Arachuvitta Sambar

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Sambar with steamed rice is one of the most comforting meals, not just for the people in South India but others too. The whole deal of a hot tangy, spiced stew with lentils and veggies brings instant energy in the human body and gratification to the soul! And this Arachuvitta Sambar recipe is nothing different. It is full of nutrition and vegan too. Read on to learn more about the lovely Arachuvitta Sambar and its recipe.

arachuvitta sambar in a bowl with a spoon kept on a green plate

What is Arachuvitta Sambar

‘Arachuvitta’ literally translates to ‘ground’ in Tamil. Since the spices are first roasted and then freshly ground with coconut for the masala in this sambar. Hence, the name Arachuvitta Sambar.

Arachuvitta Sambar is an extremely popular, almost a specialty dish in Tambram (Tamil Brahmin) homes. I can totally vouch for this because I have experienced the flavor and aroma of the freshly ground spice blend in this sambar. It is simply mind-blowing.

It may seem that there are many steps in the making of the Arachuvitta Sambar recipe. But it is simple and easy to make. You just need to prepare the masala carefully (as it is the ‘star’ in this sambar) and you are good to go.

More on this Arachuvitta Sambar

Yes, I’ll agree to the fact that the Arachuvitta Sambar is one of my favorite South Indian dishes. This version does not have onion, garlic, sambar powder and is also a 100% vegan. There’s absolutely nothing in this Arachuvitta Sambar recipe that you too would dislike. That’s my guarantee!

Other than the robust freshly ground masala, the choice of vegetables that go into this Arachuvitta Sambar is interesting. This recipe has drumsticks, ash gourd and carrots in it. But you can add your favorites too. The more, the merrier.

Personally, I am a fan of veggies and greens. Whenever I’m cooking at home, I love to use vegetables like okra (ladyfinger/bhindi), carrot, radish, capsicum, French beans, white or yellow pumpkin and drumsticks in the Arachuvitta Sambar recipe.  

Pearl onions, sambar onions and tomatoes give it a good taste too. You can add these as well. The color of this Arachuvitta Sambar depends on the type of red chilies you add. I have used Byadagi (bedgi) red chilies which impart an orange hue to the sambar.

Turn this Arachuvitta Sambar into a complete meal full of goodness, by pairing it with steamed rice. Even I feel this is the best way to enjoy it. You can also savor this with Rava Idli, Set Dosa, vadas or uttapams.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to make Arachuvitta Sambar

Prep

1. First rinse ½ cup arhar dal/tur dal (pigeon pea lentils) and add them in a 2 litre pressure cooker.

Next add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder and 2 cups water. Stir well and pressure cook the lentils for 8 to 9 whistles on medium to medium-high heat.

pressure cooking tuvar dal in water with turmeric powder

2. While the lentils are getting pressure cooked, take ½ cup hot water and 1.5 tablespoons tightly packed tamarind in a small bowl. Soak the tamarind in hot water for about 20 to 30 minutes.

soaking tamarind in hot water in a bowl

3. Next, heat 2 teaspoons sesame oil (not the Asian variety of sesame oil) in a small pan. Keep the heat to a low.

Add the following spices:

  • 4 to 5 dried red chilies (broken and seeds removed)
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal (husked and split Bengal gram)
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
adding dried red chilies, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, Bengal gram and whole black pepper in hot sesame oil

4. Stir and roast the spices on low heat.

roasting spices in hot oil

5. Switch off the heat when the spices turn fragrant. Remove the pan from the burner and allow the spices to cool down.

roasted spices for arachuvitta sambar

Cooking Vegetables

6. Next, heat 2 tablespoons sesame oil (gingelly oil) in a pot or pan. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and let them crackle.

crackling mustard seeds in hot sesame oil in pan

7. Once the mustard seeds crackle, add 2 dried red chilies (broken and seeds removed) and a pinch of asafoetida (hing). Stir and fry till the red chilies change color. Don’t burn them.

frying dried red chilies and asafoetida in hot sesame oil in pan

8. Now, add 1 sprig curry leaves (about 12 to 15 curry leaves) and 2 drumsticks (peeled and chopped), 1 cup of diced ash gourd and 1 medium to large carrot (diced).

