Kadamba Sambar

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).

img_2402 Kadamba Sambar
Kadamba sambar

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:

img_2407 Kadamba Sambar
Kadamba sambar recipe

Time Taken: 40 min

Yields: 1¾ Litre (1750 ml)


  1. Red gram (thuvaram paruppu/ toor dal) – ¾ cup
  2. Tamarind – a lemon-sized ball
  3. Vegetables of your choice
  4. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  5. Salt – 1½ tsp
img_2352 Kadamba Sambar


img_2357 Kadamba Sambar
Vegetables for making Kadamba Sambar

For sambar powder:

  1. Red chillies – 12 Nos.
  2. Coriander seeds – 1/8 cup (25 g)
  3. Bengal gram (kadalai paruppu) – ½ tbsp
  4. Red gram (thuvaram paruppu) – ½ tbsp
  5. Fenugreek seeds (vendhayam) – ¼ tsp
  6. Asafoetida block (perungaya katti) – a small piece (or hing powder – ¼ tsp)
  7. Oil for frying asafoetida block – ¼ tsp
img_2370 Kadamba Sambar
Ingredients for sambar powder

For coconut paste:

  1. Coconut pieces – 5 (each 1 inch)
  2. Shallots – 5 Nos
  3. Cumin seeds (jeeragam) – ¼ tsp
img_2393 Kadamba Sambar

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.
toordal Kadamba Sambar

(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.
smbrpodi Kadamba Sambar
How to prepare sambar powder

(iii) Preparing coconut paste:

  • Grind coconut, shallots & cumin into a paste and keep aside.
cocntpst1 Kadamba Sambar

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.
smbrveg1 Kadamba Sambar
  • 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.
kdmbsmbr Kadamba Sambar
Kadamba Sambar Recipe

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.
kadamba-sambar-veg Kadamba Sambar

97 comments on “Kadamba SambarAdd yours →

    1. It may sound like that, but it is as easy as making any Indian curry ! But I must warn you that you may get addicted to this delicious curry, if you try it once !! 🙂

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