May 5, 2011

Sambar with fresh ground spices - Arachi Utta Sambar

So it all started on a Sunday. I was at a discourse. Really. I know. The guruji was talking about how one has to have self control over the materialistic stuff in this world and not really hold on emotionally to anything. He provided the example of his guru who at one time was having his lunch and someone had prepared arachi utta sambar (sambar made with fresh ground spices). So, the guruji ate that and declared that it was indeed a heavenly sambar. As soon as he said it, he realized what he said. He realized that at that moment, he had become emotionally attached to the taste of the sambar and it was just actually food that his body needs for survival and not something that his mind needs to thrive on. So, the next morsel he ate, he mixed up the sambar with some dahi so he would not taste and succumb to its heavenly taste again.

Well, all I got from that lecture was the thought of arachi utta sambar in my head. I could not forget it and wanted to make it and eat as soon as I can get home. So much for my emotionless self control. Maybe it was the fact that I was sitting on a hungry stomach listening to the lecture at 12:00 in the noon and all I could think of was food. I’m just hoping the guruji is not reading this. I promise next time I’ll be more attentive.

Anyways, arachi utta sambar literally means ground up sambar which more elaborately means sambar that is made with fresh ground spices. This is a traditional south Indian sambar and is served as a part of a full meal and is a preferred sambar for special happy occasions. The more the flavor, the more the happiness. And this pot of sambar has a whole lot in it. You’ll see.

Let’s start with making the fresh ground spice for the sambar. Here are the ingredients you’ll need.

Coriander Seeds – about 1-2 tbsp
Methi Seeds – ½ tbsp
Cumin Seeds – ½ tbsp
Channa Daal – 1 tbsp
Dried red chilli – about 3-4
Fresh or frozen Coconut – about ¼ cup

Dry roast all the ingredients except the coconut together. Roast in low to medium heat until they start turning a little golden and the aromas start floating around and up your nose. Don’t laugh.

Let the spices cool down a little bit and add the ¼ cup of coconut to this and grind together to get a dry coarse powder.

Like this.

The great thing about this sambar is that you can add any veggies you want. They all taste good. So I went with the classics – onions, tomatoes, a few carrots, and lots of drumsticks. Before you start making the sambar, get ready with some fresh tamarind pulp and also cooked and mashed toor daal.

Heat up 1 tbsp oil in a deep saucepan. When hot, splutter a few mustard seeds and add some fresh curry leaves.

Add the onions in first and sauté for a min, follow that with the tomatoes and the rest of the veggies. Saute for a couple of minutes. Let this cook for a few mins.

Then, add little salt to taste (just enough for the veggies) and add a spoon full of regular sambar powder to this.

Mix and then immediately add fresh tamarind juice ( about a small ping pong sized ball of tamarind, soaked and squeezed in water).

If it’s too thick, you can add some water to thin it down.

This is what I do with my toor daal for all my sambar and rasams. I pressure cook about ¼- ½ cup of toor daal with water and when cooked, I use an electric hand blender and blend it into a smooth paste. I just like my daal really smooth without chunky uncooked bits.

Add the cooked daal to the sambar and let this boil for about 5-7 mins. Add salt to taste if needed.

When the sambar start boiling, add the fresh ground powder in here and cook for another 5-7 mins. It does smell heavenly at this point and I realize myself that I can never attain emotionless self control. I’m just too damn attached to food. If there is a kitchen in heaven, I’ll be sent there to help out and I’m ok with it. I’m sure God will have the best and the latest gadgets.

That’s it – you’re pretty much done. The only thing left is that you eat this now with some piping hot rice topped off with a dollop of ghee. Yeah, when your sambar is rich, why not give a little to the rice too. Be generous here.

I served with a side of my favorite podalangai poriyal. It’s hard to find fresh podalangai here but anytime I see it and its fresh, that’s what will be served for dinner that day.

Now my soul is satisfied and I can sit for the next lecture. With extra emotionless self control.

Enjoy. Peace out.


  1. I am with you..discourses are for the soul... sambhar body, soul and the shameless taste buds that tempt you to have more!!!! I would still be craving (even if I tried to make it as insipid as possible) if you have served me this one!

  2. this is my absolute fave sambar!

  3. That's one lip smacking sambaar..I need a full tummy to sit patiently and listen to any discourse..else a bowl full of sambaar will be dancing in front of my eyes.Love the colour too..and now I know what's on my lunch menu today.

  4. woow..that looks really spicy and delicious..

  5. Awesome, i really love this samabr...Great platter between!!

  6. Write up, so very Anu style-I love it. Araicha sambar, nothing like amma's araicha sambar. Your steps to sambar heaven is super.

  7. Amazing looking sambar, I have never made sambar with group up spices at home. So, I am going to give this a try. Beautiful and colorful pic. Who is this guruji of yours?

  8. Such a flavourful curry...looks yumm

  9. I make this sambar regularly.Loved the step by step pictures.


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