Chettinad style Sambar Masala

Hi, readers welcome to my blog rakshakoppal – let’s make life simple.

Today I will be sharing a recipe for Chettinad style sambar. This is my family favourite. Usually, there aren’t any leftovers when I make this. Let’s see how to make it and what we need to make it.

Chettinad cuisine is usually a crowd favourite as their cuisine is a complex blend of well – balanced flavour. Their cuisine is known for seafood, as the community lived near the sea. They are known for fish curry and kara Kolambu.

The recipe I am sharing here is my interpretation of Chettinad style ground masala for sambar or Kara Kuzhambu.


Tomatoes – 3 medium sized

Onions – 3 medium sized

Garlic – 10 – 15 pods depending on size

Tamarind juice – 2 tablespoon

Jaggery – 1 teaspoon

Sambar powder – 2 tablespoon

Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon

Grated coconut – one cup

Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon

Jeera seeds – 1 teaspoon

Fenugreek seeds – 1 teaspoon

Curry leaves – a handful

Dried red chilly – 4 nos

Astoefida – a pinch

Cilantro leaves – a handful

Oil – for frying.

Note: as Chettinad cuisine is vibrant and flavoursome it requires onions and spices in generous quantity.

Method :

Pre-preparation: Wash, peel and chop the tomatoes, onions and garlic.

Ground paste :

1. Heat oil in a pan, add half the quantity of tomatoes, onions and garlic and fry for two minutes. Ensure that onions or garlic do not burn, as this leads to a bitter taste. Just before turning off the gas add the coconut and fry for a minute.

Let the mixture cool and then transfer this to a blender and grind it into a fine paste. Keep this aside.

2. Add another tablespoon of oil to the same pan, let it heat. Now start adding your spices in order of mustard seeds, jeera, fenugreek, curry, red chilly, asafoetida. Fry for a minute, then add the remaining onions, tomatoes and garlic, fry them until they are cooked, add tamarind juice, salt, jaggery, sambar and turmeric powder, Continuing frying.

3. Once the oil starts to appear on the side add the ground mixture and cook for a couple of minutes before adding water. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Let the sambar masala simmer.

4. Important step: this masala can be used as a base for both veg and for meat. For vegetable fry it while frying the tomato and onions the second time, you can use vegetables like drumstick, brinjal, okra.

5. Garnish the sambar with cilantro leaves and serve it hot with rice and ghee.

19 thoughts on “Chettinad style Sambar Masala”

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