CHENA PUZHUKKU - Kerala style stir fried Yam, seasoned with Coconut and spices

I am an absolute lover of Kerala food, their life style, culture and have a big bunch of best buddies from the literate state. Needless to say, I have a strong connect with God's own country and its people. Kerala, popularly known as the " Land of Spices" has many vegetarian delicacies to offer. The use of Coconut and its oil in abundance imparts a distinct flavour and taste to the food that is so very   unique to this state. Coupled with pepper, cumin and other spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamom, garlic, asafoetida and red chilies add more zest to Kerala cuisine. Click here to know more on Kerala cuisine.

Today's post is about a festive recipe prepared during Thiruvathira celebrations in Kerala - known as Chena Puzhukku. Every region in Kerala has its own style of preparing this delicacy. Likewise, every household will have its choice of vegetables that goes into this recipe. Ideally, Puzhukku is meant to be a mixture of tubers (Yam - Chena, Tarrow - Chembu)  and lentils ( Green gram - Cherupayar) cooked in a coconut and spice based paste . Alternately, it can also be prepared with a mixture of other vegetables like Chinese Potato (Koorkai) and Raw Banana (Vazhakkai) and Brown peas ( Vanpayar). The recipe by itself is wholesome and provides the necessary carbs from the tubers and the day's protein needs from the lentils. It is usually served with a bowl of "Matta Ari Kanji" ( Red rice gruel).

I have skipped the lentils in my recipe as I served it along with spicy Mangalore Rasam that already had added Toor dhal ( Refer notes). The pictures were clicked 3 years back. Please bear with the photos. on for my version. 
Click here for Mangalore Rasam recipe.

Preparation time: 15 min
Cooking time: 10 min
Recipe level: Easy
Spice Level: Medium
Cuisine: Kerala
Serves: 2-3

200 gm Yam 
5 tbsp fresh grated coconut
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper corns
4 -5 green chilies
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 -3 red chilies
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Urad dhal
2 -3 sprigs of curry leaves
30 ml of Coconut oil
a generous pinch of Asafoetida
Salt to taste

  • Peel, wash and cut the Yam into bite sized cubes. Pressure cook or microwave until soft. Need not mash. Set aside. 
  • Grind together coconut, cumin seeds, pepper, green chilies, fenugreek to a paste with little water.
  • Heat Coconut oil in a wok or Kadai. When hot, add the mustard seeds. When it pops, add the urad dhal and fry until golden. Add the red chilies, curry leaves and asafoetida.
  • Next add the ground coconut and spice paste and cook simmered for few minutes. Add yam, salt to taste  and mix until well combined, Cook for few more minutes and switch off.
  • Serve hot with gruel or spicy rasam and rice.

  • Adjust the quantity of green chilies, red chilies and peppers as per your preference and spice level.
  • Note that Roots and tuber vegetables can take more chilies than other vegetables.
  • If you prefer to add lentils, then soak 50 gms of green gram the previous night and pressure cook with a little salt along with the yam.


  1. This stir fry looks so yummy

  2. mouthwatering one...yumm yum yummy!

  3. A new & interesting stir fry...................

  4. The ever classic dish. Love it. Goes so well with rice and indeed heavenly with rasam.

  5. i love this curry.. one of my favorite one.......


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