Troubleshooting Kuzhambu/Sambar – Tips and Tricks

Troubleshooting KuzhambuTroubleshooting Kuzhambu and Sambar


How often have you wondered what to do with Kuzhambu or Sambar that had not matched your taste. At times it leaves with dismal feeling and as the person who made the dish, we either end up eating unpleasant one or just discard the one prepared. I had done it in the past, and leaves a very heavy heart (probably because I dunked my heart in the food). Troubleshooting Kuzhambu is an attempt to share my experience in fixing dishes.

Preparing good food is an artistic skill but adjusting food requires expertise and mastery. I am sure most of you are masters/experts in cooking. It sometimes happens to me that mindlessly I mess the dish. Not having attention in the food, seeing TV and cooking, speaking to someone and cooking leaves food disaster. Sometime the effort needed to redo is so much that I feel I can throw and make dish a-new.

Here are some tips and techniques you can to troubleshoot and correct the dish.

Troubleshooting Kuzhambu


Problem Correction

Kuzhambu is burnt

At time this happens. Especially if you leave it on stove without stirring. Trust me and do the below

–          Save as much food as possible from top. Do not mix try to remove the stuck portion of food.

–          Transfer to another clean vessel.

–          Take two betel leaves (Vetrilai)

–          Add them to the dish and bring to boil

–          In the beginning you can smell only betel leaves looking as if whole stuff is turning into betel leaves sambar.

–          Let food boil for 5 minutes. Now carefully take out the leaves alone from the dish.

–          Dish would smell fresh with no sign of burning.


Kuzhambu becoming more Spicy or Salty

You can try doing any of the below

–          Boil Yellow Pumpkin in plain water, mash and add to the dish. Pumpkin has sweetness in it and it has tendency to absorb additional spice level

–          Boil a potato in plain water and add to the dish. You can add it as cube or mash depending on the consistency desired.

–          Add a spoon of rice flour in another spoon of water and add to the dish. This will make Sambar to thicken. But will reduce spice also.

–          You can season with another 2 tablespoon of oil as oil also offsets spice level.

Sambar or Kuzhmbu has less Tanginess. Tamarind is less. Do not add tamarind directly. It would spoil the whole dish. Soak additional tamarind in water and squeeze juice. In a separate kadai, bring tamarind to boil till raw smell goes off. Now add the cooked tamarind to the kuzhambu. Earlier I used to grind country tomatoes and add to sambar. But nowadays I find the country ones are also not tangy as they were before. Probably current variety is also hybrid one with round shape.
Kuzhambu/Sambar is watery Do not take out the top water. All flavours will be lost. Add the kuzhambu/Sambar to a kadai and bring to boil. Allow water to evaporate. Wait till right consistency.
Kuzhambu is less spicy Simplest method is to add 2 dry chillies as part of seasoning. But spice level is very less, add chilli powder to the kuzhambu and boil it at least for 5 minutes till the spice blends to the food.
Kuzhambu is less salty Add salt and bring to boil for 5 minutes till salt is absorbed
Vegetable in the Kuzhambu/Sambar is not cooked but sambar is done.

Take out the vegetable and cook them separately. Add the cooked one to the main dish and boil together for 5 minutes till all ingredients blend well.

Kuzhambu is not aromatic

Well prepared Kuzhambu has its own aroma even if the condiments are absent. You can try the below

–          Make a seasoning with curry leaves, finely chopped coriander stem or Asefoetida.

It would help to bring back life in Kuzhambu.


Here are the simple things to follow to make good Kuzhambu or Sambar

*Always cook the vegetable in plain water. Add tamarind juice only after vegetable is cooked. Vegetables take long time to cook in tamarind water.

*Certain vegetables like Sambar onion or Shallots are better in taste and smell if fried in a spoon of oil.

*Radish normally takes very long time to cook. I either saute in oil for faster cooking or pressure cook the pieces to save time.

*Adding chopped coriander stems increases aroma and takes the dish to the next level. However chop stems finely (I use scissor to get fine pieces) and add them along with vegetable. Cook stems well so that finally dissolve in the sambar. This is technique followed by acclaimed chef (and so you are hearing it from me :))

*If you are making Arachuvitta sambar, adding a spoon of “Khus Khus” along with coconut while grinding results in creamier sambar. This is a master secret 🙂 🙂

*Making Sambar/Kuzhambu in Kalchatti or earthernware increases the taste and the Kuzhambu would stay fresh for a day. Next best vessel we use is Uruli. They have thick bottom and hence they retain and spread heat uniformly.


Related: Have you read my troubleshooting guide on Dosa and Curd making guide. They are quite informative.

            Also try Arachuvitta Sambar, Tiffin Sambar and Vatha Kuzhambu recipes from Rasakitchen. They are quick and tasty.


If you like my post above or any comments on the above, do let me know by commenting below. You can also comment based on any of my social media by clicking the icons in the post. Your comments provide encouragement to me and makes my day. Hope you would make my day :).




Comments 2

  • While cooking vegetables in tamarind water takes time to cook, it is healthy as cooking in tamarind water retains the freshness of the vegetables.

    If the sambar is salty, you can add cooked toor Dhal and boil it together for 2 to 3 minutes.

    Adding pinch of jaggery powder (just a pinch); increases the taste

    Add a spoon of ghee towards the end makes the sambar smells good

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