When is enough never enough? I’d say with Sambhar powder
I have three big plastic containers filled with sambhar powder, sitting in my freezer (best way to store them), made by my mom. She makes it a point to pack kilos of sambhar powder, paruppu podi(dal powder for rice), kootu podi (dal powder for vegetables), idli milagai podi(gun powder), pickles, vadams etc etc to bring back when we go home. Whenever some relative travels this side, her first question is always,” Do you have enough sambhar powder or shall I send some”?.
It is alright with mom if her dear daughter and SIL go without electricity if a Hurricane hits but the kitchen should be stocked with sambhar powder
Jokes apart, the taste of sambhar with homemade sambhar powder is awesome! Once, only once when the stock was over I have bought store bought powder, N and I felt that store bought powder does not taste like the typical Iyer sambar powder that we are used to. I made a call home and within a few weeks I got a big pack of sambar powder from home, thanks to some folks traveling back and forth. Besides, these make good instant gifts with unexpected friends- you just have to ask and you’ll know.
I feel guilty everytime I ask her but I realized it gives mom satisfaction. Once when I was telling this story to a relative old enough to be my grandma, she cooly said, “My daughter has a 10 year old daughter and I still make sambhar powder for her”…So I decided to be guilt free and enjoy these simple pleasures that you cant get anywhere else.
Now there are two different sambhar powders, one that is sundried and ground in the food mill, the other called as arachu vitta sambhar powder(freshly ground sambhar paste instead of a powder), you can also get the taste of arachu vitta sambhar by just sprinkling a teaspoon of the powder while using regular/store bought powders.
I guess there is no specific recipe for the powder as mom’s have their own recipe- adding extra coriander seeds or pepper or cumin to varying proportions.
Toor Dal: 1/2 kg
Chana Dal- 1/2 Kg
Coriander seeds- 3/4 kg
Dried red chilies- 1/4 kg
Fenugreek seeds- 25g
Thick Asafoedita(not powder)- 50 g
How to: First fry fenugreek seeds to a golden brown color. Keep it aside. Then fry chana dal, toor dal, dry red chilies and coriander seeds in the same order. Cool.
Fry asafoetida in oil and cool. Grind all ingredients together to a powder in a coffee grinder/blender and use as sambhar powder.
Coriander seeds- 3 cups
Pepper- 1 cup
Toor dal- 1 cup
Chana dal- 1 cup
Fenugreek seeds- less than 1/4 cup
Dried red chilies- 3 cups
Whole dried turmeric- about 10 or 15
Dry all these ingredients in the sun and then blend them to a fine powder(done in a food mill in India).
Arachu vitta sambhar recipe can be found here.
The powder recipe:
Chana dal -(Kadalai paruppu)- 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds- 4 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) – a pinch
Red chilies- 6
Coconut- 5 tbsp
Fry the ingredients given under the section to “grind”. Toast coriander seeds, red chilies, chana dal, fenugreek seeds together without adding any oil till they turn golden brown color. Transfer to a blender.
Add coconut to the hot pan and quickly stir fry for a minute before it turns brown (Look for a golden color). Transfer to the blender. Adding coconut along with other ingredients will toast the coconut quicker and all other ingredients will be raw. So fry coconut at the last minute.
Let these ingredients cool and grind to a smooth, fine powder in one whole grinding pulse. Do not stop and grind and do not open the lid of the blender as soon as you stop grinding. You’ll be celebrating Holi if you do so
Store this powder in an airtight container in the fridge/freezer if you are going to use it to flavor the sambhar. To use the powder for fresh sambhar(one time use), add water and make it to a smooth paste. Follow the recipe for sambhar like here.
Another tip is that though the sambhar powder can be used in making vathakozhambus, there is also a seperate flavor powder to make vathakozhambu which can be found here.
What are you waiting for? Make some hot idli sambhar!
For Jay’s Lets Relishh Paneer event, my entries are:
Malai Paneer- Paneer with rich cream and cashew sauce
My favorite flavored paneer- chili infused paneer in a fried rice