Kadamba Sambar

Kadamba sambar is a traditional flavorful curry prepared with assorted (kadambam) vegetables & tubers. Kadamba sambar is popularly known as idi sambar (meaning pounded sambar) in Tirunelveli & Kanyakumari regions, as the spice powder was earlier prepared by pounding in a large stone mortar (ural) using a 3-feet long metal-tipped wooden pestle (ulakkai).


We prepare this delectable flavorful sambar on the day of Pongal, a harvest festival celebrated in Tamilnadu in the mid January. Next day the left-over kadamba sambar is made into pazhang-curry (or sunda curry) and served with spongy dosa for breakfast and also with hot rice (drizzled with sesame oil/ virgin coconut oil/ ghee) or curd rice for lunch.

I like to prepare kadamba sambar not only on the Pongal day but also for any festival/ special occasion at home. I usually prepare this sambar & avial in large quantity so that I can make delicious sunda curry next day as shown below:

Now the recipe for the Tirunelveli-style kadamba sambar that makes every festival/ feast so special:


Time Taken: 40 min

Yields: 1¾ Litre (1750 ml)


  1. Red gram (thuvaram paruppu/ toor dal) – ¾ cup
  2. Tamarind – a lemon-sized ball
  3. Vegetables of your choice
  4. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  5. Salt – 1½ tsp

For grinding (sambar powder):

  1. Red chillies – 12 Nos.
  2. Coriander seeds – 1/8 cup (25 g)
  3. Bengal gram (kadalai paruppu) – ½ tbsp
  4. Red gram (thuvaram paruppu) – ½ tbsp
  5. Fenugreek seeds (vendhayam) – ¼ tsp
  6. Asafoetida block (perungaya katti) – a small piece (or hing powder – ¼ tsp)
  7. Oil for frying asafoetida block – ¼ tsp

For grinding (coconut paste):

  1. Coconut pieces – 5 (each 1 inch)
  2. Shallots – 5 Nos
  3. Cumin seeds (jeeragam) – ¼ tsp

Mise en place:

Cooking lentils:

  • Wash red gram, transfer to a cooking vessel and add turmeric powder (½ tsp) and water (1½ cup).
  • Pressure cook lentils (simmer for 10 min after bringing to high pressure), mash well and keep aside.

Sambar powder making:

  • Heat a pan with oil in low flame.
  • Roast asafoetida block and remove from pan.
  • In the same pan add Bengal gram & red gram and roast them until golden.
  • Add coriander seeds and roast until the aroma is released.
  • Add fenugreek seeds & red chillies and roast them for few seconds (until warm).
  • Remove from heat.
  • Grind into a powder when they reach room temperature and keep sambar powder aside.

Preparing coconut paste:

  • Grind coconut, shallots & cumin into a paste and keep aside.

Sambar making procedure :

  • Wash vegetables and cut them into chunks as shown below.
  • Soak brinjal in water to prevent blackening and keep aside.
  • Soak tamarind in hot water and extract its juice using one litre of water.
  • Heat a cooking pan in high flame after pouring tamarind extract into it.
  • Add chopped vegetables & turmeric powder (½ tsp) and bring it to a boil.
  • Reduce the flame to medium.
  • When the vegetables are half cooked add brinjal.
  • Add salt (¾ tsp) and cook all the vegetables until soft.
  • Add sambar powder,  pour water (250 ml) and bring it to a boil.
  • Add mashed lentils followed by coconut paste.
  • Combine together and bring it to a final boil.
  • Remove from heat and garnish with tempering.
  • Serve hot kadamba sambar with rice.

Please Note:

  • If you are not using raw mango you may have to increase tamarind accordingly.
  • Roast the ingredients for sambar powder in low flame to prevent them getting burnt.
  • If you are using asafoetida powder sprinkle over the sambar just before the final boil.
  • You can choose as many vegetables as you want in the photo below for making kadamba sambar.
kadamba sambar veg

97 Comments Add yours

  1. gohealthy says:

    Looks delicious!

    1. Megala says:


  2. My Real Dish says:

    This dish is calling my name! Looks so delicious and is a different twist on lentils!

    1. Megala says:

      Yes, it is my real dish !! 🙂

  3. I love tamarind and okra/ladies’fingers. And I’d love to be able to cook like you!

    1. Megala says:

      Thanks for your kind appreciation ! 🙂

  4. InspiresN says:

    It looks so delicious and must taste even better !! love this sambar

    1. Megala says:

      Yes, it is ! Thank you !!

  5. ponnykarthyka says:

    now only i saw the kadambar sambar very nice and cute presentation kallakkummaaaaaa

    1. Megala says:

      Ahh! Thanks so much !!

  6. An absolutely novel (at least, for me) way of preparing sambar. A must try!

    1. Megala says:

      It may sound like that, but it is as easy as making any Indian curry ! But I must warn you that you may get addicted to this delicious curry, if you try it once !! 🙂

  7. Although this recipe looks like a lot of work, it seems like it would be well worth the effort. Definitely a labor of love!

    1. Megala says:

      Yes, thanks ! 🙂

Please share your thoughts here: