Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sambhar - The Iyer Style!

Sambhar is a very popular delicacy in South India. Almost like a staple food. A meal would be incomplete without the Sambhar being in the main course! Many of my friends from the North always are in awe of the Sambhar they get in the south especially in Chennai, TN:-)!!!

There are various variations to this recipe depending on which State of South India you get to taste it and which part of every individual State the sambhar is made. But by and large the main ingredients are tamarind puree, sambhar powder, boiled toor dhal and any veggie of your choice!

Below is the style in which Tamil Iyers make it! This is otherwise called Arachu- Karacha Sambhar (அரச்சு கரைச்ச) 


- veggies of your choice ( i used onions & drumsticks)
- Tamarind puree 2 cups
- 1 or1-1/4 tbsp sambhar powder
- 1/2 cup toor dhal
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp sesame oil or ghee for seasoning
- freshly chopped coriander

For Masala paste:

- 2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp channa dhal
- 1 green chilly
- 2 red chilly
- 1/2 cup coconut
- 1 small tomato
- 1/2 tsp methi (fenugreek seeds)
- 1/2 tsp hing (asafoetida)
- 1/2 tsp oil

Prep time: 15 mins                  Cook time: 30 mins


- Add turmeric powder and pressure cook the toor dhal.
- While the dhal is cooking, cut the veggies and prepare the masala for grinding.

For grinding:

- In a pan heat 1/2 tsp oil and add the channa dhal. Fry for a minute on medium, then add the coriander seeds, methi seeds and chillies and fry for a minute more.
- Later add the coconut, tomatoes and hing and fry for a minute before setting it aside to cool.

- On cooling, grind into a fine paste adding little water.

Preparing sambhar:

- In a deep pan, add the veggies, the tamarind puree, salt and the sambhar powder. Bring this to a boil until the veggies boil and the raw smell of the sambhar powder goes off. This might take about 10 mins.
- You will notice that i did not fry the onions. The aroma of fresh onions boiling is unbeatable. Frying takes away that flavour from them!

- At this point you can taste the sambhar for sourness. You can dilute with 1/2 cup water to reduce the sourness if need be.
- Now add the masala paste prepared above and the boiled toor dhal and stir well.
Boiled dhal and ground masala
- Bring the whole mixture to a boil on medium for a couple of minutes and remove from heat.
- Season in a tsp of sesame oil, some mustard and curry leaves.Add freshly chopped coriander to enhance the flavour.

- Tasty Arachu-Karacha sambhar is ready to serve!

Foot note:

- Traditionally the masala paste has only coriander seeds, channa dhal, hing, red chillies and coconut. The addition of tomatoes and green chilly was tipped on to me by one of my cousin!
- The proportion of coriander to channa dhal is usually 2:1
- The quantity of tamarind puree is purely your choice. You can add little extra or less depending on how sour you need the sambhar.
- Instead of grinding the methi seeds with the masala, you can directly add them while boiling the veggies too!

This recipe is participating in :


  1. wow...wat a flavorful n yummy sambar with freshly ground spices...bookmarking this...thanx for sharing...
    Drumstick sambar is my fav n this is with very interesting recipe...a must try !!

  2. Thanks sangee....what a wonderful fan u r! Instant comments and follow up! Do try and let me know if u liked it. That i believe is more important for the success of my blog;-)!

  3. Sangee and yes...here it is ...my adaptation of ur curry

  4. was searching for iyer style sambhar. now i got it. thnx for sharing :)

  5. Thanks Chitra for visiting my space:-)u hv so many recipes up ur sleeve...am surprised u did'nt know this..:-) glad to be of help!

  6. This version of sambar is new to me. Thanks for linking it to Friday potluck.
    Following you back :)

  7. Thanks Vatsala...try it and let me know if u liked it:-)