Tomato Tambuli: Kannada-Style Tomato Raita
Image Credit: Tomato Tambuli is a curd based cooling drink| Instagram - @ginger.vinger

How many ways can you make a Raita? Whatever the count is, it surely can't be as versatile, smooth and delicious as Karnataka's Tambuli, meaning curd-based cooling drink. These are made with a variety of veggies. Tomato Tambuli belongs to this vast range of Tambulis. It is full of simplicity, ease of cooking and savouriness. Tomatoes and chillies sauteed with tempering of just cumin are turned into a paste with coconut to get a smooth and thick consistency. Buttermilk infused into it, at last, makes it an uncommon but gustatory pleasure truly worth experiencing. The quintessential South Indian tempering of curry leaves, chillies, and urad dal makes it all the more tempting.

Tomato Tambuli is native to Karnataka | Picture credit: Instagram - @tastetherapy_


The Cultural Significance Of Tambuli

Tambuli is a curd-based cuisine native to Karnataka, and it's considered a form of Raita because of being based on buttermilk or curd. The word ThambuliI explains a lot about the purpose and importance of this dish. Tambuli comes from the Kannada word Thampu, which means cool or cold and thus Tambuli is known as a cooling food item eaten with lunch. It is a type of raita or buttermilk eaten in the Indian state of Karnataka

The dish involves grinding lightly sauteed vegetables with little spices and coconut, followed by the addition of yoghurt and tempering with curry leaves. The veggies used for making Tambuli are many including spinach, onion, carrots and beetroots.  This is not it, there are many varieties of this dish, made with spices and herbs. These are Menthe Thambuli with fenugreek, and Shunti Thambuli with ginger. The herbs traditionally used are the leaves of Basale soppu or Malabar Spinach, Kaki Kudi soppu or Wonderberry leaves, Doddapatre soppu or Ajwain leaves.

Preparation: 15 minutes

Cooking: 7-10 minutes

Servings: 2


  • 1 tsp ghee - 1 tsp
  • ½ tsp  cumin seeds 
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes 
  • 2 green chillies 
  • ¼ cup grated coconut 
  • 1 tsp salt - 1 tsp
  • ½ cup buttermilk or whisked yoghourt

For tempering:

  • 1 tsp oil 
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds 
  • ½ tsp white lentils  
  • A few curry leaves 
  • 1 red chilli


  • In the pan heat ghee, add cumin seeds and let it splutter.
  • Then add tomatoes, and green chillies and saute them until tomatoes become mushy.
  • Turn off the flame and allow the tomatoes to cool.
  • Then put the tomatoes in a blender, add grated coconut and salt and grind it into a paste. Add a little water.
  • Pour the paste into a bowl.
  • To this add whisked curd or buttermilk and mix everything well.
  • For tempering, heat oil in a vessel, add mustard seeds, white lentils, a few curry leaves and one red chilli into it and let it splutter.
  • Add this tempering to the Tomato Tambuli and stir everything gently.
  • Serve with rice.

Tomato Tambuli is surely a healthy bowl of curd-based food for the minimal cooking and oil used in preparing it. For those completely new to the dish, Tomato Tambuli may look like a hybrid between Tomato Soup and Raita. Include it in your lunch as a side dish and enjoy it with rice and sabzi.