Sambaar Powder

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:

    ½ cup

Appears in


By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

This is a spicy mixture based largely on the flavor of certain dried peas. Sambaar powder is especially popular in Southern India, where it is used to flavor an array of vegetarian dishes. It is often used in conjunction with cooked hulled mung beans (moong dal) and lentils, which are then puréed and used to thicken vegetarian stews. Three tablespoons (45 milliliters) of sambaar powder is usually enough to flavor about 1 quart (1 liter) liquid.


coriander seeds ¼ cup 60 ml
brown mustard seeds 1 tsp 5 ml
moong dal (split and hulled yellow variety) 1 tsp 5 ml
channa dal (yellow split peas) 1 tsp 5 ml
urad dal (split and skinned g beans) 1 tsp 5 ml
fenugreek seeds 1 tsp 5 ml
cumin seeds 2 tsp 10 ml
powdered asafetida ¼ tsp 1 ml
curry leaves 20 20
dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed 6 6
black peppercorns 1 tsp 5 ml


  1. Stir the coriander, mustard seeds, moong dal, channa dal, urad dal, fenugreek, and cumin in a hot dry skillet for about 3 minutes, until the spices smell aromatic. Stir in the asafetida, curry leaves, and chiles and stir for another 2 minutes.
  2. Remove from the heat, let cool, and combine with the peppercorns. Grind in a coffee grinder or blender at high speed for about 3 minutes and work through a fine-mesh strainer. Store, tightly sealed, in the freezer.