Sambar a combination of lentil and vegetable curry is a popular dish of Tamil Nadu. Sambar is very often prepared in Tamil Nadu to suit all occasions (including festivals and marriages). It goes well with Idli, Dosa, Upma, Ven Pongal, steamed Rice and so on.
To cut down cooking time, the spices needed to prepare sambar are powdered and kept as a single Sambar Podi (Powder). The practice of making sambar podi at home is diminishing, as Sambar Powder is easily available in all grocery shops in small volumes and at affordable price. However, there is no match to the sambar powder prepared at home as it is fresh and can be stored even for few months without compromising in taste.
If the quantity of sambar podi required is more and if you don’t have enough time, the necessary spices can be powdered from the nearest flour mill. If the quantity required is less, this can be easily prepared at home with a mixer grinder.
Here is my version of sambar powder, though minor variations are there from family to family. Coriander and red chilli are the major ingredients of sambar powder. For the given amount of spices, I got 3 cups of sambar powder approximately.
- Coriander seeds – 50 gm
- Red chilli – 50 gm
- Toor dal or split pigeon pea – ¼ cup
- Bengal gram – ¼ cup
- Black pepper – ¼ cup
- Urad dal – 1 table spoon
- Cumin seeds – 1 table spoon
- Fenugreek seeds – 1 table spoon
- Mustard – 1 table spoon
- Whole turmeric – 1 to 2 pieces
- Curry leaves – 10 to 12 no
- Dry roast curry leaves in a pan (I did this in microwave oven); break turmeric into pieces and roast slightly in a dry pan; add red chilli with little salt and roast till chilli is crisp (adding salt helps to avoid irritation in throat while frying); add remaining ingredients in the dry pan, roast them till crisp.
- Too much frying is not necessary; roasting helps to grind the spices easily and keeps the sambar powder fresh for longer period.
- In a mixer add turmeric, red chilli and grind it to a powder.
- Add remaining items and grind them to a fine powder.
- Cool and store it in a air tight container. This will be fresh for minimum 3 months.
- You can dry the spices in hot sunlight (mid day) also instead of roasting in a pan.
- This powder can be used to prepare dishes like kuzhambu, poriyal, kootu etc., in addition to sambar.
- As quantity of asafetida used varies in different dishes, I have not included in this powder. You may add asafetida at the time of cooking.
- The quantity of sambar powder required to prepare sambar depends on the quantity of toor dal, tamarind used in sambar and individual taste.