There are numerous ready-made spice mixes on the market but they don’t come close to making your own.


I’m lucky enough to have an electric grinder that I use solely for spices. Mine was a gift but there’s a good choice out there that will suit most pockets. 




Otherwise if you have a good heavy pestle and mortar then you can use that. The result won’t be as fine a powder but that’s not a problem.


This is my take on a traditional Sambar Powder based on what spices and dal I had in the cupboard.  The likelihood is that the next time I make it there will be a subtle difference in flavour but that’s part of the fun. For this recipe I’m not going to specify weight just proportion.



1 mug/cup dry Toor Dal (Channa Dal or yellow split peas will be fine)

2 heaped tablespoons coriander seeds

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon turmeric powder

1 dessertspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon dried chillies (more if you like very hot but be careful you don’t overpower the other spices)

5 or 6 black peppercorns

1 teaspoon asafoetida powder

Gently toast all the ingredients in a dry pan, be careful not to have the heat too high as the seeds will burn easily. This takes only a few minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then either whizz up to a fine powder in the grinder or grind in the pestle and mortar. The result will depend on your patience but as long as there are no large pieces it should be fine. When cool the Sambar can be stored in a clean dry jar. I always retain empty screw-top jars as they are handy for storage and for mixing salad dressings.


You can substitute any of the seeds for what you have or what you prefer, you will soon get to know what you like best. This is a great standby for the store cupboard.