasoning and add what needs to be added. Let the sambar cook for another five minutes and then switch off the flame.
  • Serve hot with a south Indian meal of rice and a stir fry curry.


  • If you don’t have access to tamarind pulp, you can also buy tamarind paste which you should get in any Indian store. Use 1-2 tsp (as per your taste)
  • Instead of spinach, you can use any greens for this recipe

Recipes: Kalyana Gotsu

Earlier in the week, we celebrated the harvest festival of Pongal and on that day I made Venn Pongal for dinner. I wanted to make something to go with this but was not in the mood for Coconut chutney, so decided to search for something else to make to go with Pongal.

I came across Gotsu, which is also a traditional accompaniment to Pongal, but this is usually made with Brinjals or Aubergines. S is allergic to this vegetable, so I decided to substitute it with other vegetables. This is also a one-pot recipe and I made it from start to end in my pressure cooker. It can also be made in a large pan or dutch oven but will take longer than if you use a pressure cooker. It was so yummy and tasty and everyone gobbled it up.

This Gotsu is also served in weddings, especially for breakfast with Idlis, Vadai and Pongal.

Kalyana Gotsu


  • 2 carrots, chopped finely
  • 2 potatoes, chopped finely
  • 1 large tomato, chopped finely
  • 1 lemon sized ball of tamarind or 3 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1/4 cup moong dal
  • 3 tbsp chana dal
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp sambhar powder
  • 1 tbsp jaggery (can omit this or even substitute with sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • Salt to taste


  • Soak the tamarind in hot water for 30 minutes, then squeeze the pulp out and strain the water. Keep aside.
  • Soak the dals together in warm water for 30 minutes, strain and keep aside.
  • Heat the oil in the pressure cooker and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, add the curry leaves, asafoetida and green chillies and stir for a few seconds.
  • Now add the finely chopped tomatoes and stir for a few minutes.
  • Then add the finely chopped potatoes and carrots and stir well.
  • Then add the soaked dals and give it a good stir.
  • Now add the tamarind water, sambhar powder and salt to taste and stir everything well.
  • Cover the pressure cooker and cook for 3-4 whistles.
  • If you are using a pan or dutch oven to cook, cover and cook, stirring occasionally. Periodically check and add water if needed. You need the vegetables to be fully cooked and the dals to be soft and mushy.
  • When the pressure reduces in the cooker, open and lightly mash the gotsu with a potato masher. Don’t mash it completely like we do for Pav Bhaji, but just a bit to make the gotsu thicker.
  • Add the jaggery and check for seasoning. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with Idli, Dosai, Vadai or Pongal.


  • I made this without onions or shallots because I made it on a festival day. If you want, you can add onions or shallots and the place to add it is just after popping the mustard seeds.
  • You can use any vegetables you like though it’s usually made with Brinjals or Aubergines.


Recipe: White Pumpkin Rasavangi

The word Rasavangi is very evocative and exotic, isn’t it? In Marathi (or rather the Bambaiya Hindi which is spoken in Mumbai), Vangi means Brinjal or Aubergine. And Rasa in most Indian languages brings to mind a gravy. So I always thought Rasavangi is brinjal cooked in gravy. It was only recently I learnt that it is, in fact, a South Indian term and most probably used by the Brahmins. All this time, I used to call this dish a Pumpkin Sambhar. Anyway, here’s the Rasavangi I made recently.

White Pumpkin Rasavangi


  • 1 large white pumpkin, peeled and chopped into small pieces after discarding the seeds and fibre
  • 1 lemons sized ball of tamarind, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes, then squeezed so the fibres are removed and the tamarind water separated
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup toor dal
  • 2-3 tbsp chana dal

To be ground into a paste:

  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 6-8 dried red chillies
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 2 tbsp oil

To Temper:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp broken urad dal
  • 5-6 curry leaves


  • Cook the toor and chana dal until they lose their shape. Whisk them well till it becomes a homogeneous mixture. Keep aside
  • In a pan, take 2 tbsp oil and when the oil warms, add the dried red chillies, coriander seeds and chana dal and stir until they start becoming red. Then add the coconut and keep stirring till the coconut becomes reddish brown and loses all moisture and becomes completely dry. Keep aside to cool.
  • When cool, blend to a fine powder. If your blender can’t do this, you can also add water and blend it to a fine paste.
  • In the same pan, put the chopped pumpkin and turmeric powder with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and ensure it does not burn. You can also add a bit of salt here so the pumpkin is not bland.
  • Cook the pumpkin till it becomes tender. At this point add the tamarind water and boil until the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
  • Now add the cooked dals and the ground paste and check for seasoning. When the Rasavangi starts to boil again, remove from the flame.
  • Take a smaller skillet and pour in the remaining 1 tbsp oil. When the oil heats up, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the urad dal and let it brown slightly. Add the curry leaves and switch off the flame. Pour this seasoning over the Rasavangi.
  • Serve hot as a gravy with rice or even as an accompaniment to a traditional South Indian meal. If serving as an accompaniment, make it thicker than usual. This can also be eaten with Indian flatbreads.


Arachavitta Sambhar

This is a very traditional South Indian recipe. Archavitta literally means with ground spices. This sambhar is different from the usual one we make on a regular basis in that there is no sambhar powder used.

I have wanted to make this for a few weeks now. The last time I tried making it, I found I didn’t have coconut at home and so had to postpone making it. I finally made it with the basic recipe from my bible of tam bram cooking – Cook and See by S. Meenakshi Ammal. I used the recipe from Book 1 of Cook and See and tweaked it a bit using advice given to me by my mother and mother-in-law.

Arachivitta Sambhar


  • ½ cup red gram dal (toor dal)
  • 1 small lime sized ball of tamarind, soaked in water and the pulp squeezed out
  • 1 cup shallots
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and cut into big pieces
  • ½ a yellow pumpkin, peeled and cut into big cubes
  • 4-5 potatoes, cut into largish cubes
  • 2-3 tsps oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

To be ground into a paste:

  • 6-8 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsps coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp Bengal gram seeds (chana dal)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4-5 shallots
  • ½ cup fresh, grated coconut


In a small pressure cooker, pressure cook the toor dal with a pinch of turmeric powder till it is soft and the dal has broken down. This usually will take around 3 whistles in the cooker.

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan and one by one add the ingredients to be gound into a paste and roast them till the coconut is golden and the water in it evaporates. Transfer to a mixer and when cool, grind it to a fine paste using a bit of water. Keep aside.

In the same pan, heat the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, put in the shallot and stir for a few minutes. Then add the potatoes, carrots and pumpkin and fry for a few minutes.

Now add the gound paste and stir into the vegetables. Once it is all mixed in, pour in the tamarind water and add salt to taste.

Let this boil for around ten minutes. Check to see if the vegetables are cooked. When the vegetables and shallots reached the almost cooked stage, add the cooked dal.

Let it boil well, check for seasoning and switch off the gas. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with white rice.