Kumbakonam Kadappa: A Warm & Comforting Breakfast Side Dish
Image Credit: Archana's Kitchen

A mildly-spiced side dish, native to the Thanjavur/Kumbakonam region in Tamil Nadu, you can often spot the Kumbakonam kadappa on multiple canteen menus or local eateries at breakfast. A by-product of the Chola king’s rule in the region, the curry came about when it was created by a chef named Kadappa, who was one of the many chefs for the king at the time, Raja Raja Cholan. Because of the king’s passion for good food, cooks in the royal kitchen were constantly encouraged to try their hand at creating new dishes and would be rewarded handsomely if it turned out well.

While the original recipe of the kadappa is not known to most, the version that is most commonly found today borrows influences from Maldives and Indonesia, which is the extent to which the Chola kingdom ran. Food habits of the past were strongly influenced by the environment the king lived in and the food at the palace featured ingredients like millets, green gram, pepper and locally available spices. However, with time, swaps were made to suit the sensibility of the regional palette which meant using chillies instead of pepper and moong dal instead of lentils.



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  • ½ cup yellow moong dal
  • 1 large potato
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, slit halfway
  • 7-8 curry leaves
  • ½ cup freshly grated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon Bengal gram
  • ½ inch piece cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 7-8 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 1 pod cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander
  • Salt to taste


Image Credits: Dinamani

  • In a mixer jar, add the grated coconut along with the garlic, ginger, fennel seeds, cardamom, cinnamon and Bengal gram. Add a tablespoon of water and grind into a smooth paste and set aside. In a pressure cooker, toast the moong dal for 5-6 minutes and then proceed to wash off the dirt.
  • Add it back to the pressure cooker along with a cup of water, turmeric powder and a peeled and quartered potato. Pressure cook for three whistles and allow it to cool slightly before removing the lid. Extract the potato and leave it to cool separately.
  • Heat some oil in another pan and make a tempering using mustard and cumin seeds, curry leaves and green chillies. Once they begin to splutter, add the chopped onions and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add in the chopped tomato and saute until the tomatoes begin to soften and release their juices. Season lightly with salt.
  • Once the tomatoes have cooked down halfway, add the coconut paste to the pan and mix it in. As it begins to cook down further and release its aroma, mash the quartered potato in. Mix everything thoroughly before adding the cooked moong dal. Season with salt and add some water to thin down the curry slightly.
  • Cover and cook for five minutes and check for seasoning to adjust, if necessary. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot alongside idlis, dosas, appams, etc.