Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sambar Powder

     The term ‘SAMBARA’ in Kannada means “pungent or aromatic vegetable substance used as flavoring” as per the dictionary. It is a vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind and toor dal, and is very popular in the cooking of southern regions of India.
     The origins of this dish is uncertain though legends has it that it originated in the kitchen of Thanjavur Marathas ruler Shahuji, during the 18th century from the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.[1] It is believed that Shahji had a liking for a dish called amti which had kokum as one of its main ingredients. In one particular season, the kokum which was imported from the Maratha homeland ran out of supply and someone suggested to him that the locals used tamarind pulp for sourness. Shahji experimented the dish with the toor dal, vegetables, spices and the tamarind pulp served his coterie and his cousin, Sambhaji who was visiting him. The court liked the dish and named it sambhar after the guest of the day, Sambhaji.
     Here's my version of the Sambar powder recipe, as some of you have asked me the secret behind the finger licking delicious sambar coming from my kitchen. Thanks to Mom and here I proudly present her sambar powder's recipe.


Asfoiteda or hing powder - 1 tsp
Chana dal - 2 - 3 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 1 cup
Cumin seeds - 1/4 cup
Curry leaves - 4 springs
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Red chili - 4-5


1. Dry roast all the ingredients separately for 3 to 4 minutues except hing (hing gets burnt) on slow flame until they give a nice aroma and turns to a light brown color.
2. Let cool and dry grind everything together, along with hing and store in an air tight container.
3. Stores well for a couple of months.


1) Do not stock on large quantities of Sambar powder as freshly ground is far superior compared to months old prepared powder or store bought one.