Ezhukari Kuzhambu (Sambar)

When I told my hubby Desi, who is Tamil, that I was planning to cook Ezhukari Kuzhambu, he first corrected my pronunciation: something he loves to do.

Ezhu kari sambarThe next thing he told me was that he had never heard of this dish. When I explained that it was a sambar made with seven vegetables, or ezhu kari in Tamil, his face cleared and he said, not a little smugly: “Oh, that’s just kadamba sambar.”

Now kadamba sambar (which translates to mixed-vegetable sambar, so, well, I guess it is like Ezhukari kuzhambu) is absolutely delicious, and Desi’s little revelation didn’t quite put me off making this dish. I found the recipe in one of Tamil cuisine’s classic cookbooks, Samaithu Paar (Cook and See) by Meenakshi Ammal. The first edition of this book was printed way back in 1968, according to my copy.

I did tweak it quite a bit, though, not least because among the ingredients were 15-18 red chilies (gasp!) and more oil than I like to use. I also used canned coconut milk although feel free to substitute with fresh coconut if you have it.

If you happen to have fewer than seven veggies, don’t worry – this dish will still taste wonderful because of the rich flavor of the ground spices. Also, you could use other vegetables like snake gourd or colocasia.

Remember to cut the veggies into similar-sized pieces, which always makes for even cooking and better presentation.

One way in which Ezukari seemed to differ from the sambar I make for kadamba sadam was the over-generous use of coriander seeds (1/4 cup) in the ground masala, which I didn’t mind at all because I happen to love these flavorful seeds. I also added some sambar powder to the dish because I right now have a stash of absolutely delicious homemade sambar powder that my sis-in-law, Paddu, gave me when she visited recently. It’s so good, I’ve been adding it to everything it can possibly go into.

So here’s my version of Ezukari Kuzhambu, or Kadamba Sambar. Regardless of what we called it, Desi and I were unanimous about this: it tasted great.

Ezhukari Kuzhambu (Kadamba Sambar)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 8
  • 4-5 small eggplants, diced, or ½ large one, diced
  • 1 cup of red pumpkin, diced
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 plantain, diced
  • ¾ cup okra, cut into 1-cm rings (I used frozen)
  • ¾ cup green beans, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 large lemon-sized ball of tamarind, soaked in 1 cup of water for a few minutes. Extract the juice by crushing the tamarind between your fingers, and discard the solids.
  • 1 tbsp sambar powder
  • 1 cup masoor dal or pink lentils, cooked until tender (you can substitute with tuvar dal)
  • For the ground masala:
  • 1 tsp canola oil (or any other vegetable oil except olive)
  • ¼ cup coriander seeds
  • ⅛ cup chana dal or bengal gram
  • 3 red chilies (use more if you like more heat in your kuzhambu)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (I used canned)
  • For the tempering:
  • Heat 1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 generous pinch of asafetida
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 10-15 curry leaves
  1. To make the ground masala, fry the coriander seds, chana dal and red chilies in the oil until lightly golden and then grind into a fairly smooth paste with the coconut milk, adding a little water if necessary.
  2. Cook all the vegetables until they are almost tender (I zapped them in the microwave with about a cupful of water for about 8 minutes)
  3. Put the vegetables into a large saucepan over medium heat.
  4. Add the tamarind water and cook another 2-3 minutes
  5. Now add the cooked dal, sambar powder, and the ground masala paste. Give it all a good stir and allow it to come to a boil.
  6. Add salt to taste. If the kuzhambu is too thick, add some water.
  7. Let the kuzhambu or sambar cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes, turn off heat.
  8. Heat the oil for tempering and add the remaining tempering ingredients.
  9. When the mustard seeds crackle, take the tempering off the heat and add it to the sambar.
  10. Garnish the sambar with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice and poppadum.

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    This ezhu kari sambar (kadabam), they make on Pongal (Sakhranti day), which would be tradition in some part of Tamil Nadu. It is really delicious, goes well with Pongal Vaishu.

  2. says

    I usually make this sambar for festival occasions and love the flavours the different vegetables give to it! I’m going to try this recipe for Tamil New Year tomorrow!

  3. says

    You bake vegan goods, cook kadamba sambar, which is absolute South Indian dish, brocoli usal. You are such a versatile cook. It looks perfect. We make it on Thriuvadhirai as an accompaniment for Kali (your husband would know it) and on Kanu Pongal also.

  4. says

    Out of curiosity, which part of India are you from? You have mentioned about the Samaithu Paar book. I also have it. Do you know to read and write Tamil also?

    (If you want to keep the info. private, I totally understand, you need not publish this question)

  5. says

    Hi, vaishali, your dishes always look sooooo yummy. I love the many spices you use, only the other day I tried panch phoran for the first time and I was absolutely thrilled :-)

    btw: I like the new layout of your blog :-)

  6. says

    Pearlsofeast, chocolatecovered, Dhivya, Richa, Uma, Jayashree, Arundathi, Thanks, ladies.

    Cham, thanks for the suggestion, dear.

    Miri, Thanks. I do hope you try it. Happy new year!

    Lavi, great suggestion. I love drumsticks and will try it with those next time.

    TBC, thanks. I agree about the coconut milk- I think it enhances the flavor of just about anything!

    Madhuram, You are so kind. I really appreciate your comments. To answer your question, I was born and raised in Bombay. My father’s a konkani from Karwar in northern Karnataka, and my mom was Maharashtrian. My step-mom is Goan, and my hubby’s Tamil,so I’ve been lucky to have a number of regional influences in my life and cooking!
    But much as I wish I could read and write Tamil, I don’t. In fact, I know just a smattering of words, and mess up the pronunciation of most, according to my hubby :) My copy of Samaithu Paar is an English translation.

    Anke, Glad you enjoy the spices. They are certainly one of the most special aspects of Indian cuisine.

    Dear Arundati, :) You’re right, girl. Would taste great with fluffy dosa.

    Annu, Thanks, and you are welcome.

    Happy Cook, So glad you liked it, and hope you do try it. Thanks.

  7. says

    I passed on this recipe to my sister’s family and she made it. She said it was terrific! The entire family loved it and they had no leftovers. Thanks for sharing such a recipe!

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