A southern Indian spice blend

December 22, 2010

Sambhar is a southern Indian spice blend, and the southern equivalent to garam masala. The nutty flavor comes from the addition of channa dal, yellow split peas, and urad dal, small white lentils. I don’t add the customary amount of fenugreek seeds, as they can make the sambhar overwhelmingly bitter. For a more traditional sambhar spice blend, double the amount of fenugreek that is listed below. Add sambhar to soups, stews, and sauces and sprinkle onto meat before broiling or grilling.


  • 3 dried red chile peppers
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon white lentils (urad dal)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow split peas (chana dal)
  • 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cracked peppercorns
  • 40 curry leaves


Place all of the spices in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the spices until the mustard seeds begin to pop and the skillet starts to smoke, stirring often, about 3 1/2 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder or coffee mill and grind until powder-fine. Store in an airtight glass jar for up to 4 months.

Makes about ¾ cup