Mambazha Sambar is a summer-time delicacy in many Tamilian households. It refers to sambar made using ripe mango, usually with a freshly ground spice paste. With its mildly sweetish, sour and spicy tastes, this sambar surely is a flavour bomb. The mango-ey smell that fills the air when this sambar is cooking is absolutely heavenly, too!
This Mambazha Sambar is a recipe from my husband’s side of the family – we make more of raw mango sambar in my mom and dad’s side. I learnt how to make this after I got married and, now, the extended family loves the way I make it. We usually make a big batch of this Mambazha Sambar for lunch, to go with hot rice, and have the leftover with idli or dosa for dinner – a lovely combination either way!
Let me share with you all, today, how we go about making this dish at home. Do make it while ripe mangoes are still in season!
You might also want to check out my recipes for Thai Sticky Rice With Mango, Mambazha Pulissery and Mango Lassi. Also, do check out our family recipe for Pala Kottai Sambar, another traditional Tamilnadu summer delicacy i.e. sambar made with jackfruit seeds.
What is sambar?
‘Sambar‘ refers to a sort of stew from South India that is typically made using vegetables and lentils. It acts as an accompaniment for rice and tiffin dishes like idli, dosa and vada. There are variations to the sambar made in different states of South India – in fact, there are a few variations that exist within each state itself. Here’s a recipe for Udupi Sambar, which is commonly served in the darshinis of Bangalore.
Tamilnadu sambar can be broadly divided into two categories:
- One made with a freshly ground paste consisting of coconut, dry red chillies, chana dal and other ingredients. This type of sambar is called Arachuvitta Sambar, which literally translates into ‘sambar containing a ground paste’.
- One made with sambar podi, which is a dry powder made using various roasted and ground spices. This version is called ‘podi potta sambar‘.
While sambar is typically made with toor dal, there is a variety we make using moong dal too, called Pasi Paruppu Sambar. Here’s our family recipe.
What goes into Mambazha Sambar
Like I was saying earlier, Mambazha Sambar is made with ripe mangoes and a freshly ground spice paste. It, therefore, falls under the category of ‘arachuvitta sambar‘.
The spice paste gives the sambar body and flavour, and is made using ingredients like fresh coconut, coriander seeds, chana dal and dry red chillies. Cooked toor dal is also used to add texture to the sambar. Tamarind extract and a bit of jaggery are used to balance the sweet-sour taste of the mangoes.
The Mambazha Sambar is tempered with fenugreek seeds and dry red chillies apart from the usual mustard, asafoetida and curry leaves.
Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge
I am sharing this recipe in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group that I am part of.
The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is run by a group of enthusiastic food bloggers, who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme every month. The group members are divided into pairs. Each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, unknown to the rest of the group. The pairs then use these secret ingredients to prepare a dish that fits into the theme of the month. The other group members try to guess the secret ingredients, after seeing a picture of the dish. It’s quite a fun challenge!
The theme for May 2022 was ‘mango-based dishes’, suggested by Mayuri ji, author of Mayuri’s Jikoni. She suggested we prepare any dish of our choice using either ripe or raw mangoes, and I chose to showcase this family favourite Mambazha Sambar. Mayuri ji prepared this delectable Fajeto or Gujarati Ripe Mango Kadhi for the challenge.
I was paired with Radha of Magical Ingredients for the month. She gave me two versatile ingredients to work with – salt and curry leaves – which fit right into this recipe. 😊 I suggested she make something using flour and butter, and she prepared this amazing Mango Melon Pan.