Note that if you plan to add pearl onions or regular onions, sauté them with curry leaves till they turn translucent.

Add the mixed vegetables after you sauté the onions. You can add about 1.5 cups of mixed vegetables except for drumsticks.

adding curry leaves, drumsticks, ash gourd and carrot in pan

9. Mix very well.

vegetables for arachuvitta sambar

10. By now the tamarind must have got soaked well. Squeeze the pulp from the tamarind in the bowl.

squeezing the pulp from soaked tamarind

11. Add the tamarind pulp and ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder to the vegetables and stir. If you don’t want a sour taste in the vegetables, add the tamarind pulp later.

adding tamarind pulp and turmeric powder to vegetables in pan

12. Next, add 1 cup water.

adding water to the vegetables in pan

13. Add 1 teaspoon salt or as required.

adding salt to the vegetables in pan

14. Cover the pan and simmer on medium to high heat till the vegetables are cooked and tender.

cooking the vegetables for arachuvitta sambar

Making Arachuvitta Sambar

15. While the vegetables are cooking, take the roasted spices in a chutney grinder or a wet grinder jar. Add 4 tablespoons fresh grated coconut. If you do not have grated coconut, add desiccated coconut.

roasted spices with fresh grated coconut in a grinder jar

16. Grind to a smooth paste with 5 to 6 tablespoons water. Add more water if required while grinding. Keep this ground sambar masala aside.

grinding sambar masala with water

17. When the pressure settles down naturally, open the lid of the cooker and mash the dal with a whisk or spoon.

mashed pressure cooked dal

18. The vegetables will be cooked in 20 to 25 minutes. If the water is less while cooking, add some more water.

I added ½ cup water while the vegetables were getting cooked.

cooking vegetables for arachuvitta sambar

19. Next, add the mashed dal and the freshly ground sambar masala.

adding mashed dal and freshly ground sambar masala to vegetables in pan

20. Stir very well. If the sambar is thick, add some more water. If it is thin, add 1 to 2 tablespoons rice flour to thicken it. Check the taste and add more salt if required.

cooking arachuvitta sambar in pan

22. Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes more on medium to high heat.

simmering arachuvitta sambar

23. Serve the Arachuvitta Sambar hot with steamed rice, idli, set dosa or any South Indian snack. If you want, you can garnish it with some chopped coriander leaves.

arachuvitta sambar garnished with coriander leaves and served in a bowl on a green plate

Expert Tips

  1. Feel free to add vegetables of your choice. You can add about 1.75 to 2 cups diced vegetables that you prefer. Make sure not to over cook the vegetables.
  2. You can also make this dish with an equal mix of tur dal and moong dal (yellow moong lentils).
  3. If you don’t wish to have a sour taste in the vegetables, add the tamarind pulp later.
  4. While grinding the roasted spices for the sambar masala, if you don’t have fresh grated coconut, you can also use desiccated coconut.
  5. If you feel the water is less while cooking the vegetables for Arachuvitta Sambar, you can add more water. To adjust the consistency of the sambar, you can add more water if it is thick. In case its thin, you can add about 1 to 2 tablespoons rice flour to thicken it.

FAQs

What is the difference between Arachuvitta Sambar and regular sambar?

The main difference is that spices are first roasted, then freshly ground with coconut and added to the Arachuvitta Sambar whereas the regular sambar is a tangy stew made with lentils, vegetables and tamarind.

Can I use readymade tamarind paste?

Yes, you can. Add about 1 to 2 teaspoons depending on the sourness and thickness of the tamarind paste.

What is the meaning of arachuvitta?

