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Kathirikkai Kara Kozhambu – Eggplant in Spicy Tamarind Gravy

Kara Kozhambu is very typical of Tamil Nadu, mainly from around the Chettinad area. ‘Kara’ means spicy and ‘Kozhambu’ means gravy. And the most famous kara kozhambu is made using eggplants or ‘Kathirikai’. Usually we use the small tender brinjals for this preparation. But as those are a little difficult to find here, I use the large eggplant. It takes a while longer to cook, but the flavor remains the same. This is a favorite in our house, everybody loves it. Especially, if you serve it with parboiled rice, it tastes awesome :). This month I got a bag of parboiled rice by mistake and I love it! I couldn’t resist making kara kozhambu just to eat it with that rice. So here is the recipe, I will not say it is the most authentic recipe, but it tastes very good. It tastes even more good the next day! So here’s the tip, make a BIG pot of this and save some for the next day, especially to go with curd rice!!

*Updated on 01/17/12- Sending this recipe to Vardhini’s Dish it Out event hosted this month by Sangee of Spicy Treats*


Eggplant/Brinjal – 1 large/5-6 small
Onion – 1 medium
Garlic – 5-6 cloves(or more if you want)
Tamarind paste – 2-3 tsp(use more if you use light colored tamarind paste) or a big lemon size ball of tamarind
Tomato – 2 medium
Green chili – 2 no.(optional)
Sambar powder – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Oil – 2-3 tbsp (preferable sesame oil)

To grind into a paste:

Dry Red Chilies – 6-8 (adjust according to your taste)
Grated Coconut – 4 tbsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds(Methi) – 1 tsp
Onion – 1 small (replace with 1/2 cup of peeled pearl onions or sambar onions if you can find them)
Water – enough to grind


  • Dry roast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and dry red chillies. Grind all the above with onion and coconut, adding water as required to make a very smooth paste.
  • Heat oil in a saucepan/kadhai and add the mustard seeds, let them splutter, add the curry leaves. Add the onions and garlic and saute until onions are slightly caramelized.
  • Add the sambhar powder and roast for a minute, stirring continuously until aromatic. This step is really important, do not skip it. Once the kitchen fills with the aroma of sambhar powder, add the tomatoes and cook until tomatoes are mushy.
  • Now add the eggplants and coat them in the sambhar powder. Cook for about 5 mins. Now add water, tamarind paste, green chillies and salt. Cook until the eggplant is tender.
  • Mix in the ground paste and simmer until the raw smell goes away and the gravy is thickened to your desired consistency. For me this is about 25-30 mins.

Serve with steaming hot rice. Goes well with dosa, upma and pongal also.

You might also like:

Baingan Bharta – Roasted and Mashed Eggplant Curry

Kara Sev – For ICC June

Appalam Vatha Kozhambu (Papad Gravy)

Keerai Kondakadalai Kozhambu (Chickpeas & Spinach in tamarind gravy)

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