How To Make Rasam And Sambar Powder At Home

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The arachuvitta sambar with freshly ground ingredients is a great option on a weekend

Highlights

  • Many family-run restaurants in Madurai make most of the masalas in-house
  • Some of the store-bought masalas include artificial flavours and colours.
  • We bring Sambar and Rasam masala recipes to make the dishes flavourful

Madurai holds a special place for all foodies in Tamil Nadu. This is not just the state’s cultural capital with a rich history but a city full of eclectic dining experiences that showcase some of the state’s authentic dishes. Many of the city’s popular restaurants are family owned and operated. Chandran Mess is one such restaurant that I always try to visit when I’m in the temple town. I still remember being invited backstage on my last visit to Chandran Mess. The owner was happy to give me a walk around the restaurant’s kitchen.

Many family-run restaurants in Madurai take great pride in their operations. The kitchen here wasn’t just squeaky clean but was filled with a bouquet of wonderful aromas – they make most of their masalas and flavouring pastes in-house. It’s why the flavours in many such family-owned restaurants are fresh and authentic. Over the years, many households across South India have gradually switched to flavouring their gravies, sambars and poriyals (stir-fried vegetables) with factory-made masalas and powders. While the sheer convenience of these powders makes it almost a ‘no-brainer’, some of these powders are enhanced with artificial flavours and colours.

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My grand aunt in Mumbai, Mrs Kalyani Raghavan is one of the many home cooks I know who still swears by home-made rasam and sambar powders. I watched her make a sambar powder from scratch and it wasn’t just simple but left a wonderful aroma in the kitchen that stayed for a few hours after it was freshly ground. The traditional rasam powder in Tamil Nadu usually combines (see recipe below) coriander seeds, pepper, jeera along with tur dal and chana dal. The sambar powder is enhanced by fenugreek seeds but doesn’t feature jeera. You could make a sambar without sambar powder but it’s a slightly laborious process. The arachuvitta (freshly ground) sambar with freshly ground ingredients like coconut and coriander seeds is a great option on a weekend and is a classic recipe.

You can try making rasam powder at home. The key is the dry roasting process; make sure you don’t over roast the ingredients.

How To Make Rasam Powder | Rasam Powder Recipe:

Ingredients:

Coriander seeds- 4 measures

Pepper- 1 measure

Tur dal -1/2 measure

Chana dal- 1/2 measure

Jeera – 1/4 – 1/2 measure

Method:

Dry roast all these ingredients.

Grind it and add 2 teaspoons of turmeric and half quantity of Chili powder

You can also make a flavourful tomato rasam without rasam powder. This simple recipe gets it’s flavours and aromas from the freshly ground pepper and jeera.

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How To Make Tomato Rasam | Tomato Rasam Recipe:

Ingredients:

Finely chopped ripe tomatoes: 3

Tur Dal: 3 tablespoons

Peppercorns: 3/4 teaspoon

Jeera: 3/4 teaspoon

Asafoetida: 1/2 teaspoon

Turmeric: 1/2 teaspoon

Tamarind: size of a lemon

Ginger (crushed) one-inch piece

Green chilli (Slit): 1 (2 or 3 if you like it spicy)

Curry leaves a few

Ghee: 1 teaspoon

Salt: to taste

Coriander: a few sprigs

Mustard seeds: 1/2 teaspoon

Method:

Pressure cook the tur dal with the turmeric

Extract the juice of the tamarind

Add the tamarind extract, tomatoes, ginger, salt, green chilli, asafoetida to some water and let it simmer for about 10 minutes

Blend the dal after you mash it; make sure no lumps are formed

Let it simmer for a few minutes

Grind the pepper and jeera and add it to the rasam. Let it simmer for a couple of minutes

Temper the mustard seeds and curry leaves with ghee. Turn off the flame and then add coriander and cover the rasam with a lid.

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How To Make Sambar Powder | Sambar Powder Recipe

Ingredients:

Coriander seeds- 4 cups

Chana dal-1cup

Tur dal – 1/2 cup

Pepper- 1/4 cup

Fenugreek (Methi) – 1/4 cup

Method:

Dry roast individually.

Grind finely.

Add 2 teaspoons of turmeric and half quantity of Chili powder

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Make sure you store these powders in an airtight jar. You can store these powders for a month but they lose the aromas and intensity over a period of time. Of course, nothing beats making fresh rasam powder or sambar powder each time you want to make these dishes.

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About Ashwin RajagopalanI am the proverbial slashie – a content architect, writer, speaker and cultural intelligence coach. School lunch boxes are usually the beginning of our culinary discoveries.That curiosity hasn’t waned. It’s only got stronger as I’ve explored culinary cultures, street food and fine dining restaurants across the world. I’ve discovered cultures and destinations through culinary motifs. I am equally passionate about writing on consumer tech and travel.



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