Palakkad style Sambar(with coconut)

To some of you, it might sound little weird. Never heard of Sambar with coconut right? Well, that is the way we prepare sambar in our home town. Although I might have eaten this kind of sambar, almost all my life, I hadn’t realized the fact that mom prepares sambar in a different way than others until 3 years back. All credit to my total ignorance to cooking and the ingredients that make a delicious dish πŸ˜‰

One day, I saw that mom was making some masala for Sambar and it had coconut. That is when I realized that she doesn’t use store bought sambar powder. Then that day, I felt a major difference in the taste too πŸ˜€ I immediately jotted down the ingredients that go in to make the masala from her. But I didn’t try it until Onam (A festival celebrated by people of Kerala) of 2011. Ever since, when I invite someone at home and I plan to make a Kerala meal, my Palakkadan Sambar holds an undisputed place in the menu. There is a reason for it too. So far, if there is one dish of mine, that every single person who has had it, has acknowledged me to be an expert of, that would be my Sambar, hands down πŸ™‚ So here goes the recipe for the yummy Palakkad Sambar.


Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Toor dal(yellow dal) – 1 cup
Grated coconut – heaped 1/2 cup
Shallots – 5 or 6 nos
Fenugreek seeds – 8-10 nos(little less than 1/4 tsp)
Asafoetida – 1/2 inch piece or 1/2 tsp
Tamarind – 2 inch piece
(If you are using tamarind extract – 1/2 tsp)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1.5 tsp
Coriander powder – 3 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – 2 strands
Coriander leaves – 3 strands
Dry red chilli – 2 nos
Oil – 1 tbsp
Cut mixed vegetables(Carrots, Drumstick, Okra, Brinjal, Beans, Potato, Raw banana etc are the vegetables you could use) – roughly 1.25 cups
Tomato – 1 nos
Salt – to taste (apprx. 3/4 tsp)


1. Soak toor dal in water for sometime, say 30 mins. Boil it in cooker and give 3 whistles. Keep aside for using later. Mash the cooked dal to form a thick smooth paste.
(For those who do not know how much quantity of water to use to boil the dal, use 1:1.5 ration of dal vs water)
2. Soak the tamarind in warm water. Keep aside for use later.
3. In a pan, heat 1 tsp oil. Keep medium heat and add the fenugreek seeds and asafoetida and let it fry well. Asafoetida will become white/grey in color once it fries. If you are using asafoetida powder, it should become light brown.
4. Add coconut and shallots to the pan. Keep stirring it occasionally as you fry these. Fry till coconut becomes light brown and shallots loose its crunchiness.
5. To this add coriander powder and 1 tsp red chilli powder. Fry for few seconds till a nice aroma of the fried masala is released. Frying it for longer will burn the red chilli powder.
6. Now once this mixture cools down, grind it to a fine thick paste using water as required.
7. In a sauce pan or a steel vessel, boil 4 cups of water. Put the vegetables, remaining(1/2 tsp) of red chilli powder, turmeric powder and 1 strand of curry leaves to the boiled water and let it cook.
Note: Put vegetables that need more time to boil first(like drumstick, yam or carrot; followed by the ones that need lesser time when compared(like brinjal, okra etc)
8. Once the vegetables are half done, add sliced tomatoes and let it boil.
9. Once the vegetables are cooked, add the tamarind extract to it.
10. Once it boils well, add the boiled toor dal and mix well. Let it boil well too.
11. Now add the ground coconut masala and salt. Mix well and let it boil for sometime. You can add water to bring the gravy to the consistency you prefer.
12. Once it boils, keep aside and prepare the tempering.
13. In a pan, heat the remaining oil. Add mustard seeds, let it splutter. Then add broken red chillies and curry leaves to it. Switch off the stove and add this tempering to the sambar.
14. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and delicious palakkad sambar is ready.

Serve with rice or idli or dosa.


11 thoughts on “Palakkad style Sambar(with coconut)

  1. I used to hate the sambar made by mom.. but once i got to taste the sambar made by mom in law , i was hooked.. she makes it the same way except for the shallots which she doesnt use. Great recipe!!!

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