South Indian Iyengar Sambar – Rasam Items

How to prepare Iyengar Rasam Powder

TRS Iyengar


Bengal Gram 100 gms
Tur Gram 100 gms
Fenugreek 50 gms 
Jeera 50 gms 
Black pepper .50 gms 
Dhania 150 gms 
Red chillies 150 gms
Mustard 20 gms 
Turmeric 50 gms
Cooking oil 2 Tablespoon

(Salt to tase is to be added only while preparing the Rasam)


In the frying pan, first dry roast, Fenugreek, Jeera and Mustard. Roast till Fenugreek 
becomes brown and mustard starts popping. Remove from heating and let it cool. 

Now add oil in the pan first, put Black pepper. Once black pepper starts bursting, 
add chillies and Dhania and Turmeric roots made into small pieces. toast and turn till it equally fried.

When chillies assume a fine shine on the surface, immediately add curry leaves. 
Turn three four times and remove it from the pan and immediately spread on a paper sheet or cloth. 
Once the mixture becomes cold, add Hing (Asafoetida) and put into the mixie for grinding it to powder. Keep it in a air-
tight jar or bottle. Shelf life is for 45 days maximum.

The above is just a ready-made Rasam Powder that can be used for 20 days to one month for a family of four. One heap 
teaspoon is sufficient to make Rasam for 4 of a family. You can add according to your needs.

Note: Keep the heat to sim or minimum to avoid the ingredients getting blackened. Attend to it and toast/mix contineously.

Now – to prepare the Rasam with above ready-made powder, please use the following method:

Take either two tomattoes or 20 gms of Tamarind, put it into to 300 ml of water and boil it. Once in the boiling stage, mix the 
Ready-made Iyengar Rasam Powder. Add a drop or two Asafeotida liquid or if it is powder, the add only one pint of it. Add salt
to tase (only when the salt is added to required proposition, you’ll get the fine aroma.) Allow it to boil till you get a fine aroma 
of Rasam. Put one spring leaves of Curry leaves, Currinder Leaves of two or three plucks,

Take it out of stove, now take a teaspoon of Gingili Oil, boil it, add the mustard seeds in the oil, let it pop-up and settle; then add
this oil into the prepared Rasam and cover it with a plate. 

Iyengar’s Sambar Powder – Other method for Larger usage or longer storage.

Tur Dal – 1/2 Kg.

Bengal Gram – 250 gms

Red Chillies – 1/2 Kg

Dhaniya – 1/2 Kg.

Turmeric Roots – 10 pcs

You can get the above mixed and ground at any flour mill. Do not powder it too nice but a little more crushed would suffice. Leave this for a while in the open and then put it in bottle/tin and keep the lid tightly closed. This Sambar powder can be used for a time over 45 days to two months for a family of 4 members, if used daily. For larger gatherings and get together preparations, this would be handy to use. While preparing the sambar, please add salt to tase and Asafeodita (Hing known in Tamil as perungayam).. Add cut egetables in little quantities while boiling the Sambar proposition. This simply superb Sambar is very tasty with fine odour for your taste.

Paruppu Kozhambu (Sambar)

 What is sambar?

  Sambar is a thick liquid item, which optionally has little amount of cut vegetables added to is. Sambar can   be used as side dish for mixed rice like curd rice 
  or even for tiffin items like Chappathi, bread etc. 
(Recipe Courtesy: Mrs. Santha Sriraghavan)
Preparatory Step: (for serving 2 persons)
Keep toor dhal (Bengal gram) with little turmeric powder mixed, in cooker. Once it gets cooked, add 2 or 3 ladles of the cooked toor dhal to the boiling sambar during step 7.

  1. Soak tamarind (of the size of a lemon)
  2. If you want to add any vegetables, cut them & keep them ready.
  3. In frying pan, pour cooking oil (quantity:little).
  4. Put mustard, 1/2 spoon fenugreek, asafoetida (little), cut vegetables (if vegetable is the 'thaan'), karivepilai (curry leaves), turmeric powder, chilly
     powder & sambar powder (see preparatory steps for sambar powder below). Fry for sometime.
  5. Soak tamarind in water in a bowl & drain the water ('puli jalam') into a vessel.
  6. Add salt & fried mixture (from step4) into puli jalam (Tamarind juice).
  7. Boil the liquid of step 6.
  8. After 5 to 7 mins of boiling, pour a mixture of flour (any flour like rice flour,  wheat flour, etc) + water into the boiling sambar.
 9. boil for 2 mins & there, your paruppu sambar is ready to eat! enjoy!

