Sunday, February 3, 2013

Pottil.. A Rare Kerala curry

I first heard of this delicious curry when I was in college. My friend Aparna's mother used to make this quite often and I was fortunate to have tried it when I would pop into her home for combined studies. I fell in love with this curry! Its like a combination of sambar and theeyal, two famous south Indian curries. But, not many seem to have heard of it, including my family. 

Now, its a regular at our home. My husband likes it too. We usually have this with rice and a dry side dish like beans thoran, cabbage thoran or beans-kaya mezhukkuperutti. Hmm, it doesnt get better for us Malayalees! So here is the recipe..

This recipe is from my friend Aparna. Thanks a ton to her for introducing me to this.
Disclaimer - I have moved away from the original recipe by replacing bittergourd with carrots and tomatoes. In my opinion, the usual vegetables we put in sambar will work perfectly well here.

Serves - 8


For roasting and grinding-

Grated coconut - 2/3 cup (I used ready-made coconut powder since that is what I can find around here as a substitue)
Dried red chillies - 3 or 4
Onion  - 1/3 of one large, chopped (Traditionally, we are supposed to use small red onions, but regular onions work just fine)
Coriander powder - 4 Tsp
Oil - 2 Tbsp

For the main curry-

Tur dal - 1 1/4 cup
Onion - 2/3 of one large
Tomato - 1 medium
Carrot - 1 small
Turmeric powder - 1 Tsp
Red chilly powder - 1 Tsp
Tamarind - equivalent of 1 Tbsp
Salt - 2 Tsp
Oil - 1 Tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 Tsp
Curry leaves - to season   


  • Cut the 2/3rd onion, carrot and tomato into large cubes and soak the tamarind in some water
  • Pressure cook tur dal with the spices including salt upto around 3 whistles
  • When the cooker is ready to open again, put in the chopped vegetables and pressure cook again (with more water if required) upto about 6 whistles
  • Roast the grated coconut and onions in oil, in low heat, with intermittent stirring
  • When they turn a light brown, add the dried chillies and coriander powder. Switch off in around 45 seconds.
  • Let the roasted mixture cool a bit and then grind to a paste with about a cup of water
  • By now, it is time to open the pressure cooker. Add the tamarind water to the cooked dal and veggies and bring it to a boil. Check the salt at this stage and add as required
  • Now add the ground coconut-coriander powder paste to this and simmer-cook for about 3 minutes
  • Finally season with some spurted mustard seeds and curry leaves

I would say this curry is like sambar but instead of sambar powder, the main spice here is coriander powder. And I am sure all Malayalees would agree to the ground coconut paste! Yes, we all just love it! Try this, I guarantee you, this will become a favourite!

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