In Tamil language, ‘arachuvitta’ means freshly ground. Since a freshly ground sambar masala is added in this recipe, it is known as Arachuvitta Sambar.

How can I adjust the consistency of the sambar if its too thin?

If the sambar is too thin, add about 1 to 2 tablespoons rice flour to thicken it.

More Sambar Varieties To Try!

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arachuvitta sambar recipe

Arachuvitta Sambar

Arachuvitta Sambar is a delicious variation of sambar made with lentils, vegetables and freshly ground sambar masala prepared from roasted spices and coconut. This is a no onion, no garlic recipe.
5 from 10 votes
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Cuisine South Indian
Course Main Course
Diet Vegan, Vegetarian
Difficulty Level Moderate
Servings 4
Units

Ingredients

For pressure cooking lentils

  • ½ cup pigeon pea lentils (tur dal or arhar dal) – 110 grams
  • 2 cups water – for pressure cooking
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • ½ teaspoon oil – optional

Cooking veggies

  • 2 drumsticks
  • 250 grams ash gourd (white pumpkin) or about 1 cup of diced ash gourd
  • 1 carrot – medium to large
  • 3 to 4 shallots or 1 medium size onion – optional
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (gingelly oil)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1 sprig curry leaves or 12 to 15 curry leaves
  • 1 pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 to 1.5 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (ground turmeric)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

For Arachuvitta sambar masala

  • 4 to 5 dried red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal (husked and split Bengal gram)
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil (gingelly oil)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh grated coconut
  • 5 to 6 tablespoons water – for grinding

For tamarind pulp

  • 1.5 tablespoons tightly packed tamarind – seedless
  • ½ cup hot water

Instructions
 

Pressure cooking lentils

  • First, rinse tuvar dal a few times and add them to a 2 to 3 litre pressure cooker. Also add turmeric powder and 2 cups water. Stir well and pressure cook the lentils for 8 to 9 whistles on medium to medium high heat.
  • When the pressure settles down naturally, open the lid of the cooker and mash the dal with a wired whisk or spoon.

Preparing tamarind pulp

  • While the dal is getting pressure cooked, take ½ cup of hot water and tightly packed tamarind in a small bowl. Soak the tamarind in the hot water for about 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Later, squeeze the pulp from the tamarind in the bowl. Keep aside.

Making Arachuvitta sambar masala

  • Next, heat sesame oil (not the Asian variety of sesame oil) in a small pan. Keep the heat to a low. Add dried red chilies, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, chana dal and whole black pepper.
  • Stir and roast the spices on low heat.
  • When the spices become fragrant, switch off the heat and keep the pan down. Allow the roasted spices to cool down.
  • Take the roasted spices in a chutney grinder or a wet grinder jar. Add fresh grated coconut.
  • Grind to a smooth paste with 5 to 6 tablespoons water. Add more water if required while grinding. Keep this ground sambar masala aside.

Preparing arachuvitta sambar

  • Next, heat sesame oil in a pot or pan. Then, add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
  • Once the mustard seeds crackle, add dried red chilies and asafoetida. Stir and sauté till the red chilies change color. Don't burn them.
  • Now, add curry leaves and drumsticks (chopped), diced ash gourd and diced carrot.
    If you want to add pearl onions or regular onions or shallots, then sauté them with curry leaves till they turn translucent. Add the mixed vegetables after you sauté the onions. Stir very well.
  • Add the tamarind pulp and turmeric powder to the vegetables. Stir well. If you don't want a sour taste in the vegetables, add the tamarind pulp later.
  • Next, add 1 cup water and salt. While the vegetables are cooking, if the water is less, do add more water.
  • Cover the pan and simmer on medium to high heat till the vegetables are cooked.
  • In 20 to 25 minutes, the vegetables will be cooked.
  • Then, add the mashed dal and the freshly ground sambar masala.
  • Stir very well. If the Arachuvitta Sambar looks very thick, then add some more water. If thin, then add 1 to 2 tablespoons rice flour to thicken it.
  • Simmer for 4 to 5 minutes more on medium to high heat.
  • Serve the Arachuvitta sambar hot with steamed rice, idli, dosa or any South Indian snack. If you prefer, you can also garnish it with some chopped coriander leaves.