Preparatory steps for Sambar powder:
 If sambar powder isn't readily available from shop, the following preparation is to  be made:
 a. Take the following:
     coriander powder (3 spoons)
     channa dhal (1 & 1/2 teaspoon)
     dry red chillies (5 nos.)
    fenugreek (1/4 spoon)
 b. Pour oil in frying pan & heat it. Put the above ingredients in pan & fry it till they turn brown.
 c. Grind them in mixer. Add coconut pieces if available & grind that too.
 d. The above preparation is to be added instead of sambar powder.

How to prepare Iyengar Vathal Kuzhambu / Vatha Kuzhambu:

By TRS Iyengar

Ingredients: (Choose only any one from the list : Manathakkali vattal, Sundaikkai, or fried Pakarkai – Karela)

Dry Manathakkali Vathal – 1 fistful
Tamarind lemon sized ball
Turmeric powder 1/2 spoon
Chili powder 1 spoon
Jaggery about 25 gms
Rice flour 1-2 spoons(its only to make the item into thicken)
Sesame (gingily) oil 1/2 cup.

For Seasoning:

Mustard seeds 4 Spoons
Curry leaves 1 large bowlful
Asafoetida 2 spoons
Chana dal 1 cup (Equal to one table spoon)
Urad dal 1 Half Table spoon
Dry red chilies 6 numbers
Peppercorns 4
Fenugreek 1/4 spoon
Sesame oil few spoons.

To Be Fried Each Separately in Little Oil and Wet-Ground Togather to Thick Paste:(Vatha Kuzhambu masala):

Coriander seeds 2 spoons
Chana dal 1 spoon
Curry leaves 1 twig
Fenugreek seeds 1 spoon
Dry red chilies 6
Asafoetida 1/2 spoon
Sesmae oil few spoons.
Wet Grind to thick batter like consistency and set aside!


Fry the ‘vatha kuzhambu masala’ as listed above ingredients first. Each seperately in little oil, till they turn to golden to reddish color. Infact very aromatic! Then wet-grind them togather, using very limited water. Set this masala aside.

In a non-reactive bowl, soak tamarind with 1-2 cups of luke warm water for 1-2 hours. In a blender, run this along with the same soaked water and extract a thick tamarind milk. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed non-stick pan,add few spoons of oil. Fry the dry vathal (either one ‘manathakkali/ sundaikkai). Fry them till they turn to dark brown to black, Set aside.

In a the same pan, heat remaining oil. Now add thick tamarind milk, salt, turmeric powder, jaggery, rice flour and chili powder. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 12-15 minutes.

When the tamarind’s raw odour leaves the pan and it starts to consolidate; add ‘vatha kuzhambu masala’ and ‘fried vathal’! Bring this to boil. Again switch to medium heat and cook without lid. Maybe till the raw odour of wet-ground paste is gone. The gravy should really thicken now. Wait till oil shows up on sides and top. Then remove from heat.

In a seperate pan, heat oil, add the tempering spices one by one and wait till they pop. Now run this seasoning over the gravy made above. Always season your gravy at last, like a final touch…it makes it really aromatic!!!

Now Iyengar speciality Vathal kuzhambu is read to serve warm with plain steamed rice. A spoon full of gingili oil would go with it. Enjoy the ” Iyengar Vathal Kuzhambu” a speciality of Srivaishnavas!

TRS Iyengar

Born on Makara Uthiradam star, native of Mukkur and brought up in Ladavaram village near Arcot and now well settled in Mumbai for over five decades. Presently, at 70, trying to run this website without any commercial expectations or profit motive, just for the sake of our future generations to understand about Sanatana Dharma & Srivaishnavam sampradayam.Within my limited knowledge that I put it here, what I learnt from the world.

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