This deliciously spiced and seasoned yogurt curry is a longtime family favorite. Check out this yummy recipe for my Mom’s Moru Curry, a traditional dish in South Indian cuisine. Beautifully simple and packed with flavor, this Kerala Moru Curry recipe is sure to become a favorite in your family’s dinner rotation.
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What is Moru Curry?
A Kerala style curry, Moru is a yogurt based curry that can be made either with or without coconut. The word “Moru” refers to “buttermilk” in Malayalam. My mom’s recipe actually calls for curd or yogurt instead of buttermilk.
Sour curd is whisked in water to get a buttermilk like consistency. Moru curry can also be made with traditional buttermilk acquired from churning butter. Both ways the curry tastes just like the authentic dish I grew up with.
Also known as Nadan Moru Curry, Moru Charu, Kachiya Moru or Pulissery, Moru Curry is a part of the Onam Sadya.
Spiced with green chilies for heat, cumin for perfumed warmth and ground coconut, this delicious dish is perfect on a hot summer’s day. No matter what you call it, this meal is sure to please.
Why this recipe works
My mom’s recipe uses ground coconut, green chilies and cumin paste, all of which bring a great deal of flavor to the curry. It can be made without adding the coconut paste depending on your flavor preferences, too.
While many of you are familiar with my cooking, I learned from the very best – my mom. This recipe is her version of Moru Curry, and it is delicious.
If you are wanting to make this Keralan specialty at home, I highly suggest you try this delightful and simple pulissery recipe.
While sometimes this dish is simply served over rice, I sometimes choose to add in a whole host of vegetables to turn it into a full-on meal.
If you love veggies as much as I do, I suggest trying my recipe with my favorites for this curry: taro root, ash gourd, yam and malabar cucumber (yellow cucumber or vellarikka).
If you opt to serve it as a plain pulissery without veggies, don’t worry. It is jam-packed with flavor and will be sure to tantalize your tastebuds all the same. Happy eating!
How should I prepare my vegetables for this curry?
My personal favorite vegetables to add to Moru Curry or pulissery are taro root (a.k.a. arbi), ash gourd, yam and malabar cucumber. Follow the instructions below to make these vegetables the most flavorful:
- Taro root (arbi, chembu): Peel and steam or cook taro roots in pan. Then lightly fry or sauté in coconut oil. Add to the buttermilk mixture.
- Ash gourd (kumbalanga): Peel, chop, boil or steam. Drain, add to the curd and coconut paste mixture.
- Yam: Peel, chop, steam or boil. Strain the water. Add steamed yam to the buttermilk mixture.
- Malabar cucumber (vellarikka): Peel, remove the seeds, chop and cook in water until tender. Drain the water and add to the curd mixture.
- Greens: Spinach, amaranth and drumstick leaves are some healthy options. You can either sauté the chopped leaves in coconut oil, until they wilt and add to the yogurt mixture. Or you can blanch, mash and then use in the pulissery recipe.
How to Make Moru Curry
To make my mom’s Moru Curry recipe, there are five steps you’ll need to complete. First, make your coconut paste.
1. Making Coconut Paste
1. Add ½ cup grated fresh coconut, 1 teaspoon chopped green chilies (equivalent to 2 to 3 chilies) and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds in a spice grinder or blender.
2. Add 4 to 5 tablespoons water and grind to smooth paste. Set aside.
Now you are ready to move on to step 2, making the buttermilk mixture.
2. Making Curd Mixture
1. In a saucepan or pot, add 1 cup sour curd (yogurt).
TIP: If your curd (or yogurt) isn’t sour tasting, keep it at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours until the taste becomes sour. The curd should be sour and not rancid or spoiled. You should be able to smell the difference, with good curd smelling a bit sour and astringent.
2. Add 1 cup water and ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder. If you added more water to your coconut paste, then add less water at this step.
3. Whisk to a smooth buttermilk consistency.
4. Add the ground coconut paste from step 1.
5. Add salt as needed.
6. Mix buttermilk with paste and salt until well combined.
3. Making Moru Curry
1. Place the saucepan filled with the buttermilk-coconut mixture on the stovetop over low heat.
2. Whisk occasionally, every 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Let the mixture become hot, but do not allow it to come to a boil. When you see steam coming from the mixture, remove it from the heat. Cover and set aside. Boiling can curdle this delicate yogurt curry.
4. You are now ready to move on to step 3, tempering the spices.
Tempering is a vital step in Indian cooking. Unlike the term as it is known in America (which specifically refers to chocolate), tempering is all about extracting maximum flavor from spices.
