Five South Indian sambar variants for you to try this weekend

Sambar. Photo: Shutterstock/Santhosh Varghese

For South Indians, sambar isn't just a dish – it's an emotion. Sambar is deeply intertwined with South Indian culture and heritage. Its familiar aroma, flavours, and textures bring back memories of home-cooked meals, family gatherings, and childhood experiences. Just a spoonful of sambar can transport them to a place of warmth and happiness. Each region in South India has its own unique version of sambar, reflecting the diversity of ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavour profiles. Whether it's the tangy Udupi sambar from Karnataka, the spicy Arachuvitta sambar from Tamil Nadu, or the aromatic Kadamba sambar served at weddings, each variant represents the rich culinary heritage of its respective region.

Delve into the beloved tradition of South Indian cooking this weekend as you explore the vibrant flavours of these five tantalizing sambar variants. Whether paired with rice, idli, dosa, or enjoyed on its own, these sambar recipes promise to elevate your dining experience with every spoonful.

Udupi sambar
Udupi sambar is a traditional South Indian dish originating from the Udupi region of Karnataka, known for its distinctive taste and preparation style. It's a flavourful and aromatic lentil-based vegetable curry that is often served as an accompaniment to rice, idli, dosa, or vada.

Udupi Sambar has a balanced flavour profile with a tangy and slightly sweet undertone from the tamarind and jaggery (optional). The spices add warmth and depth, while the vegetables contribute texture and freshness. It has a thin consistency, similar to a soup, making it perfect for drizzling over rice or soaking with idli or dosa.
Find the recipe here

Arachuvitta sambar
Arachuvitta sambar is a classic Tamil Nadu dish made with lentils and freshly ground spices. In Tamil Nadu, arachuvitta sambar is typically made using a freshly ground spice paste called "arachuvitta masala." "Arachuvitta" literally translates to "ground" in Tamil, indicating the method of preparing the sambar by grinding fresh spices and coconut to create a flavourful masala paste. This spice paste usually consists of ingredients like grated coconut, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, dried red chillies, and lentils, roasted and ground to a smooth paste.
Here is how to make it

Sambar and coconut chutney arranged on black bowls on a wooden background. Photo: iStock/Jelina Preethi

Bombay sambar
Bombay sambar is quite different from the popular version of sambar as dal isn’t added to it.
Instead, chickpea flour is added to thicken the gravy. Bombay sambar tastes amazing with dosa, idli and rice too.
Check out the recipe here

Bombay sambar without dal
Bombay sambar. Photo: Ganga Srikanth

Killi potta sambar
It is a traditional South Indian dish, particularly popular in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It's a variation of the classic sambar, where "killi potta" roughly translates to "tempered with mustard seeds." This technique involves adding a tempering of mustard seeds and other spices to enhance the flavour of the sambar.
Here is how to prepare it

Make this killipotta sambar in just 10 minutes
Killipotta sambar. Photo: Nidhisha Mohan

Kadamba sambar
Kadamba sambar or the Tamil Nadu-style wedding sambar is loaded with flavours. It tastes amazing with idli, dosa and rice too.
Check out the pretty simple recipe

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