Sambhar Powder( Tamil Brahmin style)


Last year on a trip to Kumbakonam and Tanjavur, I discovered a new dish called ‘Vathal Kuzhambu’. It was new to me, at least, because I had never tasted it before. We stayed at a place called- Mantra Veppathur, where the Chef was extremely nice and made a couple of authentic Kumbakonam dishes just for me to sample. I had never heard of ‘Kalyana Murungai Vada’ before, neither had I tasted ‘Red hibiscus Raitha’. So, anyways this was where I actually came to know that the Tamil version of Sambhar powder was much different than the Karnataka version. Its this Sambhar powder that goes into making ‘Vathal Kuzhambu’, the recipe which I will follow up after this.


Useless information maybe, but in Bangalore, Sambhar is rarely called Sambhar, it’s called “HuLi” with the hard ‘L’. The meaning of HuLi is sour, which means that there is an ingredient in the dish that renders it sour, generally Tamarind. Also, Rasam is rarely called Rasam, it’s called ‘Saaru‘, not ‘Chaaru’ which would be the way the people from Andhra Pradesh would say it. ‘Majjige HuLi’ is also sour, because of the use of sour yogurt in preparing the dish. So much useless trivia:)

I suggest not making large quantities of Masala powders, as they lose their fragrance if kept unused for long periods of time. These powders are very easy to make in small batches and taste fresh when used up with a couple of weeks.


  1. Toor Dal- 1/4 Cup
  2. Channa Dal- 1/8 Cup
  3. Coriander seeds- 100 gms
  4. Cumin- 2 Tsp
  5. Black pepper- 3 Tsp
  6. Fenugreek Seeds- 1 Tsp
  7. Turmeric Powder- 1 Tsp
  8. Curry leaves- 2 Sprigs
  9. Red chilies( I used byadgi)- 100 gms, broken into smaller pieces
  10. Asafetida- 1/4 Tsp


Dry roast all the ingredients separately, on a low-medium heat till the Dals turn slightly darker and the Red chilies become bigger and start smoothing out.

Cool the roasted ingredients, powder to a fine powder in a spice mill. Store in an airtight container.