Non Recipe : Sambhar Varieties

I always get this question from my friends, how do you cook/have sambhar daily? Don’t you get bored? I don’t know how or what to answer for this.  There are different varieties of sambhar. It’s just one generic word used for thick tamarind gravy.

I am trying to find if there is any exact word for Kuzhambu in english. Google translation gave me broth for kuzhambu. But I am not sure if we can say broth. I wish we could have different words in english to explain sambhar and kuzhambu.  The different types of sambhar/Kuzhambu varieties that I regularly prepare in our house are,

    • Araichu Vitta sambhar – This is the typical tambram sambhar.  This sambhar has toor dhal and veggies cooked with freshly prepared sambhar masala with coconut and I do this only during weekends.
    • Kuzhambu – This is typical day-to-day kuzhambu, It has veggies but no coconut and is prepared using dry sambhar powder.
    • Vathal Kuzhambu / Puli (Tamarind) Kuzhambu – This is doesn’t need toor dhal and this can be prepared quickly. Vathal is dried fryums or dried veggies. You can also use veggies. The veggies that are used for vathal kuzhambu are small onions, brinjal, okra.
    • Mor/Buttermilk Kuzhambu – Butter milk sambhar, no dhal but with freshly prepared masala which has coconut in it.
    • Gojju/Gotsu – Same like vathal kuzhambu but with jaggery added and its mostly used as side dish for ven pongal
    • Sambhar for idly/dosa or tiffin sambhar – This can be prepared with toor dhal and moong dhal or moong dhal alone or with masoor dhal also with mixed veggies. Coconut is optional in this sambhar.
    • Milahu Kuzhambu – As name says, pepper plays the major role. No dhals.
    • Theeyal – Kerala delicacy with lots of shallots and coconut
    • Avial – Thick gravy with  lot of veggies cooked with fresh coconut masala
I know there is more to this list. Each and every area has its own special kuzhambu, like Tirunelveli sodhi or Chettinadu Puli Mandi.
Let me know if I have missed anything. :-)

15 thoughts on “Non Recipe : Sambhar Varieties

  1. XYZ

    In Tamil at least, sambhar and kuzhambu are not the same! Kuzhambu includes sambhar, but not vice versa. Cooked dal is always added to sambhar (araichu vitta or not). A better taxonomy is puli itta kuzhambu versus poricha kuzhambu. All puli itta kuzhambus (including sambhar) use tamarind as a base. Poricha kuzhambu uses no tamarind. Masiyal usually has tamarind, but less than in a full fledged kuzhambu. Mor kuzhambu is a separate type of kuzhambu that gets its sourness from yoghurt, though there are versions that use some tamarind too. There are also kuzhambus that use a combination of tamarind and coconut milk, and no cooked dal. The Tamil gotsu is a bit different from the Karnataka gojju, though both do use tamarind. My pet peeve is about vattral kuzhambu- if it uses a vattral (dried vegetable or berry) then it is a vattral kuzhambu; if it does NOT use a vattral but uses a fresh vegetable or is plain, then it is a menthia (methi) kuzhambu, it is wrong to call it a vattral kuzhambu!

    I dont think there is an English word that means the same as kuzhambu- gravy, broth, stew do not fit!

  2. Didn’t realize the idly dosa sambhar differed from one we eat with rice , ya. Moong dal and masoor??Interesting. Can you link to a good recipe for Milahu kuzhambu. Do you use bell peppers?IOr what pepper exactly for this?

Would love hear back from you. Drop in your feedback and comments. Thanks