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August 28, 2018

Arachu Vitta Sambar - (freshly ground coconut masala)

Sambar - through this Sambar with Idli or dosa and the ash smeared on forhead, this is how rest of India recognise South India.

The southern states are unique with it's cuisine and culture. Sambar definitely will not smell and taste the same in every home. Not even in it's home town Thanjavur. The ingredients and their quantity varies. Some add jaggery (only a little to get a tinge of sweet and some don't). Some use mix vegetables. Some use only one vegetable.... thus the sambar avatar goes on....

History of Sambar :-

Sambar originated in the Maratha's kitchen in Thanjavur says the historians based on the scripts available at Thanjavur Saraswathi Mahal Library.

Thanjavur was ruled by Chozhas, Pandiyas, Vijayanagar dynasty and then by Naikars. The Naikar killed the King of Thanjavur and captured it. The Son of the King, approached the Sultan of Bijapur for help to regain the Kingdom. Sultan of Bijapur, sent his force, which was commanded by "Venkoji" - a Maratha. Venkoji captured Thanjavur but he proclaimed himself as the king. History says, Venkoji is half brother of Chatrapati Shivaji. Marathi's make a dish called "Amti" which is a mix of Lentil and Kokum (a native souring agent, tastes sour like tamarind). In Thanjavur when kokum went out of stock, it was replaced by tamarind and in went various vegetables along with tuvar dal. There are various versions of sambar story. One story says that it was made by a cook in the Maratha's Fort when the store ran out of kokum hence the cook managed it with tamarind. Another version says that it was Shambaji (Chatrapati's Son) who made it when the royal chef was away. Yet another version says that this was served to Shambaji, he liked it very much, thus named after him. Whatever the story may be, this prepration has won millions of hearts around the world.


There are two types of Sambar

1. Prepared with Sambar Powder
2. Prepared with freshly ground coconut masala

Sharing the "Arachu Vitta" version (i.e.) Freshly ground coconut masala based.

Vegetables that are used (you use any one or a mix of vegetables) :- Ashgourd, Pumpkin, Drum stick, Onion, Shallots, Tomato, Carrot, Beetroot, Ladies Finger, greens (yes greens!) etc..

Onion sambar itself is a separate variety. Which I will share in the coming posts....

Sambar Making video is here :-

Ingredients :-

  1. Tamarind - 1 lemon size
  2. Ashgourd cubes - 1 cup
  3. Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
  4. Salt to taste
  5. Jaggery (grated) 1 spoon
  6. Asafoetida powder - 1/4 tsp
  7. Curry Leaves - 1 sprig (for garnishing)
  8. Tuvar dal - 1/4 cup

For masala :-

  1. Channa dal - 1 tsp
  2. Dried Red Chillies - 2-3 nos.
  3. Coriander seeds - 1 spoon
  4. Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
  5. Curry leaves - 7 nos.
  6. Grated coconut - 3 spoons
For tempering :-

  1. Oil - 1 tbsp
  2. Mustard Seeds - 1/4 tsp

Procedure :-

  • Cook Tamarind and Extract 3 cups of tamarind water.
  • In a vessel add the tamarind water, vegetable cubes, turmeric powder, salt, asafoetida, jaggery and bring to boil
  • Roast the items 1 to 5 and along with coconut grind it to a paste.
  • Cook Tuvar Dal, mash it lightly and keep it ready.
  • When the vegetable is cooked, add the dal to it. 
  • When it starts boiling, add the ground masala and let it cook till foam forms on top.
  • Now make the tempering and add it to the prepared sambar.
  • Put some curry leaves and leave it closed for sometime, so that the curry leaves flavour will get infused into the sambar nicely.
  • Aromatic Arachu Vitta Sambar is Ready!

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