How to make authentic Tamilian-Brahmin Sambhar

Don’t wait for a wedding invitation to eat this sumptuous South Indian sambhar.

Written by Subhashni Venkatesh | Tirunelveli | Updated: March 28, 2016 2:54 pm
sambar1_759 The wedding sambhar is thicker than the variety made at home and also uses more vegetables.

The main feature of authentic food of Tamil-Brahmin community is Satvik food influenced by traditional Ayurvedic beliefs. They strongly believe the food occupies an indispensable place in shaping one’s personality and traits. There are certain spices and root vegetables like garlic and shallots which are avoided during auspicious days, which are believed to stimulate aggression. And instead of red chillies, black pepper is used on some occasions.

Guests at Tamil-Brahmin marriages never miss the meals served on the banana leaf. Different items on the leaf are served in a specific order and a particular place is allotted for each item. Pickles, chips, papads, which are to be consumed in lesser quantity, are served on the narrow side of the leaf. Vegetable gravies and fried dishes such as curry, kootu, poriyal and pachadies are served on the broader side of the leaf. Considering the food habits of older guests at the wedding, the lunch is cooked traditionally with fresh spices. Garlic and onions never find the place in the palate of main course menu served after the marriage muhurtham.

The Kalyana sambar made at weddings is thicker than the regular sambhar made at home. It is made by adding a mixture of veggies like yellow pumpkin, drumstick and Brinjals which are cut in to big pieces. Freshly fried and coarsely ground spices and hing add flavour to the sambhar.

Loads of curry leaves are added to enhance its aroma. Since it is made using more than one vegetable it is also called as Kadhamba Sambar. Though pickles are served to have with curd rice, sambhar is also served till the end of the lunch since most of the Tamil Brahmins prefer the vegetables in sambhar as side dish to curd rice.

Authentic Tamilian Brahmin Kalyana Sambhar

3-4 – Bite-sized pieces of cut drumstick, yellow pumpkin and brinjal
2 cups – Tamarind juice, extracted from a small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
100g – Toor dal, pressure cooked until the dal is soft
1 tsp – Sesame oil
1/4 tsp – Turmeric powder
Salt – To taste

For seasoning
1/2 tsp – Mustard seeds
1/2 tsp – Fenugreek seeds
2 – Red chillies
1 – Green chilli

To garnish
5 sprigs – Curry leaves and Coriander leaves

For the sambhar masala
2 tsp – Sesame oil
2 tbsp – Coriander seeds
1 tbsp – Bengal gram
1 tsp – Black gram
6 – Dried red chillies
1/4 tsp – Fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp – grated coconut

* To make the sambhar masala, heat a pan with 2 tsp of oil.
* Fry the coriander seeds, Bengal gram, black gram, red chillies and fengugreek seeds until golden brown.
* Finally, add the grated coconut and fry for a while.
* Cool the mixture and grind to a powder.
* Boil the vegetables in tamarind juice with turmeric powder and salt.
* Add some water if necessary. When the vegetables are boiled add the boiled toor dal and allow it boil for 2 minutes.
* Then, add the sambhar powder and mix well. Garnish with curry leaves and Coriander leaves.
* Add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, red chillies, green chillies and hing powder that have been tempered in a tsp of oil.
* Serve hot.

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  1. vijayaraj mukundan
    Mar 28, 2016 at 11:06 am
    Tamil Brahmin sambhar using sesame oil?????????????????????! Are you nuts????.
    1. A
      Apr 1, 2016 at 6:24 am
      Tamilian brahmin sambar. I guess the caste runs deep into our food as well..wonder if they'll make an article on non-brahmin sambar as well. :P
      1. A
        Sep 29, 2017 at 12:52 pm
        well - nothing wrong in classifying cuisines this way based on caste. after all, different communities make dishes differently. the issue starts only when people start believing that a specific community "A" is superior to the rest and people from community "B" or others are losers.
      2. A
        Mar 29, 2016 at 2:30 am
        I have attended a tamil brahmin (iyengar) wedding and the food was exceptional and very aromatic and tasty. Being a Punjabi, i do appreciate the difference cuisine of India and the Tamil brahmin got lots of food varieties, just unbelievable
        1. A
          Mar 28, 2016 at 6:53 pm
          Looks delicious! Please do a feature on Telugu Brahmin cooking traditions too, they are similar yet different from the Tamil style. lt;br/gt;If young people can see the great culinary variety that produces delicious vegetarian food, they might be more open to vegetarianism which has health benefits for individuals and also helps control emissions for the world.
          1. Kit Kittappa
            Mar 31, 2016 at 10:14 pm
            Brahmins in Tamilnadu and elsewhere claim that their mother tongue is Sanskrit. So, Tamil-Brahmin is an oxymoron. Sambar is from Tamil cuisine. Also, the words "papad" or "papadam" are not used in Tamil. The correct word to be used when writing about Tamil cuisine is "appalam".
            1. A
              Arul Govindan
              May 25, 2017 at 9:16 am
              Oh Really, this shows you have not visited Vaishnavite, shrines who consider Nala a divya prabandam thirattu, thiruppaavai etc as the main Only those brahmins who are priests proclaim themselves as Sanskrit guys who are just 5-10 of that community rest are all Tamil Brahmins who won't even understand Sanskrit! I have many tamil brahmin friends who won't even know a single word/meaning of sanskrit, sweet,good cultured people to move with! Some times, journos/authors who publish the articles do use most commonly understood words like in Pappadam for maximum reach comprehension, which is good! Tamil obsession won't help anyone Kit KIttappa -no tamilian wil have such funny,typical northie names like kit kittappa /kattapa - guess u're a supremacist muslim troll with cover name who kill other human beings because they don't follow your faith yo' re out here to spread islamic ISI ideology to split natives of INDIA, for ur petty reasons As per your logic, arabic is alien to india
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