Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ready to use powdered spices for Araiththu vitta Sambhar

It was by sheer chance that I started making this sambhar powder for storing. The house in Johor had the power supply trip control and when there was heavy lightning and thunder, the supply  to major power appliances will cut. We had to manually set the switch on. So when one goes on a holiday, the  keys were in custody of a friend who would religiously check on the house. That being an impractical option, the other was to empty contents of your refrigerator and the freezers. One friend had an incident of fresh yeast left in the freezer compartment growing out of proportion and spoiling other stuff left in.
We use a lot of coconut in our cooking; but I seem to have extra when I  buy a few more for religious festivals. I scrape them and store in freezer boxes. Thengai podi and thengai thogaiyal are my favourite options to use them up. But given that we are a small family, anything cooked in moderation tends to be excess and we have left overs at times.
During one such holiday, when even friends were all going away for a few weeks, I had some coconut that I wanted to use. Thus I roasted the coconut well and roasted those spices that we usually add to the grinding for sambhar and made the powder. I stored it in a bottle, left it on the counter and went away. It had kept well through my holiday. I used it in the following days, happy with this quick ready to use powder for sambhar. It kept well for weeks outside refrigeration.
I shared this recipe with my mother and aunt who in turn used it too. Now I see to that I keep stock of this powder, when I travel alone and my husband cooks for himself. With limited time to indulge in heavy procedures, he is only too happy to use the powder and some partly cooked and then frozen vegetables I leave for him.
At home, in India, we still use the traditional flat stone and pestle to grind. My mother will not use her small chutney grinder attachment for her grinding unless she is forced to due to weather until few years ago. That was until she had broken her upper arm that has made it difficult for her to apply pressure.

Now we make this powder for her to store and use.

2 and 1/2 cups scraped coconut
25 dry red chillis (adjust according to heat of the chillis)
1/2 cup coriander seeds
1/3 cup Split Bengal gram
2'' piece dry ginger
1-2 pieces finger turmeric

Roast each of the above ingredients separately and dry on low to medium heat.
The chillis shall have to become brittle without browning and the coriander and the dhal well done but not charred.
Break the dry ginger and the turmeric in small bits before adding them to the rest of the grinding.
The coconut will have to be roasted until brown and very aromatic.
Allow them to come to room temperature.
While grinding, first run the mixer with the turmeric and ginger pieces to crush them, then add the gram and red chillis.
When they have been just about crushed, add the coriander seeds. Grind these to a coarse powder before adding the coconut.
Pulse with the coconut until just combined and in short bursts lest the coconut oozes oil.
Transfer on to a flat dish and spread to allow the powder to cool.

Store in airtight container and use when cooking sambhar.
I add this powder to my preparation after the tamarind extract has been boiled well with the vegetables and salt and the pressure cooked dhal has been added. The powder is then stirred in and the sambhar is allowed to boil and blend well.
For 500ml of  sambhar, I add 2 tablespoons of the above powder and it serves sufficiently for four people.

Varuththu araiththa sambhar is staple in my home, while I also make this quick sambhar often.
This powder stores well for quite a while, but as it ages, you may feel the smell of coconut oil strongly in the sambhar.
Though it tastes excellent to have freshly ground spice mix in traditional dishes, such powders and ready to mix basics come handy and makes it easy to get cooking done quickly.


  1. Flavorful, always love this way of sambhar

  2. These powder's are real life-savers during the morning rush.

  3. I am definitely making this akka... so far I've used the roasted coconut to only make theeyal... sambar powder sounds fabulous.

  4. Never thought abt making podi beforehand for ara

  5. pre prepared podis are my saviour during my initial days of cooking... This podi sounds flavourful.. Yummy sambar

  6. I love to try this sambhar, as coconut is my weakness .

  7. I love the fresh sambar. Have never added ginger though. And the prepared sambar looks just like the one that has been made with fresh ground spices.

  8. First time on your blog and see what I found. I am a lover of making masala powders at home.
    This is so gonna be made by me - my kiddo loves sambar and this will be wonderful for her. I can actually smell the wonderful aromas of the coconut and the bengal gram being roasted and powdered.
    You have a beautiful space here - love all the pictures you take.

  9. God- I can almost smell the flavors! I so want one of those ammi kallu in my kitchen - I think the end product there is way better than any food processor in the world!

  10. I like home made sambar podi. These sambar podi smell also very nice.
    Spices powder
    Indian spices


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