I received some readers request on South Indian Kitchen basics. I am hence starting this series and intend to post more such recipes. 

A conventional South Indian home will always welcome you with a Traditional Sambhar recipe on weekends.
 A  typical South Indian kitchen is always expected to have stock of quintessential spice powders- referred to as "Podi" used for day to day cooking. However, over a decade many kitchen shelves have  replaced these homemade essentials  with store bought ones mainly for convenience (Sorry ladies, also for some being lazy !!). In my opinion  ready-made powders give a standardized monotonous flavour to finished dishes. Sometimes they gives me a feel that I am in a hostel eating weekly cyclic menus that are hardly enticing. That said, the aroma from freshly ground homemade powders are always superior and unmatched in comparison with store bought ones. The Nutritional properties of individual spices in these blends makes the meal wholesome and healthy.

Technically, spices are said to have a long shelf life when unopened. But the moment you heat treat them, the Alkaloids come out (volatile sulphur based flavour components) making it compulsory to use quickly. It is a practice in some homes to grind Sambhar and Rasam powders in bulk. I do not recommend this as the flavour is short-lived. So, the ideal way to get the best out of homemade spice powders is to grind them in small batches rather than in bulk. So here goes the recipe for Sambhar powder. 
Also refer to my Araichuvitta Sambhar  and Tiffin Sambhar post.

An interesting read on Sambhar - Click here

Preparation Time: 5 min
Cooking Time : 10 min
Category: Spice powder
Cuisine: South Indian
Level: Medium
Yield : 300 gm
Source: MIL

  • 1 cup Coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup Bengal gram dhal/ Chana Dhal
  • 3 cup Red Chillies, heaped 
  • 1 tbsp Fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp  compounded Asafoetida flakes
  • 1 tsp Pepper ( optional)
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds ( optional)
  • 2 tsp Oil
  • 1/4 tsp crystal salt
  • Except Chillies and Asafoetida, dry roast each ingredient separately in a Kadai on low medium flame until fragrant. 
  • Use a homemade broom stick for even roasting. Refer to this post  for some details. Always roast spices in circular motion. 
  • Transfer to a plate and spread out to cool. 
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in the same Kadai and fry Asafoetida flakes until soft. Remove from heat and cool.
  • Heat 1 tsp of oil. Add crystal salt. When it sizzles, add the red chillies and saute till coated well and you hear a crinkle. Should take 3 mins.Transfer to  spice plate immediately and cool.
  • Grind all the above to a fine powder in a mixer and spread out  on a plate to prevent lumps. Transfer to airtight container and use as required. Keeps fresh and good for a month.
  • Adding Pepper and Cumin seeds to Sambhar powder is completely optional.
  • Adding crystal salt to oil cuts down the heat fumes coming out chillies while sauteing them and prevents nasal burning.
  • We do it to offset gassy feeling that may be caused by  dhals in sambhar.
  • You can also use  50:50 ratio of  Red and Kashmiri chillies for a deep red colour. The spice level will be mild.


  1. I really hate packs to make sambaar... :( Somehow prefer making them myself at the time of making sambaar... The powder sounds really interesting... I would love the aroma!

  2. I love sambar and for sure my mom's sambar powder.This is def a helpful post.

  3. I am bookmarking it Sowmya dear and will try soon. Have been meaning to make my own Sambhar powder for a long time now..


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