Monday, January 04, 2021

Sambaar Kaaram

Yesterday, I had a big thrill from the blog. I checked it for comments after a long time. There was a comment from someone who said she had been using my recipe of sambaaru kaaramu to make her pappucharu taste extra special but could not access the link When My Soup Came Alive: Value-Added Mix to it. Funnily enough, I've had the same problem a couple of times in the recent past but it's not broken most of the time. I decided to put it up again here with a direct headline that is easily found rather than an indirect, pun-filled one that gets lost in the ether!

It's been nearly fourteen years since I put up that recipe. I've looked high and low for information related to it but have only come up with scraps. Beyond the fact that the word sambaaru/sambaaram/sambhaaram stands for spices used to flavour food (or "provisions, preparations, collection, supplies, constituents, ingredients and requisites") and that it can be used for a range of dishes from stir-fries to dals, I know little about it. The link above leads to a discussion on the lore surrounding sambar! My grandmother would say that this sambaaru kaaram and that sambar are different, which is true, in my experience. Sambar powder contains so many more ingredients ... even if the etymology is the same. From what I have observed and read, it's used mostly in farming families of Guntur and Krishna districts of Andhra Pradesh. 

We used to eat it with steaming, ghee-smeared idlis as children, dipping the idli in a spoon of the kaaram served to a side on our plates. When she was alone at home, it was her dinner for the day, my mother says, with rice and ghee, like any other podi or kaaram that we make. Here's the recipe, provided by my grandmother's sister:

(I read somewhere recently that pure castor oil is added to this mixture.)

Dry red chillies: 500 gm (remove the stalks)
Coriander seeds: 250 gm
Fenugreek/Methi seeds: 50 gm
Cumin/jeera seeds: 50 gm
Black gram/urad dal: A little less than 50 gm
Salt, to taste
Garlic: to taste

Dry roast the first five ingredients separately.

Let cool, whiz to a powder in the grinder.

Add salt.

Crush garlic roughly, add to the powder and mix it with the kaaram.

Store in an airtight container.