An exotic Indian seasoning…
There are a few lightly fiery seasonings that are musts for authentic Indian cuisine, and sambar powder is among one of the most important. It’s used to make sambar, a delicious lentil-based soup that’s often a precursor (or a side) to the main Indian meal. Sambar powder, too, can be a substitute to rasam powder for making rasam – a thin soup that’s typically served atop rice.
In both cases, it’s the popular Indian kashmiri chili that provides a light simmer of heat. These are mild peppers (1,000 to 2,000 Scoville heat units), but enough are called for in the recipe that you’ll feel the spiciness.
- In a pan over medium-low heat, toast the coriander and cumin seeds, stirring often, until the seeds brown slightly (typically 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant). Transfer the seeds from the pan to a large bowl and place to the side.
- Place the kashmiri chilies in the same pan over medium-low heat. Stirring often, roast the kashmiri until they start to lightly brown, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the chilies to the same bowl as the coriander and cumin seeds.
- Place the fenugreek seeds in the same pan over medium-low hear and toast them until they are lightly browned, approximately 1 minute (or until fragrant). Transfer the fenugreek seeds to the same large bowl as the other spices.
- Place the black peppercorns in the pan and, stirring often, heat the black peppercorns until fragrant - approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer the black peppercorns to the spice bowl.
- Place the chana dal into the pan over medium-low heat. Roast the chana dal, stirring often, until lightly browned, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the chana dal into the spice bowl.
- Place the urad dal into the pan over medium-low heat. Toast the urad dal, stirring often until lightly browned, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the urad dal into the spice bowl.
- Place the curry leaves into the pan over medium-low heat. Stir the leaves until they crisp (or if using dried leaves until they become fragrant). Transfer the leaves to the spice bowl.
- Place the mustard seed into the pan over medium-low heat. Heat the seeds until they pop (approximately 1 to 2 minutes), then transfer them to the spice bowl.
- Remove the pan from the heat, then add in the hing. Stir until the hing slightly changes color and becomes aromatic. Transfer the hing into the spice bowl.
- Add the turmeric to the spice bowl and lightly stir. Allow the spices to fully cool to room temperature before starting the grinding process.
- Using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind the spice mix into a fine powder. This will likely take a few rounds. Transfer the powder into a bowl then mix all rounds of grinding to fully incorporate all spices.
- Use immediately or transfer the sambar powder into an airtight container and seal for future use.