Sambar / Thenga aracha sambar /Sambar with coconut -(Palakkad special)

Sambar is a gravy dish made in southern parts of India .It has so many different variations and is an important item in sadhya.This recipe here is from  my ancestral home in Palakkad .I love calling it authentic… if u don’t mind .Sambar is made very often for lunch so by mid morning the distinct aroma of the roasting spices starts  to kick in ,which  is hard for one to ignore. With a large backyard and farms, you guessed it right many of the vegs came from a small kitchen garden.

Did I tell you even tamarind is picked from the yard… it is not used directly it goes through a long process of peeling ,deseeding ,sun drying and preserving with salt .As a kid our summer afternoons were spent in the yard raking leaves looking for fallen tamarind pods ,I would be so excited every time I got one , I used to eat tamarind till my mouth became sore.Thinking of  tamarind,mmmm …how it  tastes and the sweet sour smell of it …. oh my god ! can  u resist  drooling …

Every pod had 5 or 6 seeds .Do u think we kids threw that off   commoonn ..that was a treasure I collected for game we played .Not that we did not have other toys to play with but this is a group game.The game had rules and who got the most number was the winner .It is so interesting that sometimes the adults too joined in.
Times have changed .You and I  have grown up but memories of childhood are sometimes alike and it becomes even more precious with passing years.
Coming back to the recipe,


Toor dal-1/2 cup(thuvara paripu)
Tamarind – a small lemon size(dissolved in half glass water)
Turmeric powder-1/4 tsp
salt to taste

Vegetables used:

 Drumstick-1to 2
Ashgourd(Kumbalanga)- a small piece
Ladies finger – 2 or 3
 Brinjal-2 (small)

For dry roasting:
Coconut grated -1/2 cup
Coriander seeds-1 tbsp
Whole red chili -6-7
Raw rice-1/4 tsp (Pachari)
Fenugreek seeds- 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida – a pea size from the block
Curry leaves-very few

For seasoning:
Mustard seeds-1 tsp
whole red chili-2

curry leaves- few
Coriander leaves -few


1.Heat 1 tsp oil to that put the asafoetida piece turn it to become crisp on all sides ,when cool powder it.
2.Heat a wok add whole red chili,coriander seeds ,raw rice,fenugreek seeds give it a few stirs then add grated coconut ,curry leaves , keep stirring constantly till the coconut become yellowish (not brown).when this cools down grind to a paste adding water and asafoetida powdered .
2.Cook dal and mash it.Keep it aside.
3.Dice the vegs .Lightly saute the ladiefinger and brinjal in coconut oil till it gives out a nice smell(don’t let it turn brown).
Cook the vegs together ,adding water just enough to cook with salt and turmeric powder .When it is half cooked pour in the ground paste and tamarind extract let that too boil for a few minutes till all the raw smell goes and vegs are cooked .Add the dal ,add more water if u want curry leaves ,coriander leaves too let it boil for 3 to 4 minutes then switch off flame.

4 .Season with mustard and whole red chili using coconut oil.Note curry leaves went in directly to the curry 🙂
Serve it warm with rice and mezhukupuratti,papadam etc
All the grinding is done on stone and that is believed to add a special taste.
The authentic way is given in the recipe but I do make some alterations in my day to day cooking .
I do not use so much red chili hence I substitute with 1 tsp of red chili flakes and 1 tsp red chili powder ,
same with coriander -I use half seeds,half powder also I use store bought asafoetida powder..only difference while dry roasting is ,add powders towards the end or it will become burnt.
DO not make the curry too watery , mix well before serving and keep it closed once cool so the aromas do not escape.

Varutharacha sambar is slightly different from this as the coconut is roasted till it is brown for that.

Will be posting more sambar recipes, do check out when you get a chance.


8 Replies to “Sambar / Thenga aracha sambar /Sambar with coconut -(Palakkad special)”

  1. Jai

    My Mom used to make Palakadan Sambar this way! She is no more in this world, sigh! I for one could never tolerate the South Kerala, Tamil or Kannada versions of Sambar.

  2. Meena Kumar

    Jai,so sorry to hear about your mom.

    I exactly know what u are saying sambar with coconut makes a lot of difference right!I don't know if the pic is doing any justice but it is neither watery not too thick.It took me while to adjust with Southern side sambar.I have enough comedy events to write as a full post on ” why is the sambar like this!”:)))
    Thank you so much for stopping by Jai.I can already feel a connection:)

  3. Anonymous

    Hi! I just came back to tell you that this sambar was rocking! I made it today! I'm a newbie in the kitchen and I ran out of store bought sambar powder. I browsed the web and came to your sambar recipe – tried it out and actually roasted the coconut till it got brown (still getting the hang of things in the kitchen hehe) and the sambar was a deep brown colour! Before my husband could ask, why is the sambar this colour, I quickly informed him that this is varutharacha sambar! 😉 He didn't suspect a thing and relished the meal. Thanks Meena! So…have you posted the varuntharacha sambar recipe yet? Is it the same as this, but with more roasting of the coconut?

  4. Meena Kumar

    I am so glad to hear that u tried this recipe and liked it.
    There are some more ingredients in the varutharacha sambar I will post the recipe soon.Your method of roasting coconut to brown also works fine.
    Thank you so much for stopping by and writing back to me.

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