Sambar powder is the most important spice powder in a tamil kitchen. It is usually ground in flour mill and stored in large jars to use for the whole year. When summer arrives, every woman starts the process of preparing spice powders and vadagam for the year. My mom used to become very busy during summer. And I think the tradition has come to me also. Nowadays, many ladies buy spice powders from stores and the tradition is forgotten in many house holds.
I started preparing spice powders last year and it is very interesting. Though it is an extra work load, the final product is very tasty when the powders are home made. This is my mom's recipe. There are so many variations of sambar powder. Usually dhals are used along with spices. But mom doesn't add dhals to the powder. So this powder is an all-in-one powder in our house. This can also be used for gravies as kulambu podi. The aroma of fresh sambar powder is very nice. It brings back memories of me doing these works with mom before my marriage.
This is the quantity for a family of 6. I prepare half of this for our family of 3. On a clean cloth, spread all the ingredients separately and place it in a place where you get direct sunlight for the whole day. As this is done during the summer, one day is enough for the red chilly to become crisp. Take a chilly and try breaking. It should break at one go with out bending. You need not remove the stalks of the chilly as this is ground in a mill. Transfer all the ingredients to a box large enough to hold everything together. With a pestle, crush the red chillies to make space.
Take it to the flour mill and grind it to a fine powder. The powder becomes very hot while grinding, so at the mill, they usually spread it in a large tray and allow the powder to cool for 15minutes before bringing home. Once you are home, spread news papers and spread the powder on it. Cover your face with cloth to avoid burning sensation. Once the powder is cool, sift it to get rid of any large particles. Store in a plastic jar and transfer a small amount to a small jar for daily use. This way the aroma is sealed in the powder. Enjoy the taste of home made sambar powder.