Tiffin sambar
Tiffin sambar!? I know, right! What is Tiffin sambar? Back home, in restaurants, the sambar served for tiffin items (like idli, dosa etc or to keep it simple, anything that is not rice :)) has a different consistency and taste than that is served with rice during lunches (unless the people in that restaurant is really lazy and serve the same for both tiffin and rice ;)). This variety that is served with tiffin is called as the Tiffin sambar (‘Tiffin saptaacha’ – Had your tiffin?, Tiffin saapidalama – Shall we have tiffin?, are common talk in my native, referring to either breakfast or dinner)
Tiffin Sambar
There are many different varieties of sambar like, Murungai sambar, Kathirikka sambar, Araithuvitta sambar etc and Tiffin sambar is one among them. One advantage with sambar varieties in general is that you can add any vegetable that you want to to the recipe. And in Tiffin sambar, potatoes or drumsticks are added. In my home, my mom usually prepares it for breakfast and calls it as avasara (quick) sambar since it can be prepared in a short while. I still remember my mom stacking up thin dosas with tiffin sambar poured in between for my lunch while in school. It was very popular among my friends.
Tiffin Sambar
Tiffin sambar is one of the recent recipes that I have started to cook and is fast getting to be an ‘often cooked’ recipe. Dosa with Tiffin sambar or Idlis soaked in Tiffin sambar, also called as Sambar idli are some of the dishes that you must have from Tamilian cuisine. So is it going to be Tiffin sambar for breakfast tomorrow in your home? What say? 🙂

Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • Toor dal – ¼ cup
  • Vegetable (potato,drumstick,carrot) - 1 no
  • Shallots – 10 nos
  • Green chilli – 2 nos
  • Tomato – 1 no
  • Tamarind – small gooseberry size
  • Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
  • Jaggery – a small piece
  • Asafoetida – a generous pinch
  • Curry leaves – few
  • Cilantro – for garnishing
  • Ghee – 1 tsp
  • Salt as required
To roast and grind:
  • Channa dal – 1 tbsp
  • Coriander seeds – ¾ tbsp
  • Red chillies – 3 nos
  • Fenugreek seeds – ½ tsp
  • Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
To temper:
  • Oil – 2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
  • Jeera – 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves – a sprig
  1. Soak tamarind in water for half an hour and extract the juice. Add two cups of water to it and keep it aside.
  2. Soak toor dal for an hour. Wash the potato or drumstick and cut to desired pieces. Pressure cook the dal with a cup of water, turmeric powder, asaofetida, few drops of sesame oil and potato or drumstick for 4 whistles. When done, allow it to cool, peel off the skin and set aside. Mash the dal with the help of a ladle and set aside.
  3. Now heat a kadai or a pan with few drops of oil and roast the ingredients altogether given above, stirring constantly. When they turn light brown, add cumin seeds at last and give it a stir. Do not over roast it. Let it cool and blend to a powder.
  4. Heat oil in a sauce pan and temper the above ingredients. Add a pinch of asaofetida snd shallots. Sauté until the onion turns translucent. Add green chillies and tomato and sauté for a couple of minutes.
  5. Add the tamarind juice and bring it to boil. Add few curry leaves, cilantro, salt, turmeric powder and asafoetida. Again bring it to boil.
  6. Add the potato and cook for another couple of minutes.
  7. Sprinkle the sambar powder on top stirring constantly – Do not add sambar powder as a whole as it might form lumps.
  8. Add the cooked dal and stir well. Now you can add water according to your desired consistency. Add jaggery and garnish with curry leaves and cilantro. Switch off the flame. Enjoy it with hot idlis, dosas and ven pongal! 

Tiffin Sambar

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