Arachavitta Sambhar

This is a very traditional South Indian recipe. Archavitta literally means with ground spices. This sambhar is different from the usual one we make on a regular basis in that there is no sambhar powder used.

I have wanted to make this for a few weeks now. The last time I tried making it, I found I didn’t have coconut at home and so had to postpone making it. I finally made it with the basic recipe from my bible of tam bram cooking – Cook and See by S. Meenakshi Ammal. I used the recipe from Book 1 of Cook and See and tweaked it a bit using advice given to me by my mother and mother-in-law.

Arachivitta Sambhar


  • ½ cup red gram dal (toor dal)
  • 1 small lime sized ball of tamarind, soaked in water and the pulp squeezed out
  • 1 cup shallots
  • 1-2 carrots, peeled and cut into big pieces
  • ½ a yellow pumpkin, peeled and cut into big cubes
  • 4-5 potatoes, cut into largish cubes
  • 2-3 tsps oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

To be ground into a paste:

  • 6-8 dried red chillies
  • 2 tsps coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp Bengal gram seeds (chana dal)
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 4-5 shallots
  • ½ cup fresh, grated coconut


In a small pressure cooker, pressure cook the toor dal with a pinch of turmeric powder till it is soft and the dal has broken down. This usually will take around 3 whistles in the cooker.

Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan and one by one add the ingredients to be gound into a paste and roast them till the coconut is golden and the water in it evaporates. Transfer to a mixer and when cool, grind it to a fine paste using a bit of water. Keep aside.

In the same pan, heat the remaining oil and add the mustard seeds. When they pop, put in the shallot and stir for a few minutes. Then add the potatoes, carrots and pumpkin and fry for a few minutes.

Now add the gound paste and stir into the vegetables. Once it is all mixed in, pour in the tamarind water and add salt to taste.

Let this boil for around ten minutes. Check to see if the vegetables are cooked. When the vegetables and shallots reached the almost cooked stage, add the cooked dal.

Let it boil well, check for seasoning and switch off the gas. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with white rice.

1 thought on “Arachavitta Sambhar

  1. Pingback: Recipes: Arachavitta Vellai Pooshnikkai Sambar or Ground White Pumpkin Sambar | Memories and Such

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