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From the kitchens of India: Chettinad Mutton kuzhambu (Karaikudi mutton curry)

The Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu is well-known for its non-vegetarian meals. Chicken curry, mutton curry, fish curry, adirasam, and many other dishes are famous in Tamil cuisine. The hotness (spiciness), diversity of spices, and freshly ground spices for non-vegetarian foods are what make Chettinad cuisine so famous.

The spicy, hot, and aromatic Chettinad mutton curry, also known as kuzhambu or chettinad mutton curry, is flavoured with unique and aromatic spices such as dagad phool (kal pasi or black stone flower), nutmeg and mace (jaiphal and javitri), staranise, and shallots (sambar onions), which are essential for this dish. You won’t be able to taste chettinad mutton if you cut corners with the components.

The unique spices used in the recipe give the chettinad mutton kuzhambu/curry a fragrant and unique flavour and taste.

The ideal accompaniments for the chettinad mutton curry are parotta, roti, idli, dosa, idiyappam, or just plain rice.

  • Setup time: 20 minutes
  • 50 minutes for cooking
  • Cuisine: Chettinad
  • Serves four to five


  • 600 gms of mutton

To grind and roast the masala

  • Six tiny cloves
  • Six little green cardamoms
  • One-inch cinnamon stick
  • Star anise: 1
  • 1 tablespoon of dagad phool, or black stone flower
  • Mace (Javitri): One blossom
  • One tiny piece of nutmeg (jaiphal), about 1/4th tsp
  • 2. Tbsp of coriander seeds
  • Cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon
  • One teaspoon of black pepper seeds
  • Tsp of fennel seeds
  • 4 tbsp fresh coconut

For mutton that is simmering

  • 14. One tablespoon of oil
  • 15. One large onion, 160 grammes; 16. Two medium-sized tomatoes, 190 grammes
  • 17. 4 teaspoons of ginger and garlic paste
  • 18. 1 tablespoon of chilli powder
  • 19. 2 tablespoons of coriander powder
  • 20. 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 21. 1 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 22. Three cups of water

Curry or Gravy

  • 23. 1/4 cup of oil
  • 24. Two bay leaves; 25. Fennel seeds (saunf) – half a teaspoon
  • 26. At least 20 curry leaves
  • 27. 100g of shallots
  • 28. Four green chillis (slit)
  • 29. Half a cup of water
  • 30. One-fourth cup chopped cilantro


  • Finely chop the onions and shallots and set aside.
  • Combine all the ingredients listed under “For roast and grind masala” and roast them on a low flame, without using any oil, until they start to smell and turn a light brown colour. Finally, add the fresh coconut, roast it gently, and turn it off. Once it has cooled, powder it finely.

Cooking Mutton

  • Place all the materials listed under “boiling mutton ingredients” into a pressure cooker. When the mutton is cooked, or until four to five whistles sound, add the water, shut the lid, and pressurise. After ten minutes of resting, remove the lid. Set it away. Makes a simple curry using meat.

Preparing the Curry/Kuzhumbhu

  • First, fill a frying pot with oil. Once it’s hot, add the complete spices, including bay leaves, fennel seeds, and curry leaves. Give it a little period of spluttering. When the shallots are tender and golden in colour, add them and sauté.
  • Add green chilies and sauté for two minutes. Next, add the roasted ground powder and roast it alongside the onion mixture on medium to low heat for two to three minutes, being careful not to burn the spices. After adding 1/2 cup of water, simmer for 3 minutes.
  • Only add the cooked mutton liquid—not the meat—and boil for ten minutes, or until a curry-like consistency forms.
  • Mix thoroughly after adding the mutton chunks and any leftover liquid. Simmer for five minutes. The spices are cooked to perfection and the mutton kuzambhu begins to release oil.
  • Stir well after adding the chopped coriander leaves. Reduce the heat and cover and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes. Turn off.
  • After letting it rest for ten minutes or so, the mutton curry (karaikudi/chettinadu) is ready.
  • Serve idli, dosa, or idiyappam alongside this fiery, spicy chettinad mutton kalumbu.


  • You can adjust the amount of chillies or chilli powder to your preference.
  • After adding the coconut paste to the roasted spices, you can add poppy seeds (kus-kus).
  • Add water to the curry or kuzhambu as needed to achieve the desired consistency. The consistency of the sauce in this chettinad mutton kuzhambu is more curry-like, making it suitable for eating with dosa, idli, or parotta.
  • My curry thickened as it cooled, so I added a cup of water to adjust the consistency.
  • You may use the same ingredients to create with veggies or chicken.

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