How to make Mambazha Sambar
This flavourful sambar is not very difficult to put together. The proceedure is outlined below in detail.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
For the spice paste:
1. 4-5 Bydagi dry red chillies
2. 2-3 Salem Gundu dry red chillies
3. 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
4. 1 tablespoon chana dal
5. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
6. A pinch of fenugreek seeds (methi)
7. About 1/4 cup of fresh coconut pieces
8. A few drops of oil
1. 1/2 cup toor dal
2. A small ball of tamarind
3. 3 small ripe mangoes
4. Salt to taste
5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
6. Red chilli powder as needed (optional)
6. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or as needed
Tempering and garnishing:
1. 1 tablespoon sesame oil
2. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
3. 2 pinches of asafoetida
4. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
5. 2 dry red chillies
6. 2 pinches of fenugreek seeds
7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1. Wash the toor dal well and drain out all the water from it.
2. Take the washed and drained toor dal in a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the dal completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker and cook on high flame for 7-8 whistles. The toor dal should be well cooked and soft. Let the pressure release naturally.
3. Soak the tamarind in boiling water, for it to soften. Let it cool down enough to handle.
4. Peel the mangoes. Chop the flesh into large pieces. Scrape off all the flesh from the seeds too. Collect any juice that flows out.
5. Measure out all the ingredients needed to make the spice paste.
6. Now, we will prepare the spice paste. Heat a few drops of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add in the Bydagi dry red chillies, Salem Gundu dry red chillies, coriander seeds, chana dal, cumin and fenugreek seeds. Turn the flame down to medium. Roast the ingredients on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the lentils turn brown – take care to ensure that they do not burn. At this stage, add in the coconut and roast for just 2 seconds. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate immediately and let them cool down completely.
7. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. Mash it thoroughly and keep aside.
8. Extract all the juice from the tamarind, once it has cooled down. Use water as needed to help with the extraction. Keep aside.
9. When the roasted ingredients have cooled down completely, grind everything together to a smooth paste in a small mixer jar, using a little water. Keep aside.
10. Now, we will start preparing the Mambazha Sambar. Take the tamarind in a heavy-bottomed pan and place on high flame. Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind is gone.
11. Add in the mangoes and a bit of salt. Mix well.
12. Next, add the cooked and mashed toor dal and the spice paste we ground earlier. Add in about a cup of water. Mix well.
13. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the sambar starts thickening and coming together.
14. Add jaggery powder and red chilli powder, if using. Adjust the salt. Mix well. Cook for about a minute, then switch off gas.
15. In a small tempering pan, heat the oil. Add in the mustard and allow it to sputter. Then, add in the asafoetida, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds and dry red chillies. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds, ensuring that they do not burn. Now, add this tempering to the prepared sambar.
16. Add in the finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Keep closed for about 10 minutes, after which your Mambazha Sambar is ready to serve.
Vegan and gluten-free
This Mambazha Sambar recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.
To make it gluten-free, skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most commercially available Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour, and are therefore best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, do go ahead and use it.
This is a no-onion, no-garlic recipe.
Tips & Tricks
1. Use mangoes that are juicy and ripe, but not overly so. They should be firm to the touch and a good mix of sweet and sour. I used 2 small Sindhoora mangoes and 1 small Banganapalli.
2. Adjust the quantity of jaggery powder and tamarind depending upon how sweet and sour the mangoes are.
3. For best results, the mango pieces should not be overly cooked. That is why they are added in after the tamarind extract has cooked well and lost its raw smell.
4. I have used a mix of the spicy Salem Gundu dry red chillies and the not-so-hot Bydagi dry red chillies here. You can use any variety you prefer. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies as per personal taste preferences.
5. The red chilli powder is optional. Use it only when you feel the heat from the dry red chillies is not enough. Ideally, this Mambazha Sambar should be gently sweetish, with just the right amount of spiciness and sourness to balance it out.
6. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the sambar you require.
7. Sesame oil (‘nalla ennai‘ in Tamil) tastes best in this sambar. However, you may also use ghee or any other variety of oil for the tempering.
8. Here, I have done the tempering at the very end so the smell of the sesame oil remains intact. You could even do so before beginning to cook the dish.
9. The Mambazha Sambar thickens up even after you stop cooking. Keep it a little runny so that the consistency is perfect when you serve it.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!