Although it is found on many Indian menus around the world, a lot of people have been wondering what exactly this usually reddish powder is made of. Well, sambar powder is made up mostly of lentils or chilli peppers and sometimes other ingredients such as rice and coriander leaves. In addition, it generally contains some water to bring the proper texture that the dish needs.
In India and only in India, though, different variations use yellow cardamom rather than red ones. And instead of using lentils during cooking, tomatoes are often used as a base for sambar powder. On top of that, peppers are usually roasted to bring out their colour and aroma while they are mixed with the other ingredients before serving.
Indian food has always been healthy, tasty, and has medicinal values. As the name suggests, sambar powder is used to make sambar, which is an extremely tasty, vegetable-based lentil dish. Sambar is a very common and popular dish of south India and Sri Lanka. Now it is prepared worldwide and served with various foods like rice, idli, dosa, vada, bread, and chapati. Sambar has a unique tangy and spicy flavour.
Why should you try making sambar?
Despite being so yummy, sambar is a portion of healthy food rich in protein and vitamins. The main ingredient in sambar is lentils, which are rich in protein. In addition, Sambar is made of many vegetables like bottle gourd, pumpkin, Tomato, tamarind, eggplant, etc., which makes it a healthy part of the diet.
What is sambar powder made of?
Sambar powder is made by mixing differing Indian spices in different ratios. Therefore, it would be best to always buy Indian spices online from trusted brands. The colour of sambar powder also depends on the way it is made. Sometimes, it is made as an uttapam or a dosa batter, where the lentils are mixed with rice and coconut oil. But this may vary from region to region in India. In Maharashtra, for example, various types of vegetables such as potatoes and peas are used in some areas.
Of course, there is also sambar powder that has been pre-made and frozen before it is sent to restaurants or homes worldwide.
The sambar is prepared by grinding –
- Coriander seeds
- Cumin seeds
- Mustard seeds
- Black peppercorns
- Dry red chillies
- Fenugreek seeds
- Dry coconut
- Chana dal etc.
How is sambar powder made?
South India in itself is a huge place with a lot of diversity. In different parts of south India, this spice is made slightly differently. The most basic ratio is:
- 1 cup coriander,
- 2 strings curry leaves
- 1/4 cup chana dal,
- 1 teaspoon Fenugreek seeds,
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds,
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds,
- 2 tablespoon black peppercorns,
- 3-4 pieces of cinnamon,
- 1 cup dry red chillies,
- 4 tablespoons grated dry coconut,
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder.
Directions to make sambar powder:
- Take all the above-given spices in different bowls.
- Dry roast coriander seeds and curry leaves in a pan over a low flame until a nice aroma forge.
- Now dry roast chana dal and mix it with previously roast ingredients.
- Now roast mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and mix them.
- Now roast cumin seeds, cinnamon, and black peppercorns for 50 seconds and transfer it to previously mixed ingredients.
- Now roast chilli for a few seconds and transfer it too.
- Dry roast some grated coconut in a pan and transfer it too.
- Now let all the spices cool for 15 minutes.
- Add turmeric powder and all the spices together in a grinder and grind it nicely.
- Sambar masala or sambar spice is ready now. You can keep it in an airtight jar for 5 months.
Precautions while making sambar and sambar masala:
- While roasting the ingredients, use the heavy base pan and keep the flame low.
- You have to use 1 spoon of sambar spice while making sambar for 3 people.
- If you do not eat chillies, you can skip them.
- If it is the rainy season, you can dry all the ingredients before roasting.
You can buy Indian spices online and get pure Indian spices. However, it would be best if you tried making sambar at your home. It’s pretty much definite that you’ll like sambar, and it’s possible that you can add this dish to your regular meal. You should also know what lentils are you using while making sambar. Pigeon pea (Tur dal), or arhar dal, is used to make sambhar. Sometimes moong dal (mung bean) is also used. You should also look at the choice of vegetables. Some vegetables that you can use are yellow pumpkin, carrot, white pumpkin, drumsticks, pearl onions, radish, Tomato, okra, Brinjals, spinach, green beans, etc.
Sambar is a kind of South Indian or Sri Lankan soup. Sambar powder/ sambar masala is the star of this soup. Use dry curry leaves, which will help in storing sambar for longer.
Curry leaves can be avoided if the sambar is made and eaten straightaway.
Sambar powder has some other uses too. For example, it makes a perfect coating on nonveg food and seafood when used on pan-frying.
The main south-Indian dishes like
Idli, Vada, Masala Dosa, paneer dosa, cheese dosa, and other dosas cannot be eaten without Sambar.
Where did sambar was first made!
Whether sambar is originally first made in Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra or Karnataka, or anywhere in India or Sri Lanka, all that matters today is that Sambar is well known and eaten worldwide. Sambar has different variations now; each part of our country makes it differently and serves differently. You can buy Indian spices online and offline in any grocery store in India. You will find pure Indian spices anywhere in India. In some places Indiana, sambar spice is used in nonvegetarian dishes too.
You can also add sambar spice to various dishes according to our taste. Over the years, sambar has gone through different variations, but the classic sambar will never go out of style. I think by now you would have made your mind to make sambar and sambar masala.
So, what are you waiting for! You can buy Indian spices online and start cooking sambar with the above-given instructions.