THE QUEEN OF SPICES IN MY KITCHEN SHELF - SAMBAR PODI
Many of you may wonder when I include Sambar podi as an ingredient in not only Sambar, but also in rasams, kozhambus and koottus, various curries. I even use them in North Indian currys such as Paneer Butter Masala or Gobi Aloos, Koftas and so on. I also use it as a garnish on dahi vadas, pachadis, in aloo parathas and literally every other dish that calls for chilli powder. The term ‘SAMBARA’ in Kannada means “pungent or aromatic vegetable substance used as flavoring” as per the dictionary. The Sambar podi (Spice powder) in my kitchen shelf is the queen of all spices and it combines very well with the other specified ingredients to lend a unique flavor to various dishes.
When I set up an independent house hold after my first child was born, mother sent me jars and jars of this sambar podi – the most precious gift a girl in that position would wish for - with who ever visited me from her place. My mother–in–law supplied me with her special flavorsome rasam podi. All my dishes turned out quite delicious with the two podis ruling my kitchen.
With the advent of the 21st century , when all the younger generations are scattered all over the globe, it is impossible for them to find help to pound the spices, or take the spices to the “misheen” (shops with grinding machines).
This post is for the die hard connoisseur who is willing to get the traditional flavours of the Sambar podi, from wherever she/he might be stationed. Chillies also come in a variety of shapes, sizes and shades of red, and all types are not available everywhere. The chilli variety I use is Guntur Red Chillies, as they are quite spicy. Byadagi chillies are less pungent, but provide a bright red colour. Here is a good site that describes different chillie varieties in India. You can however use any variety that appeals to you, in terms of pungency and colour.
For convenience and since some of you asked for cup measures rather than grams, I have provided the recipes using red chillie and turmeric powders instead of the whole spices. In this recipe I have used ready made MTR Chillie powder. If you want the recipe using whole spices and large quantities, do check this post.
1. Red chilly powder - 2 cups (Whole red chillies are not used here, since it can not be contained in cup measures. Same applies to turmeric sticks also.)
2. Turmeric powder – 2 heaped tea spoons
3. Dhania (Coriander seeds) – 2 cups
4. Tur dal (Red gram / split pigeon peas ) – ¼ cup
5. Chana dal (Bengal gram dal) – ¼ cup
6. Urad Dal ( Black gram dal) – 1 tbsp
7. Black pepper corns – 2 tbsps
8. Cumin seeds – 2 tbsps
9. Fenugreek seeds – 2 tsp
10. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
1. Grind all the ingredients except the turmeric powder and the chillie powder into a fine powder.
2. When the powder is fine enough, add the turmeric powder and run the mixer.
3. Finally add the chillie powder and blend in the mixer.
4. Stop running the mixer at intervals so that it does not get heated, as even this little heat will roast the ingredients and change the flavour!
7. Store the sambar podi in clean, dry, air tight jars to preserve the flavour.
The snap above shows the various lovely colours in the mixer stage by stage - lentils and dhania (corriander seeds), then addition of turmeric, and addition of red chillie powder little by little, that finally contribute to the lovely orange red of sambar powder. Now your Spice Queen is ready to rule your kitchen.