Sambar Masala

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 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.