Sambar is a staple of every South Indian household and is a beloved dish in every Sangeetha Restaurant. The dish is popular in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Telangana, and has even become a staple dish in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. The story goes that it was first made in the royal kitchen of Shahaji I in the Thanjavur Palace. It is said that Shahaji wanted to eat amti dal, which is made with kokum and moong dal, and tried his hand at cooking it. Since kokum and moong dal were out of supply, he substituted it with tamarind paste and toor dal. The combination was so delicious that it was served to Sambhaji, second emperor of the Maratha Empire, who was a guest in the palace, and for whom the dish was supposedly named. Though there is debate about whether the story can be considered true or not, it cannot be doubted that sambar is truly delicious.
Interestingly, the taste of sambar differs widely from region to region. The sambar in Tamil Nadu is very different from the sambar in Karnataka. In Tamil Nadu, dry powders are used in the preparation of sambar, while in Karnataka, they use wet pastes and a bit of jaggery, which makes it tastes noticeably sweeter. Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, only local vegetables are used, such as drumstick, radish or brinjal, whereas in Kerala, the more “English” vegetables that boomed in popularity after the British rule such as carrots and potato are used, and they also generally use coconut as well. Different spices and oils are used across regions, which subtle changes the taste and appeals to the palette of the region.
Amazingly, there are over 30 variations of sambar! The most unusual sambar variant is an unusual blend of Maratha and Jain cuisines called “milk sambar,” believed to have originated in the 1930s from the Kolhapuri non-vegetarian dish called tambda rassa, which is quite flavourful and aromatic. The Jains in the region adapted it for the Jain palette, using milk instead of meat stock.
Sambar is made with toor dal, spices such as coriander and cumin, vegetables such as drumstick and onion, tamarind paste, and sambar powder. Many homes prefer to make their own sambar powder, but it’s become more and more convenient to use store-bought sambar powder. Sambar is popularly served with rice, idly, vada, and dosa. It is not only delicious, but also a great source of fiber, loaded with proteins, high in antioxidants, and is perfect for digestion!
A perfect serving of sambar at Sangeetha Veg Restaurant with your rice, idly, vada, or dosa is the best way to start your day! Fill your stomach with flavoursome food when you visit Sangeetha Veg, a multi-cuisine, 100% vegetarian restaurant located across Chennai. Or, you can order online at sangeethavegonline.com for home deliveries across Chennai.