Let me tell you today about the way we make Sambar Podi, our family recipe for Sambar Powder, Tamil Brahmin style.
Why home-made Sambar Podi?
Sambar is a way of life in a typical South Indian household. Sambar Podi is the life of sambar, quite literally. The key to wonderful sambar is using wonderful Sambar Podi. And, trust me, there’s nothing like home-made sambar powder!
Sambar Podi ground at home fresh in small batches is very fragrant, something that very few store-bought products can match up to. It makes a world of difference in the way your sambar tastes and smells.
You have complete control over the quality of ingredients that go into your Sambar Podi at home, and can rest assured there are no additives or preservatives in there. Also, you can add or subtract ingredients as per your family’s taste preferences, when it’s home-made.
Sambar Podi is not difficult to make at home at all! All it needs are a few, good-quality ingredients and a watchful eye to ensure that the said ingredients are evenly roasted. It takes just about 20 minutes to put together. So, there’s nothing, really, to stop one from trying it out.
Our family recipe for Sambar Podi
The sambar in different South Indian states is different, and so are their ways of making Sambar Podi. Even within the same state, there are variations from one part to another, from one family to another. This is the Tamil Brahmin style of making Sambar Podi, which we follow in our family.
The Sambar Podi in itself is completely vegetarian and vegan (plant-based). To make it gluten-free, skip the asafoetida. Most commercial brands of asafoetida available in India contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet.
#MasalaDabba at Foodie Monday Blog Hop
I’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop, a group of food bloggers that I’m part of. Every Monday, the members of the group present recipes based on a pre-determined theme. The theme for this week is #MasalaDabba, wherein we are showcasing various home-made spice blends.
Preethi, the very talented blogger at Preethi’s Cuisine, suggested the theme. I’m eagerly waiting to try out her excellent recipes for Kundapur Masala Powder, Flaxseed & Curry Leaves Powder, and Cilantro Chutney Powder!
How we make Sambar Podi
Here’s how we make the Sambar Podi at our place.
Ingredients (yields about 200 grams):
- 3/4 cup dry red chillies (sabut lal mirch)
- 3/4 cup coriander seeds (dhania)
- 1/4 cup chana dal
- 1/4 cup toor dal
- 1/2 tablespoon fenugreek (methi) seeds
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns (sabut kali mirch)
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 teaspoon asafoetida powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- Take the toor dal and chana dal in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high heat, and once the pan heats up turn down the flame to medium. Dry roast the toor dal and chana dal till they begin to turn brown. Stir intermittently, so that the roasting is even. Make sure the ingredients do not burn. This should take about 2 minutes.
- Add in the dry red chillies, coriander seeds and black peppercorns. Continue to dry roast on low-medium flame, stirring intermittently till the chillies get crisp and the toor dal and chana dal turn a nice brown. This should take roughly 2 minutes.
- Now, add in the fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds. Dry roast the ingredients on low-medium flame for about a minute more. Stir constantly at this stage to prevent burning of the ingredients.
- Transfer all the roasted ingredients to a plate immediately. Allow them to cool down fully.
- When the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer to a mixer jar. Add in the asafoetida and turmeric powder. Grind everything together to a fine powder, stopping at intervals to mix up the ingredients using a spoon. Your Sambar Podi is ready.
- Let the ground Sambar Podi cool down fully from the grinding, then transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Store at room temperature and use as needed.
Tips & Tricks
1. Generally, each of the ingredients for the Sambar Podi are roasted separately, and then ground together. However, when using small quantities of ingredients, it is okay to roast all of them in the same pan, like I have done here. Do ensure that you follow the steps closely, so that all ingredients are evenly roasted. Under- or over-roasting will yield a less than flavourful Sambar Podi.
2. Make sure you use a heavy-bottomed pan for roasting the ingredients.It is imperative to ensure that none of the ingredients burn while roasting. Let the smell of the roasting ingredients guide you. Do the roasting on low-medium flame only.
3. We use a mix of the less spicy Bydagi dry red chillies and the hotter Salem Gundu dry red chillies in our Sambar Podi. I use about 70% of Bydagi and 30% of Salem Gundu, which yields a beautiful orange-red powder that is medium spicy.
4. You can use more or less dry red chillies, depending upon your personal preferences. You could use other varieties of chillies too, as per your preferences. Remember that the colour of the Sambar Podi will largely depend upon the type of dry red chillies you use.
5. Make sure you start grinding only when all the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down.
6. Don’t grind the roasted ingredients at a stretch, but do it in intervals. Grind some, and then stop to mix up the ingredients before you start grinding again. This will stop the mixer from getting over-heated and will contribute towards achieving a more flavourful podi.
7. The Sambar Podi can be stored at room temperature in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle for about 2 months. The above quantities of ingredients yield Sambar Podi that lasts me roughly 1-1/2 to 2 months. I prefer making it fresh, in small batches.
Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!