To properly temper your spices for this Moru Curry recipe, I recommend using coconut oil. This will offer the most traditional and authentic flavor to the dish.
1. Heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds.
2. Let mustard seeds crackle. This is the magical part of tempering aka tadka! All of the spices in the oil are awakening when you hear that crackly sound.
3. Add 10 to 12 curry leaves, 7 to 8 fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) and 2 dry red chilies (broken in half without stems and seeds removed).
4. Add ¼ cup sliced shallots or pearl onions and ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger.
5. Mix and begin to sauté on a low heat.
6. Sauté until onions turn light golden or golden.
7. Now it is time to move on to step 4, which will assemble these component pieces.
5. Assembling Moru Curry
1. Pour entire tempering mixture in the cooked buttermilk, including the oil.
2. Cover and let the flavors infuse for a few minutes.
3. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves (optional) and serve moru curry hot or warm with steamed rice.
Expert Tips + FAQs
As Moru Curry is made from curd, I suggest to have it fresh. I would definitely not recommend to make it ahead of time. In Indian food culture and practices, we always give emphasis on having freshly cooked food. Food that is served hot or warm after it is cooked is good for health.
Oftentimes, Moru Curry or pulissery is served over steamed rice and can be garnished with fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves. I also love adding cooked chopped vegetables to mine. Either way, you’re sure to love it.
You can easily substitute your own favorite vegetables in this recipe. Zucchini or summer squash would make a nice substitute for the ash gourd and malabar cucumber, and potato could take the place of the taro. Other vegetables that would work nicely are pumpkins or winter squash, bell peppers or leafy greens like kale or spinach or drumstick leaves.
Certainly. If you do not enjoy the flavor of coconut or are allergic, simply omit making the coconut paste. Gently heat through the buttermilk and then add the fried tempering ingredients. Include half a teaspoon each of chopped green chilies and cumin seeds in the tempering. You can substitute ghee or a neutral oil for the coconut oil during the tempering step.
While our recipe uses curd (yogurt) whisked with water to approximate buttermilk, you can use 2 cups of real buttermilk that is obtained from making butter.
Gluten Free Recipes
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Moru Curry | Pulissery
For curd mixture
- 1 cup Curd (sour) or sour yogurt – 250 grams
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 cup water or add as required
For coconut paste
- ½ cup grated fresh coconut
- 2 to 3 green chillies
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 to 5 tablespoons water – for grinding or add as required
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 10 to 12 curry leaves
- 7 to 8 fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
- 2 dry red chilies – broken and seeds removed
- ¼ cup sliced pearl onions or 3 to 4 pearl onions
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped ginger or ½ inch ginger
- 1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves – optional
Making coconut paste
- Take grated fresh coconut, chopped green chillies and cumin seeds in a grinder or blender.
- Add water and grind to smooth paste. Set aside.
Making curd mixture
- In a saucepan or pot, add the sour curd (yogurt), water and turmeric powder.
- Whisk to a smooth consistency.
- Add salt (as needed) and ground coconut paste.
- Mix until well combined.
Making Moru Curry
- Keep the saucepan or pot with the curd mixture on stovetop on a low heat.
- Keep on stirring at intervals.
- Let mixture become hot. When you steam coming from the mixture, switch off the heat. Do stir at intervals. Do not boil. Cover and set aside.
- Heat coconut oil in a small pan. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
- Add curry leaves, fenugreek seeds and dry red chillies (broken and seeds removed).
- Add sliced pearl onions and finely chopped ginger.
- Mix and begin to sauté on a low heat.
- Sauté until onions turn light golden or golden.
Making moru curry
- Pour entire tempering mixture with the oil in the cooked buttermilk.
- Cover and let the flavors infuse for a few minutes.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves (optional) and serve hot or warm with steamed rice.
- Sour curd: Add buttermilk, preferably sour.
- Veggies: Feel free to make moru curry with cooked vegetables. I like yam, taro root, ash gourd and malabar cucumber. You can add greens like spinach, amaranth or drumstick leaves.
- Coconut oil: The authentic recipe calls for coconut oil, but you can try making moru curry with any neutral tasting oil or use ghee (clarified butter).
- Coconut: Desiccated coconut (unsweetened) can be used in a pinch. Make sure to soak the desiccated coconut flakes in warm water for 20 minutes before making the paste. Coconut can be skipped too. Simply gently heat through the buttermilk and then add the fried tempering ingredients. Include half a teaspoon each of cumin seeds and chopped green chillies in the tempering.