Sambar Powder (Sambar Masala)
A sambar powder or sambhar podi is an Indian spice mix made by roasting and then blending together spices and legumes. It adds the most amazing flavor and texture to south Indian style dals called sambar or kuzhambu, but you can also use it in stir-fried vegetable curries and other dals.
Servings: 30 servings (recipe makes approximately 3 cups of sambar powder)
- 1¼ cups coriander seeds
- 1 cup dry red chili peppers (like Kashmiri red chili peppers or byadgi peppers, loosely packed. Use moderately hot peppers. This sambar masala is not too hot but if you are very sensitive to heat you can cut down the quantity of peppers by half)
- ⅓ cup chana dal (Bengal gram dal)
- ⅓ cup tuvar dal (split pigeon peas)
- 2 tablespoons urad dal (black gram dal, optional)
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- ¼ cup curry leaves (fresh or dry are both fine. Some south Indians don't use curry leaves in their sambar powder and you can leave them out, but if you do that be sure to add fresh curry leaves to the sambar when you are making it.)
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
Roast the ingredients
Dry-roast the red chili peppers in a medium skillet over medium-low heat for about five minutes or until they turn almost crispy. Remove to a plate and set aside to cool. (Be sure to turn on your vent hood or vent fan or leave a window in the kitchen open any time you roast chile peppers.)
In the same skillet add the remaining ingredients except the turmeric and the curry leaves. Roast them over a low heat setting--I usually keep my stove turned on to the setting to 1 or 2. Slow-roast the ingredients until they have slightly changed color and are very aromatic. This takes me about 10 minutes. You don't want to cook the ingredients too much here. Traditionally sambar ingredients were dried in the hot south Indian sun before being blended and that's what we are trying to emulate here.
Remove the roasted ingredients to a plate and set aside.
Finally, roast the curry leaves, if they are fresh, until they are very dry and crisp. If you are using dry curry leaves you can skip this step.
Blend the sambar powder
Once the ingredients have cooled you can begin blending them. Begin by blending the chile peppers first. It really helps to have a powerful blender here that can make a fine powder.
Once the chile peppers have broken down into a powder add all of the remaining ingredients to the blender jar, including the roasted spices and lentils, turmeric and curry leaves, and blend into as fine a powder as possible.
Sift the sambar powder
This is an optional step but most south Indians would do this, and I highly recommend you do too because you want the sambar powder to be as smooth and fine as possible so your sambar is silky in texture. Use any sieve or strainer to sift the blended powder into a bowl. Any coarse ingredients you sift out can be blended again and added to the sambar powder. Or reserve this blend in a separate jar and use it to season stir-fried vegetable curries.
Store the sambar powder
Store the sambar powder in an airtight mason jar for up to a year in a cool, dark place, or, preferably, in a fridge, which will extend its life.
Serving: 1.5tbsp (approx) | Calories: 34kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 83mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 483IU | Vitamin C: 80mg | Calcium: 51mg | Iron: 1mg