South Indian Food
Sambar with steamed rice is one of the most comforting meals, not just for the people in South India but others too. The whole deal of a hot tangy, spiced stew with lentils and veggies brings instant energy in the human body and gratification to the soul! And this Arachuvitta Sambar recipe is nothing different. It is full of nutrition and vegan too. Read on to learn more about the lovely Arachuvitta Sambar and its recipe.
What is Arachuvitta Sambar
‘Arachuvitta’ literally translates to ‘ground’ in Tamil. Since the spices are first roasted and then freshly ground with coconut for the masala in this sambar. Hence, the name Arachuvitta Sambar.
Arachuvitta Sambar is an extremely popular, almost a specialty dish in Tambram (Tamil Brahmin) homes. I can totally vouch for this because I have experienced the flavor and aroma of the freshly ground spice blend in this sambar. It is simply mind-blowing.
It may seem that there are many steps in the making of the Arachuvitta Sambar recipe. But it is simple and easy to make. You just need to prepare the masala carefully (as it is the ‘star’ in this sambar) and you are good to go.
More on this Arachuvitta Sambar
Yes, I’ll agree to the fact that the Arachuvitta Sambar is one of my favorite South Indian dishes. This version does not have onion, garlic, sambar powder and is also a 100% vegan. There’s absolutely nothing in this Arachuvitta Sambar recipe that you too would dislike. That’s my guarantee!
Other than the robust freshly ground masala, the choice of vegetables that go into this Arachuvitta Sambar is interesting. This recipe has drumsticks, ash gourd and carrots in it. But you can add your favorites too. The more, the merrier.
Personally, I am a fan of veggies and greens. Whenever I’m cooking at home, I love to use vegetables like okra (ladyfinger/bhindi), carrot, radish, capsicum, French beans, white or yellow pumpkin and drumsticks in the Arachuvitta Sambar recipe.
Pearl onions, sambar onions and tomatoes give it a good taste too. You can add these as well. The color of this Arachuvitta Sambar depends on the type of red chilies you add. I have used Byadagi (bedgi) red chilies which impart an orange hue to the sambar.
Turn this Arachuvitta Sambar into a complete meal full of goodness, by pairing it with steamed rice. Even I feel this is the best way to enjoy it. You can also savor this with Rava Idli, Set Dosa, vadas or uttapams.
How to make Arachuvitta Sambar
1. First rinse ½ cup arhar dal/tur dal (pigeon pea lentils) and add them in a 2 litre pressure cooker.
Next add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder and 2 cups water. Stir well and pressure cook the lentils for 8 to 9 whistles on medium to medium-high heat.
2. While the lentils are getting pressure cooked, take ½ cup hot water and 1.5 tablespoons tightly packed tamarind in a small bowl. Soak the tamarind in hot water for about 20 to 30 minutes.
3. Next, heat 2 teaspoons sesame oil (not the Asian variety of sesame oil) in a small pan. Keep the heat to a low.
Add the following spices:
- 4 to 5 dried red chilies (broken and seeds removed)
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon chana dal (husked and split Bengal gram)
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
4. Stir and roast the spices on low heat.
5. Switch off the heat when the spices turn fragrant. Remove the pan from the burner and allow the spices to cool down.
6. Next, heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil (gingelly oil) in a pot or pan. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and let them crackle.
7. Once the mustard seeds crackle, add 2 dried red chilies (broken and seeds removed) and a pinch of asafoetida (hing). Stir and fry till the red chilies change color. Don’t burn them.
8. Now, add 1 sprig curry leaves (about 12 to 15 curry leaves) and 2 drumsticks (peeled and chopped), 1 cup of diced ash gourd and 1 medium to large carrot (diced).
Note that if you plan to add pearl onions or regular onions, sauté them with curry leaves till they turn translucent.
Add the mixed vegetables after you sauté the onions. You can add about 1.5 cups of mixed vegetables except for drumsticks.
9. Mix very well.
10. By now the tamarind must have got soaked well. Squeeze the pulp from the tamarind in the bowl.
11. Add the tamarind pulp and ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder to the vegetables and stir. If you don’t want a sour taste in the vegetables, add the tamarind pulp later.
12. Next, add 1 cup water.
13. Add 1 teaspoon salt or as required.
14. Cover the pan and simmer on medium to high heat till the vegetables are cooked and tender.
Making Arachuvitta Sambar
15. While the vegetables are cooking, take the roasted spices in a chutney grinder or a wet grinder jar. Add 4 tablespoons fresh grated coconut. If you do not have grated coconut, add desiccated coconut.
16. Grind to a smooth paste with 5 to 6 tablespoons water. Add more water if required while grinding. Keep this ground sambar masala aside.
17. When the pressure settles down naturally, open the lid of the cooker and mash the dal with a whisk or spoon.
18. The vegetables will be cooked in 20 to 25 minutes. If the water is less while cooking, add some more water.
I added ½ cup water while the vegetables were getting cooked.
