My interest in the culinary arts started at a young age

My interest in the culinary arts started at a young age

Pongal Kuzhambu or Chettinad Pongal Kuzhambu

Growing up in a big family was an adventure. I have four other siblings and we didn’t have a maid at home. So we did all the household chores, including helping my mother in the kitchen. 

I believe my interest in the culinary arts started at a young age. Maybe it was the fact that it was very normal for everyone to be part of the cooking process at home, I was inclined to learn more. 

I went to culinary school and worked at some of the best hotels in the country and abroad. Every single one of them has been a great learning experience. 

My speciality is Mediterranean cuisine. I was trained by a Michelin star chef in Dubai. I absolutely love seafood and I think the cuisine brings out the best features of the ingredient; it gets the depth of it.  Having said that, nothing beats my wife’s cooking. She makes some spectacular Chettinad dishes and I look forward to it every time. The only time I take over the kitchen is when my children demand it. 

Today’s recipe is a Chettinad special. You prepare it during Pongal using freshly harvested vegetables.

The dish can also be kept outside the fridge for three to four days. 

Chef Kasi Viswanath, F&B director, Radisson Blu Atria

Pongal Kuzhambu or Chettinad Pongal Kuzhambu


Kathirikkai (Brinjal) - 3

Mochai,(Green Field Beans) fresh - 1 handful

Paragikkai (Sweet Pumkin) - 50 gms

SakarvalliKizhangu(Sweet potato)  medium - 1

Sheppakizhangu (Colocasia) medium - 1

Avarakkai (Broad Beans) - 5

Vazhakkai (Raw Banana) - 1/2

Sambar onions - 10

Tomato, small - 1

Tamarind - 1 lemon size

Sambar powder - 4 tsp

Red chili powder - 1 tsp

Jaggery - 1 tsp

Salt - to taste

For tempering

Gingellyoil - 2 tsp

Asafoetida – 1/2 spoon

Curry leaves - 1 sprig


Soak tamarind in 1/2 cup Luke warm water for 15 mins. Add 1 more cup of water, squish tamarind well and extract pulp.

Wash and chop all the veggies into cubes.
Heat 3 cups water and bring it to a rolling boil. Pour it into a hot pack or case.

First add the mochai followed by root vegetables like sweet potato, cheppakizhangu and then add rest of the vegetables.

Close the hot pack with its lid and let it rest for 1/2 hour.
Take a large vessel and add the tamarind extract, red chili powder, sambar powder, mix well and bring it to a boil.
Open the hot pack and you can see the vegetables would have softened well. Add them along with the water to the boiling tamarind water.

If necessary add more hot water to ensure that the water level is just above the vegetables.
Close the vessel with a lid and cook over low flame for 10-12 mins.

Add salt, mix well and cook covered for another 5-7 mins over low flame or till the vegetables are completely cooked and soft to the touch.

Heat a pan with oil. Temper with Asafoetida and curry leaves and cook for few seconds.

Pour this over the pongalkuzhambu and add jaggery, mix well and close with a lid.

Let it rest for 5 mins before serving along with paalpongal (White raw rice cooked in milk) This pongalkuzhambu tastes much better from the next day on and upon reheating daily, will stay good for a week at room temperature itself.

Note: Try and use a mud pot to cook this gravy so that the taste will be even better.

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