I used to get my sambar powder from Grand sweets, but a friend has given me her grandmother’s treasured sambar podi recipe years ago and, with her permission I am publishing it here today. If you are buying a local brand or MTR, I suggest you give this a try and you will be surprised by it's taste.
¾ cup Urad dal- Minnapappu
½ cup Chenna dal – Senagapappu
½ cup Toor dal – Kandipappu
1 cup Coriander seeds- Dhania
Handful Red Chilies
1 ½ tsp Jeera
1 ½ tsp Mustard seeds
2 tsp Fenugreek seeds
2 tsp Black Pepper seeds
2 Handfuls curry leaves
4 tsp Grated coconut
Take 2 tsp oil in a skillet fry coriander seeds till they are done. Then add channa dal, toor dal and fry for a few minutes finally add urad dal, fenugreek seeds, jeera, mustard seeds, black pepper, hing, curry leaves and red chilies. At the end add grated coconut and fry till it is nicely done.
This order should be followed as coriander seeds take longer time to fry than the other dals. Red chilies can be adjusted according to taste.
It is really important that the mixture is stirred frequently and have the flame in low/ medium. This way the dals are roasted completely and prevents from darkening. The mixture emits a toasty aroma when they are nicely roasted.
Let cool. Grind to a powder in a spice mill or blender.
Use immediately or store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place or in a Ziploc bag in the freezer to retain its freshness and aroma.
Sambar powder is used for making sambar and other “pulusu” – Liquid dishes. All the items in the mixture will have a unique blend and when mixed with tamarind juice, vegetables and made sambar, the flavor will come out.
The key to good sambar is no doubt the podi but the toor dal should also be cooked very softly and mashed well leaving no visible dal. Weather you pressure cook or cook vegetables on stove top, do not overcook the onions and vegetables and use required amount of tamarind. Using hing, curry leaves and garlic (optional) in the seasoning will make it even more special.