Tamarind Soup

According to ancient Indian medicine systems Siddha and Ayurveda, tamarind fruit is believed to have numerous healing powers. It is a quintessential ingredient of the commonly prepared south Indian curries like sambar, rasam, or kuzhambu. In a recent study it was found that we can largely reduce the loss of nutrients while cooking vegetables by boiling them in tamarind juice instead of  plain water, which we still follow while making these curries. Besides we also make pungent tamarind soup (puli thanni) and sweet tamarind juice (panakam) that have been customarily served on the day of fasting for its excellent detoxifying property.  Obviously tamarind juice or tamarind soup can be included into our detox diet which aids in weight loss.

Our grandparents used old black tamarinds alone, but later we switched to new brown tamarinds as we don’t like to see darker sambar. As per Siddha medicine, new tamarinds are considered as kapha dosha pacifier, whereas old tamarinds as kapha & vata pacifier. So I have started using old tamarind for making pulikulambu or other darker curries, and new tamarind exclusively for sambar. 

Tamarind soup is a traditional winter (or monsoon) soup, we used to take tamarind soup and lentils chutney along with rice, and I had seen my non-vegetarian friends taking tamarind soup along with roasted sun-dried fish. Whenever my grandmother sees the first spell of rains, she asks my aunts to prepare puli thanni & paruppu thuvaiyal, now I understand that it is mainly because her old tamarind pacifies kapha & vata dosha that are normally aggravated during monsoon.

It tastes divine while taking puli thanniyum paruppu thuvaiyalum along with traditional hand-pounded rice (kai-kuthal arisi) and sutta (or microwaved) appalam.

Generally we don’t value the fruits, vegetables, spices, or herbs which are available plentifully and also we fail to appreciate the goodness of a meal if it is prepared with humble inexpensive ingredients.  Puli thanniyum paruppu thuvaiyalum is one such meal that does not get enough recognition especially by the teens & children. I feel it is we, the parents, have the responsibility to encourage the next generation to take healthy meals that are passed onto us by our parents & grandparents. So here is the recipe for puli thanni & paruppu thuvaiyal, you may also check out the preparation of panakam, prepared during sashti viratham, at the end of this post.

Puli thanni (tamarind soup)

Yields: 650 ml

Time taken: 5 min.


  • A lemon sized old tamarind
  • 1 tsp of sesame oil
  • Mustard seeds
  • Black gram (urad dal)
  • Bengal gram
  • 2 red chillies
  • A few curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp of asafoetida powder (hing)
  • 750 ml of water
  • 3/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of powdered jaggery (optional)

Cooking Procedure:

  • Microwave tamarind in 50 ml water.
  • Extract tamarind juice by using remaining 700 ml of water and keep aside.
  • Heat a pan with oil in medium flame.
  • Add mustard seeds, black gram, Bengal gram and fry for few seconds.
  • Tear curry leaves & split red chillies into pieces and add into the pan.
  • Add chilli powder, turmeric powder & hing and fry for few seconds.
  • Pour tamarind juice into the pan and bring it to a boil.
  • Add salt & jaggery and boil the soup until jaggery is dissolved.
  • Remove from flame.
  • Sprinkle fresh coriander leaves and serve the soup hot.

Paruppu Thuvaiyal  (chickpeas chutney)


  • 1/2 cup of Bengal gram (split chickpeas)
  • 5 red chillies
  • 3 pieces of coconut meat (each 1″)
  • 2 garlic pods
  • 3/4 tsp of salt

Thuvaiyal preparation:

  • Heat a pan with sesame oil (1/2 tsp) in medium flame.
  • Add Bengal gram into the pan and roast until the flavor is released.
  • Add red chillies and fry for few seconds in low flame until heated up.
  • Remove from flame and transfer to a large plate to cool them down.
  • Grind all the ingredients as shown below into a coarse or smooth thuvaiyal.
  • Mix paruppu thuvaiyal & cold-pressed sesame oil (chekku ennai) with kaikuthal arisi sadam, and serve with puli thanni and sutta appalam.

Panakam  (tamarind juice)

We can prepare tamarind extract after microwaving it in 50 ml of water for a minute and then mix jaggery powder, ginger powder & cardamom powder into tamarind juice to prepare delicious panakam. If you treat this as detox juice it is preferred to take panakam after sunset.


92 Comments Add yours

  1. Luv the writeups u put up along with the recipes 👌

    1. Megala says:

      Thank you!

    2. Megala says:

      Thank you so much!

  2. Parippu thogayal is an eternal favourite of mine! Love, love, love the look of yours! 🙂

    1. Megala says:

      Thanks, thanks, and thanks for the lovely comment! 🙂

  3. Sweet and Sour with Tamarind Soup – like the flavors!

    1. Megala says:

      Thank you!

  4. dpranita583 says:

    Khubsurut ! Mouth watering. Hello, can you write for me for food post?.

    1. Megala says:

      Sure, please send me a mail through contact page.
      Thanks for dropping by.

  5. nancyc says:

    Sounds like a wonderful soup!

    1. Megala says:

      Yes, thank you so much!

  6. Awesome soup for the winters!!

    1. Megala says:


  7. Dreamtemples says:

    This is an amazing post Megala! Although I knew that for some recipes like pulikaachal it was good to use equal quantities of old and new puli, I learnt a lot after reading this post about the actual health benefits of tamarind and why.
    Thank you for penning it so clearly…we need to preserve this wisdom handed down traditionally as our lifestyles change.

    1. Megala says:

      So true! Earlier they had a stock of large quantities of grocery for an year or more, because they knew that matured grains and other spices are more beneficial than newly harvested ones. Since we are unable to keep them in stock not more than a month, we can ask for old stock from the grocers to enjoy the benefits.
      Thank you so much for your kind comment!

      1. Dreamtemples says:

        Your reply brought back fond memories of those days! I too remember how my mother and periamma used to buy the yearly stock of thuvaram paruppu, puli, ulundu, varamilagai and so on in March April when the new harvests were brought in the mandy shops(wholesale shops)! After that came the ritual of sun-drying everything. We youngsters had the job of collecting the sun-dried items in containers each afternoon. And then everything was laid out to sun-dry the next morning. And so it went on!

      2. Megala says:

        Yes, indeed it was a scrupulous process, just can’t imagine how our grand mothers were able to do it with enthusiasm. Nevertheless all their hard work didn’t go waste, they led a healthy life, never hospitalized nor underwent any surgery till the end. 🙂

    1. Megala says:

      Yes, perfect for winter nights! Thank you.

  8. 3C Style says:

    I really like tamarind soup but never tried to make it myself. Yours looks very good. As always your pics are lovely.

    1. Megala says:

      Thank you!

  9. I can only get a jar of tamarind paste here! I love the taste and would love to make your soup!

    1. Megala says:

      Oh, so nice, hope you would like the sweet tamarind juice as well.
      Thank you so much.

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