A fool-proof recipe to make sambhar powder at home using basic ingredients. It can be used to prepare authentic South Indian delicacies like Sambhar, kootu, curries & gravy. This spice powder is prepared by roasting lentils and spices which is then grounded to form a fine powder. It can be made in advance & stored.
If you are a South Indian then you would have surely been asked by your non South Indian friends to make sambhar for them at many points in your life! Making sambhar is truly an art and an experience. You need to carefully choose the ingredients that go into it, plan the steps and then go about making this dish. For those of you who are not aware of this South Indian delicacy called "Sambhar", I would suggest that you befriend a South Indian immediately and then bribe them to make it for you or visit a restaurant that serves it. But before that let me tell you what is Sambhar. It is a lentil-based vegetable stew or chowder cooked in a tamarind broth along with veggies. Tastes best when served with rice, idli, dosa and/or wada. It is popular in South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil cuisines. Let me assure you one thing, once you taste it, you will never forget it ever and of course crave for more!
Sambhar powder is a crucial ingredient to make sambhar. Duh! As a family, we have never got store made sambhar powder ever. We always make it at home and that is why our homemade sambhar tastes so much better, as per anyone who has ever had it. The recipe that I have has been in our family for generations. Every next generation has learnt it from the previous and there have hardly been any changes made to the original recipe. After mom, it has been my aunt (mom's sister) who freshly prepares sambhar powder in bulk for us. She always sends over some whenever someone is travelling to the US. It never really occurred to me that I should feature this recipe on the blog until few readers messaged me to share the recipe. This time when I was visiting my family in Bombay, I decided to make a note of this recipe from my aunt and share it here for all of you.
I feel so good today featuring a handed down family recipe on the blog that it makes me take a little pride in my profession. It's my way of preserving this recipe in this virtual world forever for the generations to come. The crux of the recipe is to roast these ingredients and then grind them to make a fine powder. Now, traditionally my grandma would roast these lentils and spices on terraces directly under the sun. She would leave it there for nearly two days and then grind it all to a fine powder. But things have changed today. We use the pan method to roast all the ingredients. In a thick bottomed pan, roast chana dal, tur dal, coriander seeds, dried red chillies, peppercorns and fenugreek seeds separately.
You can adjust the red chillies depending on the spice levels that you can take. Allow it to cool down completely before grinding it along with turmeric powder. Remember, you have to grind it to a fine powder so you need to use a really good blender like this one for this recipe. The best thing about this spice powder is that it can be made in large quantity and stored in air tight container for months. Now you wondering how to use this sambhar powder? Fret not, I am here to tell you just that. Sambhar powder can be used to make the traditional Sambhar, kootu or curry. Adding this powder to any of these dishes will elevate the taste and make the dish more palatable. I normally share some with my friends so that they too can prepare sambhar the traditional way. Do you want some too?
How to make sambhar powder at home
Every house is home to some traditional mix of spice powders. We all cannot do without them as they help us make our cooking easier and better. I would love to hear what are your kitchen secrets that are must haves. Leave a comment below and if possible also share the recipe for the same. I would also love to hear from you if you or your family has a different recipe to make sambhar powder. Meanwhile, here are some of my kitchen essentials without which I cannot function in my kitchen - Sesame Seed Powder/Ellu Pudi, Dhania Jeera Powder, Milk Masala, Homemade Turmeric Powder and Homemade Garam Masala.