Kadamba sambar is a traditional flavorful South Indian curry prepared with assorted (kadambam) vegetables & tubers usually served with rice. It is popularly known as idi sambar (meaning pounded sambar) in Tirunelveli & Kanyakumari regions, as the spice powder was earlier prepared by pounding in a large stone mortar (ural) using a 3-feet long metal-tipped wooden pestle (ulakkai).
We prepare this delectable flavorful sambar on the day of Pongal, a harvest festival celebrated in Tamilnadu in January. Next day the left-over kadamba sambar is made into pazhang-curry (or sunda curry) and served with spongy dosa for breakfast and also with hot rice (drizzled with sesame oil/ virgin coconut oil/ ghee) or curd rice for lunch.
I like to prepare kadamba sambar not only on the Pongal day but also for any festival or special occasion at home. I usually prepare this sambar & avial in large quantity so that I can make delicious sunda curry next day as shown below:
Kadamba Sambar Recipe:
Now the recipe for the Tirunelveli-style kadamba sambar that makes every festival and every feast so special:
Time Taken: 40 min
Yields: 1¾ Litre (1750 ml)
- Red gram (thuvaram paruppu/ toor dal) – ¾ cup
- Tamarind – a lemon-sized ball
- Vegetables of your choice
- Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
- Salt – 1½ tsp
For sambar powder:
- Red chillies – 12 Nos.
- Coriander seeds – 1/8 cup (25 g)
- Bengal gram (kadalai paruppu) – ½ tbsp
- Red gram (thuvaram paruppu) – ½ tbsp
- Fenugreek seeds (vendhayam) – ¼ tsp
- Asafoetida block (perungaya katti) – a small piece (or hing powder – ¼ tsp)
- Oil for frying asafoetida block – ¼ tsp
For coconut paste:
- Coconut pieces – 5 (each 1 inch)
- Shallots – 5 Nos
- Cumin seeds (jeeragam) – ¼ tsp
Mise en place:
(i) Cooking lentils:
- Wash red gram, transfer to a cooking vessel and add turmeric powder (½ tsp) and water (1½ cup).
- Pressure cook lentils (simmer for 10 min after bringing to high pressure), mash well and keep aside.
(ii) Making Sambar powder:
- Heat a pan with oil in low flame.
- Roast asafoetida block and remove from pan.
- In the same pan add Bengal gram & red gram and roast them until golden.
- Add coriander seeds and roast until the aroma is released.
- Then add fenugreek seeds & red chillies and roast them for few seconds (until warm).
- Remove from heat.
- Grind into a powder when they reach room temperature and keep sambar powder aside.
(iii) Preparing coconut paste:
- Grind coconut, shallots & cumin into a paste and keep aside.
How to prepare Kadamba Sambar:
- Wash vegetables and cut them into chunks as shown below.
- Soak brinjal in water to prevent blackening and keep aside.
- Soak tamarind in hot water and extract its juice using one litre of water.
- Heat a cooking pan in high flame after pouring tamarind extract into it.
- Add chopped vegetables & turmeric powder (½ tsp) and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the flame to medium.
- When the vegetables are half cooked add brinjal.
- Add salt (¾ tsp) and cook all the vegetables until soft.
- Then add sambar powder, pour water (250 ml) and bring it to a boil.
- Finally stir in mashed lentils followed by coconut paste and bring it to a final boil.
- Remove from heat and garnish with tempering.
- Serve hot kadamba sambar with rice, idli or dosa.
Tips & Tweaks:
- If you are not using raw mango you may have to increase the tamarind accordingly.
- Roast the ingredients for sambar powder in low flame to prevent them getting burnt.
- If you are using asafoetida powder sprinkle over the sambar just before the final boil.
- You can add as many vegetables as you want shown below for making kadamba sambar.