poondu kuzhambu in a white bowl and poondu kuzhambu with rice on a white plate
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5 from 2 votes

Poondu Kuzhambu | South Indian Style Garlic Stew / Gravy

Lipsmacking poondu kuzhambu or the South Indian style garlic stew/gravy made without sambar powder. A perfect gravy to relish along with hot steamed rice.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Entree
Cuisine: South Indian, TamilNadu
Keyword: poondu kuzhambu
Servings: 5
Calories: 126kcal
Author: Srividhya G


  • 2 tbsp sesame oil or gingelly oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • 10 curry leaves one sprig/strand
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 25 garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp jaggery powdered
  • 2.25 cups of water divided 1 cup for tamarind paste, 1 cup extra, 2 tbsps for rice flour slurry
  • 1/2 tsp rice flour optional

To Grind:



  • Peel the garlic cloves. We need 25 to 30 cloves, and peeling is a time-consuming task. As I mentioned in my gifts under $10 post, I used my silicone trivet for peeling it.
  • Also, grind the coriander powder, red chili powder, dried red chilies, and coconut by adding 1/2 cup of water into a smooth paste.
  • Mix 2 tsps of tamarind paste in 1 cup of water and set it aside.

Poondu Kuzhambu Recipe

  • Heat a pan and add the sesame oil. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, and curry leaves.
  • Let the mustard seeds sputter. The oil will become frothy, and that's normal if you are using sesame oil.
  • Now add the garlic and the turmeric powder.
  • Mix well and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat or until the garlic turns light brown.
  • Then add the tamarind water (tamarind paste mixed with water) and salt. Simmer it for 5 minutes or until the raw smell of the tamarind goes off.
  • At this stage, add the ground paste and jaggery. Rinse the mixer jar with 1 cup of water and add it as well. Mix well.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer it for 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Now check the consistency of the kuzhambu. If you prefer thin consistency, then simmer the kuzhambu for three more minutes and turn off the heat.
  • If you prefer slightly thick consistency, mix 1/2 tsp of rice flour with 2 tbsp of water and make a slurry.
  • Now add this slurry to the kuzhambu and simmer again for 5 minutes.
  • That's it. Poondu kuzhambu is ready. Serve hot with rice.


  • I did not add any onions or shallots or other vegetables. I wanted to bring out the garlic flavor exclusively. But you can add 1/2 cup of chopped onion or five shallots and also 1/2 of vegetables like drumstick, brinjal or okra.
  • The garlic clove size varies. So depending upon that, adjust the amount. If you have small cloves, you can add up to 30 to 35 cloves.
  • While tempering, you can also add 1 tsp of toor or split pigeon peas. It adds a sweet flavor.
  • I highly recommend sesame oil or gingelly oil for this recipe but if you can't source it you can use other oil as well.
  • Spice & Salt: Always adjust the salt and seasonings according to your taste. I add two dried red chilies and 1/2 tsp of red chili powder. But you can increase this measure to 3 or 4 dried red chilies depending upon the variety and 1 tsp of red chili powder. For a bring fiery red gravy, try Kashmiri red chili powder, or Kashmiri dried red chili variety. I used regular red chili powder and Byadgi variety of chilies for this recipe.
  • Tamarind: I used homemade tamarind paste. As I mentioned in vathal kuzhambu post, adjust the tamarind depending upon the variety. The age of the tamarind plays a significant role. Instead of tamarind paste, you can use tamarind pods. In that case, soak a small gooseberry sized tamarind in 1 cup of water for at least 30 minutes and extract the juice.
  • You can skip the fresh ground masala and 1.5 tbsp of sambar powder. It will be more like poondu puli kuzhambu/vathal kuzhambu.
  • Simmer in medium-low heat for a long time helps to intensify the flavor. Also, as the kuzhambu cools down, it thickens slightly.


Calories: 126kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 948mg | Potassium: 159mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 306IU | Vitamin C: 71mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1mg