Tiffin Sambar – Guest Post for Subhasmita Panigrahi at The Flavours of my Kitchen

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A few weeks back Subhasmita from The Flavours of my Kitchen asked me if I would like to do a guest post for her blog, I instantly agreed to it. Me and Subha got connected over FB over a year ago. I immensely admire her work. My favorite being her amazing bread recipes, as I share the same passion for baking bread, I’m in love with her breads. You should go check out this No Knead Rustic bread without fail. Oh, I can’t stop looking at the bread! It’s outstanding, gorgeous!

When I agreed to do a guest post I knew I will be sharing one of my favorite recipe which is my mom’s signature dish, a family favorite – tiffin sambar. My family, friends love this sambar.

Tiffin Sambar

Our festival days must have this tiffin sambar accompanied with idli and vada for the breakfast. I cant imagine a single diwali when mom did not make this sambar and idli. Special day starts with a most delicious flavor packed shallots sambar to go with ‘the most softest’ idli’s. My mom makes THE BEST idli’s in the whole wide world and we all love our idli’s with mom’s special idli sambar or tiffin sambar.

This sambar is unique! The podi (or powder) to add in making this sambar is the secret behind the bold flavor and taste of this dish.

Tiffin Sambar

The specialty of this sambar(or any Tamil Nadu style sambar) is the delicious, fragrant, flavor packed ‘sambar podi’ and also we use only shallots while making sambar. At home usually tiffin sambar does not hold any vegetables. If you are a spice lover, you can increase the amount of red chili powder and also the measure of ‘sambar podi’. The nutty flavor packed sambar with hot idli, and a dribble of ghee…i call it HEAVEN!

It goes just perfect with dosas, pongal, upma’s too.



1 cup toor dal

6 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup shallots

1 big tomato

2 sprig curry leaves

1 teaspoon red chili powder

½ teaspoon turmeric powder

Salt to taste

3 to 4 tablespoon tiffin sambar powder

2 teaspoon tamarind juice

1 tablespoon oil


For tiffin sambar powder

6 dried red chilies

1 ½ tablespoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

2 tablespoon Bengal gram (channa dal)

2 tablespoon black pepper corns


For tempering

1 teaspoon oil

1 sprig curry leaves

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Generous pinch asafetida

2 dried red chilies

1 teaspoon fine slices onion




Tiffin Sambar


  1. Rinse dal well. Soak dal for about 1 hours, this helps in cooking dal faster. Once soaked, discard the water from the dal and add fresh water. Add cloves, cumin seeds, turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon oil to dal and pressure cook it for 2 whistles.
  2. While dal is cooking, you can make the tiffin sambar powder. In a pan dry roast red chilies, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, Bengal gram, black pepper corns one by one until roasted well and turns fragrant. Let the roasted spice cool down, and then grind into fine powder. You can store this tiffin sambar powder in air tight container for a few months.
  3. In a kadai, heat oil. Once oil turns hot add curry leaves and chopped shallots and sautxe9 till onions turns translucent.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes and cook until tomatoes turns mushy.
  5. Add red chili powder and 3 to 4 tablespoon of tiffin sambar powder and salt to taste, give it a mix.
  6. Add cooked and mashed dal to the kadai and bring it to boil. Check for seasoning and adjust according to your taste.
  7. Add tamarind juice and let it boil for 3 to 4 minutes.
  8. Turn off stove, sambar is ready, we need to add the tempering to the sambar now.
  9. In a small pan, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and let it crackle. Add thin onion slices and sautxe9 till onions turn golden brown. Add curry leaves, dried red chilies and asafetida, mix well. Remove from stove and add this tempering to the sambar. Give it a mix.
  10. Serve tiffin sambar with idli, dosa or even pongal. The best way to serve this sambar is with hot idlis in a bowl, dribble some ghee and pour hot sambar on it. Pure bliss!


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1 Response

  1. October 15, 2017

    […] Tiffin Sambar […]

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