Notes

  • You can also add about 1.75 to 2 cups diced vegetables of your choice.
  • Instead of making the tamarind pulp add about 1 to 2 teaspoons of packaged tamarind paste – adjust according to the tanginess you prefer.
  • You can use any neutral flavored oil instead of sesame oil. The sesame oil that is used in this recipe is the oil extracted from raw sesame seeds and not toasted sesame seeds. Kindly do not use toasted sesame oil. 

Nutrition Info (Approximate values)

Nutrition Facts
Arachuvitta Sambar
Amount Per Serving
Calories 187 Calories from Fat 108
% Daily Value*
Fat 12g18%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 4g
Sodium 609mg26%
Potassium 300mg9%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 6g7%
Protein 4g8%
Vitamin A 2848IU57%
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 30mg150%
Vitamin B6 1mg50%
Vitamin C 55mg67%
Vitamin E 1mg7%
Vitamin K 5µg5%
Calcium 81mg8%
Vitamin B9 (Folate) 330µg83%
Iron 2mg11%
Magnesium 35mg9%
Phosphorus 82mg8%
Zinc 1mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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This Arachuvitta Sambar post from the blog archives first published in May 2015 has been republished and updated on 14 April 2022.

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Welcome to Dassana's Veg Recipes. I share vegetarian recipes from India & around the World. Having been cooking for decades and with a professional background in cooking & baking, I help you to make your cooking journey easier with my tried and tested recipes showcased with step by step photos & plenty of tips & suggestions.

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30 Comments

  1. Beautiful recipe, thank u..
    Just tried it out and it has come out beautiful..
    Thanks once again5 stars

  2. I had read a very similar version of this recipe called Kootu(think its a dish from Karnataka or Andhra) long back. But very nice presentation and explanation. And it sure looks mouth watering

    1. Arachu means ground (past tense of “to grind”)
      Vitta means poured.
      Adding rice flour to thicken is not a good idea. Better to warn people to be careful while adding water. Also while adding lentils (toor daal) one needs to be careful not to over power the, main taste of the “arachu vitta” spices. Also the final taste come after the first boil of the entire sambhar after adding the toor daal.

      1. Thanks for the info and inputs. A recipe varies from family to family and this is how I make this dish. Rice flour does help in thickening if the gravy becomes thin. Many a times people do not have measuring cups and so the water added can be less or more. So I do mention what to do if this happens if the gravy becomes thick or thin.

  3. If I want to use mixer to grate fresh coconut , should I remove black n brown skin of coconut or use as it is

        1. neha, the skin but not the outer shell. when i scrape coconut i also scrape the brown part. you can use dessicated coconut also.

  4. its very useful site.cooking is my passion.want to know about recipes of all states.this is going to be a great help.

  5. Ummm sounds delicious. One question am a south Indian and hav never seen any sambar without hing. Was it left out purposely.

    1. thanks swetha. hing is added in the recipe. its there in the recipe post.

  6. Ur sambar recepies is very easy nd testy and ur method step by step is simple.so very thanks

  7. Hello! This recipe looks really delicious.
    I’m Italian and don’t know the spices you name, but I guess if I go to some asian shop they must know…
    Most grateful,
    Sabrina.

    1. thanks sabrina. yes you should be able to get these spices in the shop selling asian or indian stuff.

  8. Nice and yummy recipe with drumsticks, dal and pumpkin.. Looks absolutely delicious5 stars

  9. Looks Yummy and mouthwatering love south indian recipe specially sambhar..5 stars

  10. Thnx for the recipe,if I want to use tamarind paste then what will be the quantity

    1. welcome neha. add from 1 to 2 tsp depending upon the thickness and sourness in the tamarind paste.