Recipe for Thiruvadarai Thalagam

This is my 100th blog post and that's all thanks to my fellow food-blogger friends and readers who have encouraged me, all along the way.
I've been promising to post the recipe of Chettinad Tomato Paruppu Pacchidi for a while, but then I wanted my 100th post to be something very traditional.
It is Thalagam. Please don't confuse it with a sambhar or a curry. It's neither. But one taste of this and the flavours will get etched in your taste buds forever. I actually made it for the first time last evening with no thoughts about posting this as my 100th. I just followed my craving, called up mom, told her I want to eat Thalagam NOW. Scribbling down the approximations dictated by mother, I set out in pursuit of that perfect taste.

If you are wondering what Thalagam is all about, this is what it is. A medley of vegetables cooked in a paste of roasted red chillies, sesame seeds, mustard seeds, split black gram and grated coconut. A swish of tamarind puree rounds up the bold flavours together. The result is a spicy, mildly sweet, tangy curry offset by the nutty taste of roasted sesame seeds. This almost belongs to the Sambhar family and yet not quite for two reasons. One, it is made on special occasions like Thiruvadirai festival to eat with a sweet floury dish and two, you don't add dal (cooked lentils) in this curry.

I managed to take pictures step-by-step this time. I hope that makes it much easier for you to try out this 'steeped-in-Tambram-tradition' recipe atleast once. Once is enough. After that the taste will pursue you for life, pursue you enough to make this often. I can promise that much.

2 cups of mixed vegetables (Traditionally yellow pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, arbi)
1 tsp oil
1/2 cup thin tamarind extract obtained from medium lemon sized ball of tamarind
Salt to taste

For the spice paste:
4 dried red chillies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 T udad dal (split black gram dal)
4-5 slices of fresh coconut
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds (Methi)
Roast these ingredients in a spot of oil for a minute or two and keep aside.
1 T sesame seeds- roast this separately as it browns much faster than the other ingredients.

Cooling the roasted ingredients before grinding to a paste

The essence of thalagam - spice paste

Cool the roasted ingredients. Put them in a coffee grinder or mixer and grind to a fine paste with 1/4 cup of water. Keep the paste aside.


1. In a non-stick pot, heat a tsp of oil. Throw in the vegetables. Saute for a minute. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pot and cover with lid. The vegetables will cook in 10 minutes or so.

Sauteeing the vegetables (I used these vegetables because I didn't have the traditional ones on hand. Unplanned cooking you see! )

2. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the ground spice paste and the tamarind extract. Put in the required amount of salt, about 1 1/2 tsp, a pinch of turmeric powder to the boiling thalagam.
3. Keep the flame on low, cover the pot with a lid, keep it at a slow simmer for 8-10 minutes so that the vegetables can soak up the flavours of the spices.
4. After 10 minutes, remove from flame and serve with steamed rice or broken wheat.


I added a small block of jaggery to the thalagam as I was missing the sweet tinge that pumpkin lends to it. Despite not using the traditional vegetables, the taste of this one came very close to what my taste buds remembered from the years.


Cooking Memoir said...

Well, i thought thalagam was something different. Vaguely remember that name. But i do make something similar for thiruvadirai to go with the sweet kali. I don't add sesame seeds. Next time when i make i will add sesame.

Congrats on 100th post.


Cooking Memoir said...

Well, i thought thalagam was something different. Vaguely remember that name. But i do make something similar for thiruvadirai to go with the sweet kali. I don't add sesame seeds. Next time when i make i will add sesame.

Congrats on 100th post.


Anita said...

Now I see it! Looking good...beautiful veges in a tangy gravy. And seems to be special so will definitely try this Tambram dish. To many more 100s.

Anita said...

Now I see it! Looking good...beautiful veges in a tangy gravy. And seems to be special so will definitely try this Tambram dish. To many more 100s.

Monisha said...

Hi Nandita -
Congratulations on your century!! This is just a start and hope we'll have the pleasure of reading hundreds more.

Thank you for your step-by-step illustration of the preparation of Thalagam, and the end result looks every bit as delicious as you described it.

sudha said...

Congratulations Nandita on your 100th post. All the best and looking forward to many more recipes from you.
Liked the way you represented '100'.

Thalagam is new to me. Thanks for your detailed steps, i will definetly try.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations,what a fabulous journey it is. Thank you for this recipe, i have not heard of this recipe. Will defanitely give this a try.

Vaishali said...

Wow, that's a NICE 100th post. Btw, you won't believe it, I have made the number ten with ingredients for my 10th post in the series 'Ton of Protein'. Just the way you have made your 100. Great minds do think alike, don't they? ;-)
And hey, congratulations on your 100th. You are fast. I too started my blog in March this year, but I am trailing much behind. Way to go, Girl!

Foodie's Hope said...

Looks delicious, N!! My mouth is watering!! I will try this!! Yum!!