19. Next, add the mashed dal and the freshly ground sambar masala.
20. Stir very well. If the sambar is thick, add some more water. If it is thin, add 1 to 2 tablespoons rice flour to thicken it. Check the taste and add more salt if required.
22. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes more on medium to high heat.
23. Serve the Arachuvitta Sambar hot with steamed rice, idli, set dosa or any South Indian snack. If you want, you can garnish it with some chopped coriander leaves.
- Feel free to add vegetables of your choice. You can add about 1.75 to 2 cups diced vegetables that you prefer. Make sure not to over cook the vegetables.
- You can also make this dish with an equal mix of tur dal and moong dal (yellow moong lentils).
- If you don’t wish to have a sour taste in the vegetables, add the tamarind pulp later.
- While grinding the roasted spices for the sambar masala, if you don’t have fresh grated coconut, you can also use desiccated coconut.
- If you feel the water is less while cooking the vegetables for Arachuvitta Sambar, you can add more water. To adjust the consistency of the sambar, you can add more water if it is thick. In case its thin, you can add about 1 to 2 tablespoons rice flour to thicken it.
The main difference is that spices are first roasted, then freshly ground with coconut and added to the Arachuvitta Sambar whereas the regular sambar is a tangy stew made with lentils, vegetables and tamarind.
Yes, you can. Add about 1 to 2 teaspoons depending on the sourness and thickness of the tamarind paste.
In Tamil language, ‘arachuvitta’ means freshly ground. Since a freshly ground sambar masala is added in this recipe, it is known as Arachuvitta Sambar.
If the sambar is too thin, add about 1 to 2 tablespoons rice flour to thicken it.
Arachuvitta Sambar is a delicious variation of sambar made with lentils, vegetables and freshly ground sambar masala prepared from roasted spices and coconut. This is a no onion, no garlic recipe.
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
For pressure cooking lentils
For Arachuvitta sambar masala
Prevent your screen from going dark while making the recipe
Pressure cooking lentils
First, rinse tuvar dal a few times and add them to a 2 to 3 litre pressure cooker. Also add turmeric powder and 2 cups water. Stir well and pressure cook the lentils for 8 to 9 whistles on medium to medium high heat.
When the pressure settles down naturally, open the lid of the cooker and mash the dal with a wired whisk or spoon.
Preparing tamarind pulp
While the dal is getting pressure cooked, take ½ cup of hot water and tightly packed tamarind in a small bowl. Soak the tamarind in the hot water for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Later, squeeze the pulp from the tamarind in the bowl. Keep aside.
Making Arachuvitta sambar masala
Next, heat sesame oil (not the Asian variety of sesame oil) in a small pan. Keep the heat to a low. Add dried red chilies, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, chana dal and whole black pepper.
Stir and roast the spices on low heat.
When the spices become fragrant, switch off the heat and keep the pan down. Allow the roasted spices to cool down.
Take the roasted spices in a chutney grinder or a wet grinder jar. Add fresh grated coconut.
Grind to a smooth paste with 5 to 6 tablespoons water. Add more water if required while grinding. Keep this ground sambar masala aside.
Preparing arachuvitta sambar
Next, heat sesame oil in a pot or pan. Then, add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
Once the mustard seeds crackle, add dried red chilies and asafoetida. Stir and sauté till the red chilies change color. Don’t burn them.
Now, add curry leaves and drumsticks (chopped), diced ash gourd and diced carrot. If you want to add pearl onions or regular onions or shallots, then sauté them with curry leaves till they turn translucent. Add the mixed vegetables after you sauté the onions. Stir very well.
Add the tamarind pulp and turmeric powder to the vegetables. Stir well. If you don’t want a sour taste in the vegetables, add the tamarind pulp later.
Next, add 1 cup water and salt. While the vegetables are cooking, if the water is less, do add more water.
Cover the pan and simmer on medium to high heat till the vegetables are cooked.
In 20 to 25 minutes, the vegetables will be cooked.
Then, add the mashed dal and the freshly ground sambar masala.
Stir very well. If the Arachuvitta Sambar looks very thick, then add some more water. If thin, then add 1 to 2 tablespoons rice flour to thicken it.
Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes more on medium to high heat.
Serve the Arachuvitta sambar hot with steamed rice, idli, dosa or any South Indian snack. If you prefer, you can also garnish it with some chopped coriander leaves.
- You can also add about 1.75 to 2 cups diced vegetables of your choice.
- Instead of making the tamarind pulp add about 1 to 2 teaspoons of packaged tamarind paste – adjust according to the tanginess you prefer.
- You can use any neutral flavored oil instead of sesame oil. The sesame oil that is used in this recipe is the oil extracted from raw sesame seeds and not toasted sesame seeds. Kindly do not use toasted sesame oil.
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Vitamin A 2848IU57%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 30mg150%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 55mg67%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 5µg5%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 330µg83%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
This Arachuvitta Sambar post from the blog archives first published in May 2015 has been republished and updated on 14 April 2022.