Saturday, January 26, 2013

Podi potta sambhar and the varuththa sambhar podi

During our middle and high school years we were fed rice three times a day. Our mornings typically started with a health drink. Just before leaving for school we had hot steamed rice with the vegetable and either sambhar or rasam though both were cooked regularly. We did not have the breakfast schedule, but when we came back in the evening there would be something heavy for tiffin. Idlis and dosais were made on particular days that our grand parents and / or parents had them for their night meal. Chutneys were also not mandatory accompaniments. The milagai podi and sambhar from the afternoon meal would suffice as accompaniments.
Only when I moved to college the breakfast schedule started. And has been until now. But since my husband leaves really early, making an elaborate breakfast happens rarely. But he will not have cereals either. I make 'tiffin' for the night and keep it light, meaning fewer in number if it is idlis, dosais and chappathis. But we both like to have proper accompaniments with those. Thus I make different chutneys and sambhar, vegetable gravies.
The milagai podi is supposedly staple, but out of sheer laziness, I did not make it for very long. Then my friend Niv put up a status about making podi. That night I made my stock, this time a new recipe from my sister, which will be a post here soon. Then another friend Finla was making dosa. That conversation lead to some sambhar discussion and I promised to post the recipe. my mother never made a separate recipe for podi potta sambhar and would make it with her rasam powder. But I have seen many people keeping the two different powders. I had few recipes from various sources and have been making them just to try them out. I have even bought the commercially available powders.

This recipe for the powder is from S.Meenakshi ammal book and the sambhar I am sharing today is also adapted from the same, but altered to suit our tastes, bringing the heat a little lower.

Recipe for the Sambhar Podi:
source Samaiththu Paar Book 1 by S.Meenakshi Ammal
Yield : 100 gram sambhar powder

165 ml/35 grams dry red chillis (part chillis were byadagi variety for deep red colour)
125 ml/35 grams coriander seeds
2 teaspoons /5 grams black pepper corns
1/2 teaspoon turmeric (whole broken in bits) (or you may use 1 teaspoon turmeric powder)
1 teaspoon /6 grams split bengal gram/ channa dhal
30 ml / 15 grams split pigeon peas / thoor dhal

Dry roast each of the above separately and on low heat in a heavy pan until chillis are brittle,and the other ingredients are well roasted.
If you are using turmeric powder, you may add it to the powder later.
Cool and grind to a powder.
Store in clean glass bottles and use as needed.
Stores well for months together.
These are measures are given in the cookbook and I have weighed and measured in a cup with multiple markings -in teaspoons, millilitres, ounces and tablespoons. But they need not necessarily be exact; a slight variation does not affect the aroma or taste.

I make this in small quantities.
The recipe in the book was with 10 times the one above. Usually back home people grimd these in the commercial mills and stock.
If you plan to make a larger quantity, you may store in ziplock bags in the refrigerator/ freezer.

Podi potta sambhar (sambhar made using the above powder)
This sambhar is usually not thickened, but is quite well combined with a rarer consistency. I prefer this for my idlis and dosais. To thicken this, a teaspoon of rice flour mixed in water is added to the sambhar when it has boiled well. It is quickly stirred in and removed from heat soon after. But I prefer to add a tablespoon of coconut milk. as it enhances the flavour and texture. 

Serves 4 
One big lemon size ball of tamarind, soaked and pulp extracted
75 grams split pigeon peas/ thoor dhal
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 drop of oil
2 teaspoons sambhar powder (above recipe)
Salt to taste
1teaspoon rice flour (if you need a thick sambhar)
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida powder
 Any vegetable of choice to be added to the sambhar ( Potatoes, capsicums, brinjals, drumsticks and onions are well suited)

2 teaspoons cooking oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
3 - 4 dry red chillis broken in bits of two
1 green chilli slit in half lengthwise
2 sprigs fresh/ dried curry leaves

Depending on the vegetables of choice cook them accordingly. Keep aside.
Wash the dhal and pressure cook with one drop of oil, the fenugreek seeds and turmeric powder. The dhal shall be cooked to very soft and slightly mashable.
Soak tamarind in water and with few repeats extract the pulp. You may, in all need 250 ml of water.
In a pan, add salt to the tamarind extract and bring to a boil, then simmer. Add the sambhar powder and the boiled vegetables.
Cook for a few minutes and finally add the dhal.
Allow to simmer and thicken a bit.
If the sambhar needs to thicken add a then paste of rice flour in water  to the simmering stew. Allow to come to a quick boil and remove from heat.

If you like the taste of coconuts in your cooking, you may add some coconut milk to the sambhar.
Take the sambhar off the heat.
Heat the oil in a small pan and add the mustard seeds. Once they crackle, add the red chilis and the green chilli. Toss for few seconds and then add the curry leaves.
Transfer the tempering to the sambhar.
Serve the sambhar hot with idlis, dosais or hot rice.


  1. super inviting sambar. love the flavours

  2. Homemade sambhar podi,nothing will beat it..Podi potta sambhar na yennaku uyir.

  3. lovely sambar and podi. I always keep stock of homely made sambar powder which always comes handy and can be cooked with any vegetable.

  4. hi very useful for Bachelor cooking
    Suresh kumar krishnan


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