Dad’s poricha kozhambu – Mixed vegetable curry

poricha kozhambu
The men in my family have not shied away from cooking. I have always seen my dad make a cup of tea, chop vegetables, have the best combination of vegetables to make some recipes. My husband making the crispiest godhambu dosa, fragrant rasam and sambhar and of course tempting us with a colourful tri capsicum dahi chutney.
Both of them have happily taught their better-halves the tips the trick and all the know-how.  So that part of the partnership is fine. It is one of these recipes which my dad taught amma and she passed it on to me that I am writing about today.

Recipes from appa- Porichakozhambu

Appa had a difficult childhood. Losing his father early on and generally, poor war times did not make it easy for him. Hence the recipes that he talks about using the absolute local ingredients yet made tasty. There is one thing about Appa’s recipes, they turn me into a fire breathing dragon. He likes them spicy and tangy. He manages to take that spice level even today.
When monsoon starts outside appa will come home with some of his favourite veggies like snake gourd, winter melon, elephant yam, bitter gourd and long beans. Then he will tell mum that we will make poricha kozhambu. He will help her clean and cut most of the vegetables except the elephant yam (that is itchy). Mum will work her magic and a huge portion of the curry will be there for dinner.
south indian curry with pepper and lentils

This poricha kozhambu

While having this spicy, peppery tangy gravy he will tell us about his time at Mancombu and how each little thing was precious. I have heard this pretty much every monsoon. I enjoyed these stories as those torrential rains tore through the state and with the first wind the power went off ( that is quite a regular thing in Kerala).
The recent rainy winter days made me miss this recipe a lot. My family has never had this before and were happy to try it for Father’s day. My version is, however, quite different from amma’s one, it is much toned down ( check the recipe notes for the hotter addition) Unlike the popular poricha kozhambu recipes that you will commonly encounter, this recipe has no added coconut. The fiery gravy is a blend of black pepper and lentils. Together with the tamarind, they make this vegetable curry a unique combination.

Here are two more Indian curries that are unique

Dudh Shukto
Rosep aon
Try this poricha kozhambu with red rice or with spinach bread, especially on a cold winter day. The recipe does keep well for a week in the fridge and frozen for 3 months. So make it in a huge batch and enjoy the lip-smacking pepper gravy from my father’s collection.

serving suggestion

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mixed vegetables in pepper gravy
poricha kozhambu

Dad's porichakozhambu

Mixed vegetable coconut free, gluten-free curry for winter
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Main Dish, sidedish, Traditional
Cuisine Autumn, diabetic friendly, gluten free, Indian, Medicinal, South indian, Vegan, Vegetarian, Winter
Servings 8 people


To prepare tamarind pulp

  • 1 small lime sized ball tamarind
  • 1 cup drinking water ( warm )

For the porichakozhambu masala

  • 2 tbsp Urad Dal (black gram dal)
  • 1 tbsp Channa Dal ( split bengal gram)
  • 1 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 tsp dry red chillies ( i used flakes)
  • 15-20 curryleaves

vegetables needed

  • 1 cup wintermelon Diced and loosely packed
  • 1 cup snake gourd diced and loosely packed
  • 1/2 cup bitter gourd diced and losely packed

for the chickpea

  • 1/2 cup chickpea ( pre-cooked or from a can)

to cook the vegetables

  • 2 cups drinking water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste


for the tamarind extract

  • Soak the small lime sized ball of tamarind in the warm water and set aside for 10 minutes
  • Once soft muddle the tamarind and extract the soft pulp in the water. Remove the unwanted hard bits and strain the tamarind pulp. Set aside until use

prepare the vegetables

  • Wash and clean the vegetables needed.
    prep the vegetables
  • Remove the central part of the bitter gourd, the snake gourd and winter melon. Dice the vegetables about 1-inch cubes.
    diced country vegetables
  • In a cooking pot add two cups of water, the diced vegetables, salt and turmeric and bring to a boil.
  • Add the precooked channa ( chickpea) to the vegetable combo. ( you can use yams in the place of channa)
    the chickpea
  • Now add the tamarind pulp prepared to this mix
  • Cover and cook till the vegetables are soft.

for the poricha kozhambu masala mix

  • In a separate pan, dry roast the dals and the spices on a low heat.
    masala mix
  • Once they are crisp add the curry leaves and roast till the curry leaves snap.
  • Cool this mix and powder it in a spice blender.
    spice mix blended

Completing the curry

  • Add this masala mix to the cooked vegetable mix and stir in without any lumps.
    curry simmering
  • Simmer this on slow heat till the gravy thickens and the flavours mix well. This takes about 5-8 minutes on low heat.
  • The curry is now ready to be served. Enjoy with steamed red rice and crisp vadams.
    serving suggestion


For the full fiery version

Use 1 tbsp black pepper and 7-10 red chillies in the masala mix to roast and powder. I have toned down this very much to suit my family.

To meal prep and freeze

You can leave this curry in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. 
If you like to freeze, cool the prepared curry into freezer-friendly containers and save for up to 3 months. defrost as required. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Lata Lala
3 years ago

Good to know that men of the house taking interest in cooking. Mixed vegetable curry looks yummy. Some recipes are for keeps as they have wonderful memories attached to it.

3 years ago

Such a healthy and unique recipe. I love South Indian food but your posts have made me realize how limited exposure I had of this cuisine. Thanks for sharing this recipe, I will definitely try it.

Uma Srinivas
3 years ago

I loved your curry! Your dad taught this awesome! My dad never came inside the kitchen to cook 🙂 But he is a taster…

Mayuri Patel
3 years ago

I personally feel that both men and women should know how to cook at least basic meals. As for the fiery kozhambu, I already feel am breathing fire. Using winter veggies to make a filling and nutritious curry, sprinkled with past stories.. best meal.

Jayashree T.Rao
3 years ago

Its nice that men do help in cooking in your family. This recipe from your dad looks tasty and easy to prepare. Nice share Seema.

3 years ago

That’s a very interesting recipe from your dad. So nice of him to help in the kitchen. All the flavors in this khozambu sounds super inviting.

Sandhya Ramakrishnan
3 years ago

My dad is a great cook as well and only because of his interest in cooking, he has been managing after my mom passed away. Absolutely love poricha kuzhambu and my dad likes it hot and spicy just like your father. Great recipe and lovely read up!

Padma Veeranki
3 years ago

Such an interesting recipe from your dad. It was so nice of him to help in the kitchen. Loved the kuzhambu with all the flavours..Yummy share!!

3 years ago

Great recipe and lovely read up !
the curry looks so yummy seema, dads are always great.

3 years ago

It’s great to see when men of the family take interest in cooking, loving this wholesome mixed vegetable curry of your dad. Perfect with phulka or rice.

Priya Srinivasan
3 years ago

Oh yumm, that kuzhambu looks so delicious!!! My god i m literally salivating while reading thru the recipe, can acutally smell the aroma of the freshly ground masala!!! Bookmarking this to try!

3 years ago

Such a wonderful and unique recipe.. masala sounds so flavourful and delicious. Thanks for sharing detailed recipe.. Men in my house also so much interested in cooking 😍😍😍😍

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