Sambar Masala

Sambar Masala spice mix
This fragrant spice mix made with fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and other aromatics is an essential ingredient in sambar, the ubiquitous split-pea stew of South India. See the recipe for Sambar Masala »Ingalls Photography

This fragrant spice mix made with fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and other aromatics is an essential ingredient in sambar, the ubiquitous split-pea stew of South India. This recipe first appeared in the tablet edition of our August/September 2014 special India issue.

Sambar Masala
Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high. Cook dals, stirring occasionally, until golden, 3–4 minutes. Add coriander and sesame seeds, asafoetida, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and chiles; cook until fragrant and chiles are a deep reddish brown, 3-4 minutes. Stir in fenugreek seeds and salt; cook 30 seconds more and let cool. Stir in roasted chana dal and, working in batches, transfer to a spice grinder; grind to a powder. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Yield: makes 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 12 cup urad dal (skinned split black lentils)
  • 14 cup chana dal (yellow split peas)
  • 13 cup masoor dal (split red lentils)
  • 14 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 12 tbsp. sesame seeds
  • 1 12 tsp. asafoetida
  • 1 12 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 22 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • 10 chiles de árbol
  • 1 12 tsp. fenugreek seeds
  • 3 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 12 cups roasted chana dal

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high. Cook dals, stirring occasionally, until golden, 3–4 minutes. Add coriander and sesame seeds, asafoetida, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and chiles; cook until fragrant and chiles are a deep reddish brown, 3-4 minutes. Stir in fenugreek seeds and salt; cook 30 seconds more and let cool. Stir in roasted chana dal and, working in batches, transfer to a spice grinder; grind to a powder. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 months.