Laliakka’s karuvepelai thogayal | curry leaf chutney

karuvepelai thogayal | curry leaves chutney

Curry leaf chutney is a delightful side dish for rice, dosa or idli. made with dals and plenty of fresh curry leaves. Slightly spicy the karuvepelai thogayal is a perfect use of the fresh curry leaves.

It is a blessing that I have a bit of family around here in Sydney. Whenever we meet up, we often huddle around the table or the kitchen corner to have a conversation. To me, this is the most productive part of the conversation. This is where the experienced nuances of a cuisine are shared. These are becoming my favourite moments too.
A recent visit to our cousin’s place got us talking over curry leaves coz that was the item of barter for the day. Sharing what we do with it, brought us to Karuvepellai thogayal. Laliakka (my mother’s cousin) said it would be so tasty to add ginger and coconut. Now this stayed in my mind. During meal prep on Monday,  I had a small batch trial to see how I liked this. Now, I can’t get enough of it. So here is Laliakkas karuvepelai thogayal.

Now, Laliakka, is a bit special. She is the only one in the family whom I have seen resembling my mum. In fact they really look like sisters. She should ideally be called Chitti ( mum’s younger sister), but from the time I have seen her, I have called her Laliakka. Also, it is their home that I spent a lot of my high school years in as it was a safe place where my mother could leave me and go to work. Laliakkas house with the two boys was my respite to avoid being alone at home which was a bit further. Fast forward, we still enjoy this association as they are the nearest I have in family here in Sydney.

Ingredients to make curry leaf chutney

The recipe for karuvepelai thogayal is adapted from the classic version. The ingredients are pretty much the same except a couple

Curry leaves: Curry leaves are a superstar in the South Indian culinary arsenal. They have a complex flavour profile, unique, yet bring out the best aroma for any South Indian dish. In addition, they have a lot of medicinal properties attributed to them and are a good mineral source. They are sold as leaf clusters or break them off as bunches from the plant. You can save them dried or frozen if you have a lot. Frsh leaves are what you need for this recipe.

Dals: the thogayal is different from chutneys because we add roasted dals like channa dal and urad dal. This forms half the thogayal mix. In this recipe, I have used channa dal and urad dal. This provides an aromatic base to the recipe.

Coconut: Grated coconut flesh makes that difference in this recipe from a classic thogayal. Fresh or frozen, this adds a bit of softness and sweet flavour to the recipe. This is one of the suggestions from Laliakka, that changed my recipe forever. Earlier I used to roast the coconut till golden brown, which gave a dry flavour to the thogayal. This version is much softer and aromatic.

Fresh ginger root: the fresh ginger was a great addition following the suggestion from Laliakka. I hardly ever added ginger to the thogayal I made before and now will never stop adding some. The ginger adds a bit of spiciness and smokiness to the recipe. I am unsure if the dried ginger will provide the same smokiness. If you do try it let us know how it goes.

Spices and seasoning: Salt flavours this chutney. Use rocksalt, pink salt or just regular cooking salt. Adjust the flavour to taste by adding a little at a time. Roasted red chillies are the spiciness in the red chilli. The red chilli is added to the dal mix when it is being roasted. this ensures that the red chilli is not burned, but crisp. You can use bydigai or regular dried serrano depending on the spice tolerance. The bydigai is less hot than the latter.

Tamarind: the sourness that is needed to make this recipe comes from the dried tamarind. There is no need to soak or extract the pulp, rather add it straight to the mix when you are blending after ensuring there are no seeds. 

fresh curry leaves

Let’s make Karuvepelai thogayal

The karuvepelai thogayal is a longer-lasting side dish that is equally good with a lunch rice platter or also with idly and dosa. it takes a few steps and a bit longer than making chutney to get this recipe ready. However, it is worth the time spent on it.

Cleaning the curry leaves: the curry leaves are separated from the middle hard stalk. Check the leaves to ensure there are no bugs or bug eggs on both sides. Rinse them thoroughly in water for a couple of times. Drain and dry the leaves on a kitchen cloth till they are ready to be used. There is no need to chop these leaves as you will be roasting and grinding them later.

Roasting the dals: The urad dal and channa dal are roasted in a tiny amount of coconut oil to the point that they are crunchy and golden. This process is one where you want to be around and stirring and mixing continuously as the dry dals burn very fast and do this on a very low heat. Once golden remove on to a plate and see them aside till ready to be ground. 

