South Indian Sambhar Powder

The third in our set of classic Indian spice-mixes or masalas, sambhar powder is the basis of the south Indian “curry” of the same name. Sambhar most likely originated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. Did you know the word curry is an Anglicisation of the Tamil word kari, meaning with sauce?  This may be the closest we get to “real” curry!

Vegetables are cooked with lentils, sambhar spices, curry leaves and tamarind. Other spices may be added in regional variations. The dish is then finished with an aromatic oil (sagar) with black mustard seeds and curry leaves and served with rice. It’s also a common accompaniment to idly and dosa and  often served for breakfast throughout India.

indian masala splice blend

Sambhar Powder

A masala mix essential for south Indian sambhar. Recipe follows later
5 from 4 votes


  • 1 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 cup toor dal
  • 1/4 cup urid dal (washed split balck lentils)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp hing (oesofetida)
  • 1/2 cup whole red chilli


  • roast the mustard seeds until they release their aroma and just start to pop. Put them into a bowl and allow them to cool
  • roast the remaining spices, lentils and chillies individually until each turns a light brown. Add them to the bowl 0ne by one
  • when the spices have cooled grind to a fine powder in a coarse stone mortar and pestle or electric grinder
    south indian sambhar curry
  • store the remainder in a sealed jar away from bright sunlight for up to 3 months

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