Arachuvitta sambar – A Traditional main course

Arachuvitta Sambar Tanjore sambarArachuvitta sambar is a specialty in Tanjore cuisine. For the less ignited, Sambar is a gravy dish made with dal as a base where as Kuzhambu takes masala as a base. There are infinite variety of sambar and kuzhambu, with variation in consistency, kind of vegetables used, cooking methods, taste etc.

Tanjore cuisine has two main category of sambar, one which is regular made with toor dal and pre-powdered sambar powder and Arachuvitta sambar where the dish is made with fresh ground spices. In our house I always make Arachuvitta sambar. Arachuvitta sambar takes in less amount of dal than the normal sambar. My parents-in-law are old and they cannot digest heavy amount of dal. As I cannot cook separate meal for each, most of the time sambar means only Arachuvitta sambar. The ground spices add good base and help in increasing quantity of sambar.

This sambar can be made with any vegetable but the traditional ones are small onion, drum stick, Yellow pumpkin, Radish and Ash gourd (White pumpkin). You can add any of the above vegetable or a combination of the above. I make it often with green capsicum, which has very nice aroma.

Traditionally we use a vessel by name “uruli” but I use earthernware (called as Kachitti) for making the sambar. While you can use any utensil for making it, “uruli” or “Kachitti” adds its own taste to the dish. Earthernware sambar stays fresh for long and the vessel seeps out excess water and maintains consistency of sambar.
Do let me know your feedback on this recipe.

Arachuvitta Sambar

Recipe Cuisine: Indian |Recipe Category: Lunch
Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 30 min | Serves: 4


Toor dal – 1/3 of a cup
Tamarind – A small lemon sized ball
Sambar powder – 1 Tablespoon
Cut Vegetables (I added drumstick) – ½ cup
Asafoetida (Perungayam) – A generous pinch
Turmeric – one pinch
Salt – 1 Tablespoon

To grind:
Chenna dal (Kadalai Paruppu) – 1 Tsp
Coriander seeds (Dhania) – 2 Tsp
Coconut (Fresh/Desiccated) – 2 Tsp
Fenugreek seeds (Vendayam) – ½ Tsp
Oil – ¼ Tsp
Dry Chilli – 3 nos

For tempering
Oil – ½ Tsp
Mustard seeds – ¼ Tsp
Fenugreek seeds (Vendayam) – ¼ Tsp
Dry chilli – 3 Nos
Curry leaves – 1 spring


1. In a kadai, heat oil and add chenna dal, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, dry chilli (in that order). Roast the spices in a low to medium flame till you get nice aroma. Switch off the burner and add coconut. Fry coconut in the heat of the kadai itself. Add them in a mixer and grind to a fine paste by adding few spoons of water.
2. Cook the dal with a pinch of turmeric in a pressure cooker, mash and keep aside.
3. Extract juice from Tamarind. Squeeze atleast 2 times to get the extract, by adding ¼ cup of water each time.
4. In a thick bottomed vessel, add the tamarind extract, salt, sambar powder and vegetables and bring to boil.
5. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the ground masala. Bring to boil for about 5 min.
6. Now add the mashed dal and cook till all ingredients blend well. Adjust the consistency of sambar if needed. Add Asefoetida powder.
7. Temper with the items given in the tempering.


a. I add one tomato along with the vegetables, but traditionally it is not done. Tomato gives sambar bright red color and of course it is nutritious.
b. Keep stirring at regular intervals as the masala might settle at the bottom and burn.
c. Using coconut oil for tempering lends unique flavor to the sambar.
d. Tamarind has sour taste on the outer side and it tastes sweet at the end. Hence it should be gently squeezed till all juices are extracted. Never add boiling water to tamarind.
e. Adding a few stands of finely chopped coriander stem (leaves are used for chutney or rasam) along with vegetables gives it a unique aroma.
f. If you are adding Asefoetida in cake form, add it along with vegetables. If you are using powder, add it at the end.
g. Cooking time of different vegetables vary and some vegetables takes a long time to cook in tamarind water. In such case, cook them separately and add.

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