Dry roasting curry leaves and chillies: the curry leaves are roasted on low heat till they turn crispy. You don’t need oil for this process. Once the curry leaves are crispy, remove them onto the plate with dal and add the chillies to the pan. Let the chillies also roast and turn crispy. Remove from heat and set it aside.

Grinding the mix: Add fresh ginger root, salt, and grated coconut to the roasted mix. Mix this well. Add cleaned tamarind and then place them in your blender jar. Pulse till the mix, especially dals is coarsely broken down. At this stage add some water and grind it further. The thogayals are not as smooth as a chutney, so keep it a bit coarse. Remove the blend mix onto a serving bowl. Adjust salt after the taste test. the recipe will now be ready to serve. 

Expert tips from Laliakka

The curry leaf thogayal is often a recipe made during the annual remembrance day for elders ( thevasam) in the family. So when the recipe is being made, a ball of ellurundai ( a sweet made with sesame seeds and jaggery) is added to the mix to be ground. This not only enhances the flavour but brings a balance to the recipe. If you don’t have ellurundai you can roast along a teaspoon of sesame seeds along with the curry leaves and add them. Don’t miss to add half a teaspoon of crushed jaggery as well to provide a similar flavour.

Serving ideas for this karuvepelai thogayal

Thogayal is a fabulous combination with hot pepper rasam and rice on a cold day. Serve it with some poriyal and papad for the best South Indian home-style meal. You could use this thogayal as a side for idly, dosa or pesarattu. Alternatively, you can make a chutney cheese sandwich with this chutney slathered on toast and sprinkled with grated mozzarella. 

Can I make this as an instant chutney mix?

Yes, and this is my current survival hack. Few changes when you roast the mix will work towards a better result

  • Dry roast the ingredients without any oil.
  • Add a tbsp of roasted gram (pottukadalai or dalia) to the roasted mix.
  • Use desiccated coconut not fresh.
  • Dry roast the tamarind by pinching it into small bits and slow roasting on the lowest heat.
  • Roughly grind the mix by pulsing to make it a hogenous mix. Do not add water.
  • Once broken down you can grind it into a powder or slightly coarse depending one your liking.
  • To reconstitute as a chutney add a few spoons of the mix onto a bowl and add an equal quantity of warm water. Mix and let it sit for five minutes. Now check if you need more water added to match the consistency you like.

Karuvepelai thogayal

Curry leaf chutney is a delightful side dish for rice, dosa or idli. made with dals and plenty of fresh curry leaves. Slightly spicy the karuvepelai thogayal is a perfect use of the fresh curry leaves.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian, South indian
Servings 4 people


  • frying pan


  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp Channa Dal
  • 4 tbsp Urad Dal
  • 1 cup curry leaves packed
  • 8 medium dry red chillies
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp tamarind
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root
  • 2-3 tbsp grated coconut


  • Prep and wash the curry leaves and set them aside to dry.
  • into the pan add the oil and as it heats up add the dals.
  • Roast the dals on low to medium heat till golden.
  • Once golden, remove the dals and add the curry leaves and roast them.
  • When the curry leaves are roasted, remove and set it aside.
  • Now roast the red chillies.
  • Add fresh coconut, ginger, salt and tamarind
  • Add all these into the blender.
  • Blend to a coarse mix.
  • Now add water and blend further.
  • Check salt and remove from the blender.
  • The recipe is now ready to be served.
Keyword beans and legumes, chutneys and podi, Indian vegetarian dinner
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

What else to do with curry leaves?

Curry leaves are a precious commodity the moment you step out of Asian countries where a few branches trade for 5 to 10 dollars! So this makes them all the more valuable. When we get curry leaves we make curry leaf tea, curry leaf kozhambu or add to chutney podi. You could also add that to the snacks and curries you make. Additionally, you can make masala cookies with them or flavoured salts and oils.

Stay connected

As we enjoy the little joys of having someone nearby, hope you have the same lovely connections to enjoy. We will always cherish this recipe as Laliakkas thogayal.  Share with us your thoughts on this karuvepelai thogayal in the comments below.
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3 months ago
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Karivepalai thogayal with ginger is very new to me. So nice of your aunt to share this recipe. My MIL also used to add the Ellurundai from the devasam to this thogayal. Tastes yum with rasam sadam for sure !

2 months ago
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Love this

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