Thursday, February 12, 2009

Annapoorna Sambar

Disclaimer: Annapoorna sambar powder, which is available only in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, is a MUST for this sambar.

There were this really cute couple, Sridevi and Thangavelu, who were from Coimbatore and who lived in my apartment complex. One day, I happened to stop by their house and they offered me some medhu vadas and sambar to go with it. The vadas were awesome and the sambar was just out of the world. I had tasted such sambar only in the hotels of Tamil Nadu. I got really curious to know how Sridevi made that sambar and guess what, the secret ingredient to making that sambar is Annapoorna sambar powder. Since they were from Coimbatore, they had a lot of that sambar powder at home and Sridevi was kind enough to offer a small pack of it for me to try, along with the recipe :-). Now, many of you might think what this hype about "Annapoorna" is and here I am to offer an explanation for the same. Annapoorna restaurant is one of the high-class, vegetarian restaurants that was first started in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. The food there was heavenly and soon the restaurant became a popular chain in Coimbatore, popular to such an extent that on one of our family visits to Coimbatore, my Dad insisted that we eat at Annapoorna. We didn't know about the specialty of that place until that day. So, this sambar that Sridevi made tasted exactly like the sambar that they serve at Annapoorna. After I got that small pack of sambar powder from Sridevi, I was eager to know if it was available in the Indian grocery stores in the US so that I can get more after I had used it all and hence did my own research only to find that they don't have any distributors in Chennai, let alone the US. Since I went on and on about this sambar powder when I talked to my Mom, she had one of her friends from Coimbatore mail her about 1 lb of it and sent it to me :-). And, when my Mom visited me last summer, I made that sambar for her and she took back a sample of that sambar powder with her to India since it is not available in Chennai, where my parents live. Ain't that funny???????????? Anyway, getting back to business, it may not make much sense to listen to me blabber about that sambar but you will definitely understand what I'm talking about once you taste it.

Ingredients (about 2 - 3 servings):

Annapoorna sambar powder - 3 full teaspoons
Tamarind soaked in water - about the size of a 1/2 inch ball
(If using tamarind paste, about 1/4 teaspoon of it)
Toor dhal - 1/4 cup (using a measuring cup)
Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Onion - 1 big finely chopped
Tomato - 1 medium sized finely chopped
Cooking oil - about 2 tablespoons
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Urad dhal - 1 teaspoon
Asafoetida - 1/4 teaspoon
Green chillies - 2 cut into pieces
Dried red chilli - 1 cut into half
Curry leaves - a few
Cilantro (a must) - 3 teaspoons finely chopped


1. Pressure cook toor dhal with turmeric powder and set aside. I normally take dhal and water in the ratio 1:3.
2. Extract about 1.5 cups of tamarind water from the soaked tamarind or dilute the tamarind paste to yield the same amount of water and set aside.
3. In a small, deep vessel, heat some cooking oil, add mustard seeds and wait for the to splutter. After the mustard splutters, add urad dhal, asafoetida, green chillies, dried red chillies and curry leaves and fry until the urad dhal turns light golden brown in color.
4. To step 3, add the onions and fry till they turn golden brown and then add the chopped tomatoes and wait for them to cook well.
5. After the tomatoes get cooked, add the tamarind water, cooked toor dhal and salt and bring the mixture to a boil. Once it starts boiling, add Annapoorna sambar powder and boil for about 10 minutes and turn off the stove.
6. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Yummy Annapoorna sambar is ready to dig in!!!!

It tastes like heaven with Idlis, Dosas, Vadas, Bondas, Upmas and any such tiffin items. I even like it with rice and ghee (clarified butter). Thanks a ton to Sridevi!!!!!


Mahimaa's kitchen said...

wow... u have an amazing collection.... onnu onna try panren :) keep up the good work and pics pota nanna irkum.. it will tempt more people to visit your blog frequently. annapoorna sambar sounds inviting and i wish i had that sambar powder :(

Anu said...

thanks Mahi :) your blog was my inspiration... yes, i agree that posting pics will invite more people, but I don't have the patience to click wonderful pics like you do... I should say that I don't know the art of photography as well as you do :) but will try it sometime though...

Gayathri said...

am really happy to invite you to participate in the contest that is getting launced on Feb 20 2009 - check out this link for details - contest.

Sharmilee! :) said...

Nice post Anu....I am proud to say that my native is CBE and ofcourse know how heavenly is Annapoorna sambar. I wish you could post the secret of annaporna sambar powder recipe. Step in my blog when u find time....

Anu said...

@ Sharmilee: I can only say that you are lucky to have been from CBE :-). Unfortunately, I do not know the secret of Annapoorna sambar powder. Would you happen to know?

Sharmilee! :) said...

No I too dont know...still when we go to CBE we grab few packets of sambar powder and garlic idly podi!