Growing up, one of my distinct memories is walking to the grinding mill with my mum so we could stock up on whatever ground spice mix we were running low on. They make all sorts of powders there including buy Sambhar Powder, Rasam Powder, Chilli Powder, Turmeric Powder etc.
I remember the strong smell of spices in the mill making everyone sneeze. It was like magic to my five-year-old eyes, watching some chillies and other ground spices go in at the top of this metal upturned funnel. There’s usually some banging with a big wooden stick and a noise unlike any other you’ve ever heard – the kind that drown out any busy city crowds. A man standing on a stool would bang these ingredients around and a few minutes later, out came this ground mixture like water from a pump. Fascinating stuff for a young mind.
But nowadays of course typical family sizes in India are much smaller compared to those days and there is hardly any need for a grinding mill when everything is available in small packets! Anyhow, much as I miss watching “the magic” happen, I don’t miss the taste having perfected this recipe over the years. Sambhar Powder can be used for any number of reasons, not just to make Sambhar, but you can use it to enhance the flavours of a dry side dish or use it in rice dishes such as Bisibelabath or Vangibath.
This recipe should yield roughly 400 – 500gms of Sambhar powder, be sure to save it for future use in an airtight container.
So what’ll you need?
¼ teaspoon vegetable oil
10 Dry Red Chillies
2tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds
¼ Cup Toor Dal
1 Teaspoon Seasame Seeds (Optional)
1 Tablespoon Cumin Seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
Add the oil to a frying pan on low to medium heat. It is really important that the pan isn’t too hot, this can cause the whole spices to burn and your Sambhar powder will be quite bitter!
Add all the ingredients and roast for a couple of minutes, make sure to gently keep moving them around in the pan so that nothing gets burnt.
Allow to cool completely.
Grind into a fine powder in a spice grinder/coffee grinder/mixer that mixes dry ingredients.
Store in an airtight container.