This is my mom’s special tiffin sambar recipe. It’s unique in taste from the secret tiffin sambar podi that goes in making it.
No hotel tiffin sambar comes close to mom’s tiffin sambar recipe, to us it’s special! Happy to share this secret recipe with y’all, hope y’all love it as much as my family does! Popularly called as idli sambar down South this recipe for sambar can also be served with dosa, pongal or upma.
Our festival days must have this tiffin sambar accompanied with idli and vada for the breakfast. I cant imagine a single diwali when mom did not make this sambar and idli. Special day starts with a most delicious flavor packed shallots sambar to go with ‘the most softest’ idli’s. My mom makes THE BEST idli’s in the whole wide world and we all love our idli’s with mom’s special idli sambar or tiffin sambar.
Like I said this is unique tiffin sambar! The podi (or powder) to add in making this sambar is the secret behind the bold flavor and taste of this dish.
The specialty of this sambar(or any Tamil Nadu style sambar) is the delicious, fragrant, flavor packed ‘sambar podi’ and also we use only shallots while making sambar. At home usually tiffin sambar does not hold any vegetables. If you are a spice lover, you can increase the amount of red chili powder and also the measure of ‘sambar podi’. The nutty flavor packed sambar with hot idli, and a dribble of ghee…i call it HEAVEN!
It goes just perfect with dosas, pongal, upma’s too.
Tips To Make Best Tiffin Sambar
- Always use shallots to make the sambar. Shallots (or small onions) add so much flavor to the sambar which you won’t get it if normal onions are used.
- Make the sambar podi fresh. I don’t make big batches as I always prefer to use fresh sambar podi to make this tiffin sambar recipe. Make small batches and store sambar podi in air tight containers and don’t store it more than a week.
- Make sambar as spicy as you want by adding more or less dried red chilies in sambar podi. You can also increase the amount of red chili powder to make spicy sambar.
- My family always prefers idli sambar without vegetables. Feel free to add vegetables to the sambar if you like it. BEST vegetable to use for idli sambar recipes are drumsticks and brinjal.
- Always add tempering in the end once sambar is ready. This will add nutty flavor to the sambar which will be appreciated.
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Tiffin Sambar Recipe
- 1 cup toor dal
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 cup shallots
- 1 big tomato
- 2 sprig curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 3 to 4 tablespoon tiffin sambar powder
- 2 teaspoon tamarind juice
- 1 tablespoon oil
For tiffin sambar powder
- 6 dried red chilies
- 1 ½ tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 2 tablespoon Bengal gram channa dal
- 2 tablespoon black pepper corns
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- Generous pinch asafetida
- 2 dried red chilies
- 1 teaspoon fine slices onion
- Rinse dal well. Soak dal for about 1 hours, this helps in cooking dal faster. Once soaked, discard the water from the dal and add fresh water. Add cloves, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon oil to dal and pressure cook it for 2 whistles.
- While dal is cooking, you can make the tiffin sambar powder. In a pan dry roast red chilies, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, Bengal gram, black pepper corns one by one until roasted well and turns fragrant. Let the roasted spice cool down, and then grind into fine powder. You can store this tiffin sambar powder in air tight container for a few months.
- In a kadai, heat oil. Once oil turns hot add curry leaves and chopped shallots and sautxe9 till onions turns translucent.
- Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes turns mushy.
- Add red chili powder and 3 to 4 tablespoon of tiffin sambar powder and salt to taste, give it a mix.
- Add cooked and mashed dal to the kadai and bring it to boil. Check for seasoning and adjust according to your taste.
- Add tamarind juice and let it boil for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Turn off stove, sambar is ready, we need to add the tempering to the sambar now.
- In a small pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and let it crackle. Add thin onion slices and sautxe9 till onions turn golden brown. Add curry leaves, dried red chilies and asafetida, mix well. Remove from stove and add this tempering to the sambar. Give it a mix.
- Serve tiffin sambar with idli, dosa or even pongal. The best way to serve this sambar is with hot idlis in a bowl, dribble some ghee and pour hot sambar on it. Pure bliss!