Homemade Sambar Powder

An exotic Indian seasoning…

There are a few lightly fiery seasonings that are musts for authentic Indian cuisine, and sambar powder is among one of the most important. It’s used to make sambar, a delicious lentil-based soup that’s often a precursor (or a side) to the main Indian meal. Sambar powder, too, can be a substitute to rasam powder for making rasam – a thin soup that’s typically served atop rice.

In both cases, it’s the popular Indian kashmiri chili that provides a light simmer of heat. These are mild peppers (1,000 to 2,000 Scoville heat units), but enough are called for in the recipe that you’ll feel the spiciness. 

Sambar Powder

Sambar Powder

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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 16 kashmiri chilies stems removed
  • 1/2 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/3 cup curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons chana dal
  • 1 tablespoon urad dal
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 3/4 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon hing
  • 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon turmeric powder


  • In a pan over medium-low heat, toast the coriander and cumin seeds, stirring often, until the seeds brown slightly (typically 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant). Transfer the seeds from the pan to a large bowl and place to the side. 
  • Place the kashmiri chilies in the same pan over medium-low heat. Stirring often, roast the kashmiri until they start to lightly brown, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the chilies to the same bowl as the coriander and cumin seeds.
  • Place the fenugreek seeds in the same pan over medium-low hear and toast them until they are lightly browned, approximately 1 minute (or until fragrant). Transfer the fenugreek seeds to the same large bowl as the other spices. 
  • Place the black peppercorns in the pan and, stirring often, heat the black peppercorns until fragrant - approximately 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer the black peppercorns to the spice bowl.
  • Place the chana dal into the pan over medium-low heat. Roast the chana dal, stirring often, until lightly browned, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the chana dal into the spice bowl.
  • Place the urad dal into the pan over medium-low heat. Toast the urad dal, stirring often until lightly browned, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the urad dal into the spice bowl. 
  • Place the curry leaves into the pan over medium-low heat. Stir the leaves until they crisp (or if using dried leaves until they become fragrant). Transfer the leaves to the spice bowl.
  • Place the mustard seed into the pan over medium-low heat. Heat the seeds until they pop (approximately 1 to 2 minutes), then transfer them to the spice bowl.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, then add in the hing. Stir until the hing slightly changes color and becomes aromatic. Transfer the hing into the spice bowl. 
  • Add the turmeric to the spice bowl and lightly stir. Allow the spices to fully cool to room temperature before starting the grinding process.
  • Using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind the spice mix into a fine powder. This will likely take a few rounds. Transfer the powder into a bowl then mix all rounds of grinding to fully incorporate all spices.
  • Use immediately or transfer the sambar powder into an airtight container and seal for future use. 
Did you make this?Mention @PepperScale or tag #PepperScale so we can see what you made!

See more of our spicy recipes…

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on January 20, 2021 to include new content.
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I’m allergic to curry so I would like to know to make sambar and varam Masala without curry