Foodie's Hope said...

I forgot to congratulate you on your 100th post!! HURRAY!! :)))

Krithika said...

Yay ! first one to comment. I have never tasted thalagam and I am a south indian :-) Didn't know this was made for thiruvathirai. I thought Kali and Kootu was made. Will check with mom. Anyway, thalagam looks delicious. Will try it soon. Thanks for sharing and congratulations !!

shilpa said...

Congratulations on your 100th post. Thats an amazing dish. I will love to try it soon.

Paz said...

One hundred!? Wow! Congratulations! Keep blogging!


Priya S&S said...

The curry looks delicious Nandita! Though iam from Tamil Nadu i have never heard of thalagam before. Will definetely try it out.
And congratulations on your 100th post !!

rokh said...

wow! happy 100th post! do continue blogging and this dish looks superb.

Chandrika said...


You are making my mouth water with this delicious dish and your equally enticing post! I am going to make it tomorrow...My Thanks to your mom and to you for sharing this delicacy with us... :-)

Neo said...

Congrats on ur 100th post.

Look forward to more yummmmy recipies...

Pavani said...

Great dish for your 100th post.. Never heard of thalagam before, sounds delicious. Great pictures. This is going on my "to-do" list.
Great work Nandita.

Anupama said...

Wow I am the first one to Congratulate on your 100th post. And a very nice and spicy post that is. Thanx to all you South Indian Bloggers people like me can try out real authentic south indian cuisine. Will try out this one. Can I skip the Okra?
BTW have tagged you for a meme.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations yet again Nandita :-)
The Thalagam looks delicious...I can already feel the tangy flavor on my taste buds...I was planning to make a blissful dhansak with the pumpkin and now you have brought in confusion with this traditional recipe :-( I knew I should have got a bigger pumpkin !! hehe

Raji said...

what a treat! I'm drooling..

Congrats on your 100th post. Here's wishing many more hundreds to come, recipes ofcourse :-)

Have a great day pal.

Prema Sundar said...

Congratulations on ur 100 th post.
Thalagam sounds interesting.. haven't tasted this. We use dal in sambar but thalagam doesn't have toor dal.. I love varieties of gravies which go well with rice and now I have found one .will cook this and let u know.. thanks for this wonderful traditional recipe. Keep posting and sure we do learn a lot from ur posts.

Nandita said...

Friends, friends! I goofed up- I had enabled comment moderation and forgot all about it...I was quite sad to see that not one person had responded to my post this time (Ok Im not the one to get comments by the hoards, but atleast my few good pals out here who are always there to encourage me??) And then as a last hope (foodie's hope hehe) i thot I'll check in moderate comments, and there it is all sitting, waiting for me, your love and wishes...YEAYYY made my day, i wish you could see me BEAM now!

Thanks to ALL OF YOU for your warm hearted comments and I truly wish you'll this HOT FAVOURITE food of mine - you'll love it!

ALso, forgot to add, the traditional recipe also has eggplants, all veggies can be cut into 1" pieces.

ANupama- Okra can be left out, there is no okra in the original.

Raji-Welcome to saffrontrail dear, and thanks

Paz- mailing you on 'that'

Thanks again friends, you truly made my day!

Hema said...

Congrats on your 100th post! 100 recipes (almost) in 7 months. Great effort! Ambrosial Thalagam looks yummy. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Wow! 100th post! Good going!! May you have a million!

That recipe is really good! Wanna make it soon!

Anonymous said...

congrats on ur 100 th post. this recipe is really extroordianry and u presented it so well. have newver tasted it but am going top make it soon.

shammi said...

Congrats on your 100th post. And WOW, Nandita, I'm going to make thalagam the very first chance I get! Will let you know how it turns out :)

sra said...

Hi Nandita! Congrats on your 100th. I've never heard of this but it's close to something called pulusu which is made in Andhra Pradesh, minus the coconut. And pumpkin or not, a bit of jaggery is added at the end. Nice Photos

Nandita said...

Hema, IP, Shaheen, Shammi and SRA- Thanks ladies, i felt great sharing a bit of tradition with my blogger friends!

Ayesha Seerin said...

I've been looking for tamil brahmin cooking and am reallly happy to c yours .. wow this looks great ... will definitely try it out

Lakshmi said...


I have been reading your blog for quite some days, and decided to comment today after reading Taalagam receipe. I absolutely love Kali and this dish combination and it brought back all the lovely memories of my mom making this every tiruvadirai!

Thanks so much for the recipe, I will try and make it this year at least. Have been trying to make it every year for the last 7 years but it has never happened, maybe this year will be good :-)

Keep up the good work and post more of our recipes!


Miri said...

Thanks so much for this delicious recipe - today wasnt the festival day, but I still made it because I wanted to - and it was so good that every last bit got cleaned up!!!

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