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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saambhaar Powder ? Kuzhambu Powder is the name!

The name"Saambaar" has become synonymous with South Indian Cuisine. It has become a generic name of sorts for any dish made with tamarind, lentils and veggies.

Every region in south India has a version of tamarind-lentil-veggie recipe original to that place. Tamil variety of the lentil-tamarind-veggie dish is called Kuzhambu. Saambaar / sambar is an extended variation of kuzhambu when dry kuzhambu powder and fresh ground coconut, jeera, coriander seeds, red chillies, methi and onion(optional) are fine ground to take a simple paruppu-veggie kuzhambu to another level.Telugu pappu chaaru, and Kannada Huli are slightgly different from Tamil Saambaar and kuzhambu. A slight difference in procedure gives each dish its distinct flavour and texture.

kuzhambu powder- a wholesome spice mix...
Home made kuzhambu powder has a class of its own. Packaged masalas can never come close to the amma-made versions. My amma or my mamiyaar send me home ground ones. Once I run out of this stock, I grind my own kuzhambu and rasam powder in  a mixer-grinder. It is a different feel to have home ground masalas and podis to cook your meal.

Kuzhambu powder made in different homes may have slight variations. This particular powder is my amma's recipe and proportion of ingredients. Sun drying spices before grinding them is the key to making an aromatic powder. I don't have the luxury of sun drying the spices so I switched to oven "roasting" all the ingredients.

You need:
Coriander Seeds - 3 cups
Tur dal- 1 cup
Chana Dal - 1 cup
Urad dal - 1/4 cup (optional)
Methi (fenugreek) seeds - 1/4 cup
Red chillies - 30 or to suit your taste
Black Pepper corns - 1 cup
Mustard seeds - 1/4 cup
Jeera/Cumin - 1/4 cup
turmeric powder - 4 tbsp

  • Oven roast/sun dry / dry roast all the ingredients one by one (all except the turmeric powder and mustard seeds)
  • Let them cool and then grind into a fine powder in mixer/grinder
  • Lay it out on a flat tray for a while (make sure it is away from water source or dust)...This is to cool the powder for storage (griding makes the powder hot/warm)
  • Store in an air tight container

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