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Sambhar is usually my fallback on days whe I am feeling lazy about doing a full meal or pressed for time, I just Pressure cook all the vegetales with the lentils amchur/ tomato / tamarind and spice powders. I then temper with thick flakes of garlic, Asafeotida, Fenugreek, split chickpeas, mustard, curry leaves, and Cumin.

What I end up with is a thick lentil vegetable curry with the consistency of a stew. It is great especially on cold days in Dehra Dun.

However a South Indian friend recently enlightened me that the way Sambhar (if one can call it that) is made by me is wrong. That

1. no self respecting South Indian would ever put carrot in Sambhar

2. Only one vegetable goes into a Sambhar at a time.

My maid of Tamil origin made Sambar totally diferently from me as well as my friend.

I am now ent upo making it the proper way ene this post - What is the right/original form? Also does it have regional varitions?


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Hello Rushina,

I've run across a few South Indians with the same infliction of the sambhar being a one ingredient item. As a matter of fact, one guy I used to work with, was pretty emotional about the whole scenario.

But, on the other hand, I've seen that most South Indians not only don't get emotional about it...but they put the dreaded carrot in their sambhar as well, lol.

I think sambhar goes further than just regional variations...I'd say family variations would be a better guess. Quite frankly, I don't understand the food infliction and the emotion behind it. "No self respecting" is a pretty strong terminology to use for a soup, which I get into trouble for considering it a soup, haha.

It could also be for a variety of reasons why it became customary for some to only add one vegetable in their sambhar. Perhaps the family used to be poor and could only afford one veggie, then it carried on as a tradition of sorts. Sort of like the nail clipping shouldn't be done at night because before electricity, you could step on the nail and hurt yourself, which developed into it being "bad luck".

Overall, I think you should add how ever many veggies you like to your sambhar, it sounds delicious. If something tastes more delicious, but flies in the face of tradition -- so be it, haha. We are taking about our tastebuds here. I would gladly eat it with carrots, drumstick...whatever you add. The more veggies the better :shock: .

**edited for typos

Edited by Modern Day Hermit (log)


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Modern day hermit is right about variations.

Here in Bangalore many Sambhars have Radish slices, something which I've never seen before.

If I am making a complete South Indian Meal and if there is a poriyal, the beans and carrots would go there. However if it's only a Sambhar-Rice Combo, then I would bung in all the veggies. I am partial to drumsticks and the amazing Umami flavour they lend, so I tend to use them liberally.

All in all a Sambhar is as suscept to Variations just as a dal.

I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja


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mmmmm....drumsticks. :biggrin:

actually i do remember my mom using veg-all in sambhar and dal a few times. i actually thought it was good when i was younger, but tasting it again with mature taste-buds..mmm, not so good.

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rushina-hie ye to the strand and get yourself copies of'samaithu par' by s .meenakshi ammal-all or much will be revealed.there's a new edition out with a 'best of 'selection-easy to use but not nearly as much fun as the original.recipes for all kinds of chutney -curry leaf included.it's a good place to start and then meander into regional variations.i reserve the right to put carrots in my sambar!

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  • 3 months later...
Modern day hermit is right about variations.

Here in Bangalore many Sambhars have Radish slices, something which I've never seen before.

If I am making a complete South Indian Meal and if there is a poriyal, the beans and carrots would go there. However if it's only a Sambhar-Rice Combo, then I would bung in all the veggies. I am partial to drumsticks and the amazing Umami flavour they lend, so I tend to use them liberally.

All in all a Sambhar is as suscept to Variations just as a dal.


I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja


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there may be as many sambar variations as there are

mothers-in law, but all true versions share one thing:

it is NOT sambhar but sambar. there are no aspirated

consonants in the tamil language :)

ps: my favorites from childhood had radish slices

(daikon, not red); and/or drumsticks; and/or those

small red onions (shallots?). the restaurant versions

often had carrot and / or eggplant chunks.

i think sambar is basically a dish made with leftover

odds and ends of veggies.


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"No self respecting" is a pretty strong terminology to use for a soup,....

i'd like to introduce you to my mom...when my mother was a blushing bride, my paternal grandmother, may she rest in peace, wouldnt let my mother into her kitchen until she had the whole sambhar/rasam thing 'tanjavur style' right.....she was totally corrupted by the 'palaghat' style of adding goddamn coconuts to everything, you see...i cant tell you how much i have been affected by the childhood trauma of hearing DAY IN AND DAY OUT about sambhar/rasam powders..it inevitably graduates to gossip or bitchiness when some hapless new female enters the family....eventually, they all kiss and make up...the hypocrisy is cutting...some two years later, the ex-victim of a bloodless coup will be ripping another new bride to shreds about her obviously inaccurate manner of roasting and grinding the sambhar powder...when you usually attend a wedding, you congratulate the couple..mingle a bit and come back straight home..right..not so in the chaotic unit called my family...the first thing they'd do is find out who the caterer is...and then they will divide themselves into factions...professional debate teams have to stand back IN AWE to watch these two groups go at it ...dissecting EVERY single $£%^& ingredient and style of cooking...god save the bride's parents if he isnt upto scratch..the stigma of hiring a mediocre caterer for their daughter's wedding feast will haunt them for the rest of their lives and beyond...gordon ramsay's hell's kitchen? not bloody likely...to this day, i cant stand coconut OR the smell of sambhar powder...its a tragic affliction, i am telling you...every year, for new years day..no matter which part of the world i may be in..i'll get a new rupee coin, a new set of threads and ........a carefully triple wrapped plastic(original plastic cover of some raw sambhar ingredient...dutifully washed..and dried) packet of sambhar powder(family recipe, i am told..i prefer cold hard cash)...i never had the heart to tell any of my female relatives that all of them went straight to the dustbin...unopened......

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Thanks Jennifer and I know it's a wee bit late but we all wish you a


Did you make anything special for your birthday?

Why thank you! :) I am afraid I didn't make anything of interest for my b-day, work, work, work. Shameful, really.


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Lalitha, your story reminds me of a friend of mine, when she married her husband. He is from Hyderabad and she is a Punjabi girl from Delhi. When his parents found out that their son would be marrying a North Indian girl...oh the horrors! "She will not make you Sambar everyday, how will you survive! She will be serving breads, not rice or idli!"

He married her anyway, I think he has put on weight in spite of his misfortune, haha.


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