Kadalai Kulambu (Toor Dhal Gravy)

This dish can be either made with toor dhal or chana dhal.  But toor dhal gives a nice flavor and aroma.  Also instead of frying the toor dhal, it can be boiled until all the water is completely absorbed and then mashed and made into balls.


  • ¼ cup toor dhal
  • Canola oil for frying
  • ¼ teaspoon mustard seed
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • ½ cup red onion sliced
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 strand curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Jaffna chili powder
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup coconut milk or 2% milk
  • ¼ teaspoon tamarind paste/concentrate
  • Salt to taste


  • Soak toor dhal for about 2 – 2½  hours
  • Add a little bit salt and grind toor dhal coarsely in a food processor
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and drop a spoonful (teaspoon) into the oil and fry until crispy and golden brown
  • Drain on paper towel

  • In a covered saucepan, add 1 teaspoon canola oil and add mustard seeds
  • When the mustard seed start splattering add fenugreek seeds and fry for about 30 seconds.  Add onion, garlic and fry until onion turns golden brown
  • Add curry leaves and fry for another minute or two
  • Add fried toor dhal, water, salt, chilipowder, tamarind, coconut milk (**if using normal 2% milk do not add now) to the saucepan and bring to a boil
  • Cover saucepan and cook for about 10 – 12 minutes (gravy will become a bit thick)
  • ** If using 2% milk add it now and boil for another 3 – 4 minutes in a low flame
  • Serve with pittu, idiyappam (stringhoppers) or rice

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