hotel style sambar

It is a matter of pride to us when the sambar or rasam served to our family meets with complete approval! especially to us Tamilians  the sambar must meet  the standards. Its like the yard stick to measure our  cullinary skills! While we do have a large variety of sambar and kozhambu varieties, none is comparable to the ultimate tiffin sambar or hotel sambar a term coined by hotel goers as they expect the same taste of hotel sambar in our house too, So we strive hard to get it right yet  something seems to be missing .

This is an attempt to create that taste after chatting with popular chefs in weddings or small functions where a similar sambar is served for tiffin .

A food blogger simply cannot pass up the chance to enquire more or even possibly sneak into the chefs kitchen to try and wangle out a few secrets in a round about way ! Some are very forthcoming and will rattle off the recipe in a nonchalant manner while I strive to store in my head .

Lets see if the sambar  meets with your expectations too...meanwhile am not saying this is the perfect recipe but it rates very high and I will continue to work on this recipe till I get a full 10 !.

Prep time
10 minutes
Cook Time
20 minutes
8 cups
Recipe Type
South Indian /Side dish


To roast and dry grind separately

2 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2  tsp methi seeds
1 tsp chana dal 
2 tbsp gram dal( puttani ) need to roast 
1 tomato chopped (  to be added while grinding not roasted.)
1 green chilli
1 tsp rice to be roasted with roasting ingredients.
pinch of hing/asafoetida
1 dry red chilli and 2 tsp of home made sambar powder
3 tbsp of fresh grated coconut  or dry grated coconut.
Coconut is optional but tastes great when added .
As we are adding dry red chillies while tempering and  again for grinding the paste besides adding sambar powder, you can decide on the no.of dry chillies you want to add.

Tip:  If you wish you can add  small sliced shallots about 4 samll ones,  too to the above while grinding , am told it gives most amazing flavor too.


  • First  take a spoon of oil or two in a pan and dry roast all the  dry ingredients given under to roast and dry grind heading till a fine aroma wafts
  • When cooled ,grind in a mixie with little water to get a paste. Keep aside
  • In a pan put some oil and let the mustard pop,add the methi seeds,dry red chillies and add the small onions and  stir them till the onions turn pink.When they are translucent ,add the chopped tomatoes and then add the tamrind water previously extracted from the ball of tamrind.
  • Add the sambar powder given in ingredients list,salt,hing,curry leaves and let boil for sometime til the onions and tomatoes are cooked well and a sambar aroma starts to waft, the mixture will thicken.
  • Take the cooked moong dal.mash well and add the ground paste also to the boiling sambar.The whole mixture will thicken .You need to add little water to prevent from too much thickening.
  • Let the sambar  boil on a low simmer for sometime as the raw smell of the ground paste has to go away.
  • After adding the mashed dal and the ground paste you will notice the sambar colour texture changing to a typical hotel style and also the aroma further enhanced as the ingredients in the ground paste blend well with the dal and veggies.
  • Remove from stove and garnish with coriander leaves.
  • No need for tadka / tempering  as it has been tempered previously.
  • Some add a bit of jaggery to give a hint of sweetness to sambar but I avoid this.Instead you can add some yellow pumpkin pieces along with tomatoes and onions to get the sweetish taste.
  • Some recipes have other vegetables too but  tiffin sambar tastes good with only onions and tomatoes.
  • Do not overdo the sambar by adding too many vegetables.If you ave noticed the hotel sambar has few vegetables but more gravy.
This sambar is somewhat similar to the aachavitta sambar, sambar made using roasted ground condiments with onions and tomatoes.or other vegetables.