Poondu Kuzhambu (Garlic Curry)

Aaaah…..Diwali is fast approaching. Next week, I would be whipping out traditional diwali sweets and savories , going through pounds of sugar and gallons of oil. I thought I would post one simple, healthy recipe before jumping into the Diwali binge. I know I will make this curry again a few days after diwali, when I am not high on sugar and my stomach craves for a detox 🙂

Poondu (Garlic) Kuzhambu (curry) is a very simple and a very basic recipe. No fancy ingredients, no fancy cooking techniques, takes less but delivers more. The garlic flavor is very subtle in the curry , so no need  worry about ogre breath after eating this :).

  • You will need :
  1. Garlic – 15 -20 cloves
  2. Curry leaves – few
  3. turmeric – 1 tsp
  4. vellam / jaggery/ brown sugar – 1 tbsp
  5. tamarind water – soak 1 tbsp of tamarind in water and extract the juice
  6. salt to taste
  7. Sesame oil – 1 tbsp


  • To make the masala paste , you will need :
  1. Pearl onions – 10 (use shallots otherwise, but no large onions)
  2. Tomatoes – 1 large or 2 medium
  3. Curry leaves – few
  4. Black pepper – 1.5 tsp
  5. Dry red chillies – 2
  6. cumin – 1.5 tsp


Grind the above ingredients to a paste. To get a smooth paste, first pulse the dry spices and add the onions and grind for 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes.


  • In a wok, heat 1 tbsp of sesame oil and fry mustard seeds and then saute the curry leaves and the garlic.


  • When the garlic cloves turn slightly golden, add the ground masala paste. (If you used large onions , the raw pungent smell of onions would be unpleasant, so only use pearl onions or shallots.)


  • Dilute with half cup of water and to the curry add turmeric, brown sugar and salt.


  • Taste the curry and see how much acid you will need and according to that add the tamarind water. Often while making tamarind based curries, we tend to go overboard with tamarind and then to compensate it we add more heat and more salt and unintentionally end up with an intense curry. It is wise to add the tamarind after adding all your seasonings, so that you will be better able to judge how much tamarind is needed.


  • Allow the curry to boil and reduce. Cook until the garlic cloves are tender. Traditionally, 3 or 4 tbsp. of oil is used and the curry is cooked until all the oil separates and floats on top. But I always make this curry light and simple, and less oil does not lessen the taste in any ways.


The approximate cooking time will be 15 – 20 mins.  You can put rice to boil, start making this curry and while it is cooking, make a simple vegetable stir fry on the side. So a complete meal in thirty minutes…. most days , that is all the time we get to prepare a meal, right ? 🙂

The garlic cloves that are cooked and soaked in the curry will melt in your mouth….



10 thoughts on “Poondu Kuzhambu (Garlic Curry)

  1. I am a big fan of south indian ‘saapad’ dishes. This sounds so divine, you have no idea. Now, whenever I need to whip up some rasam/kootus/curries, I turn to your blog. Perfect simple recipe and they turn out great always. Thank you SO much.

  2. Great recipe, always good to have a variety in your cookbook for those days when you want to make something slightly different. I recently started using tamarind in curry bases and loving the taste and flavor it brings out.

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