Recipes: Arachavitta Vellai Pooshnikkai Sambar or Ground White Pumpkin Sambar

This recipe initially started its life as an experiment, but it was quite successful and the resulting sambar was so tasty, I was pleasantly surprised. While any arachavitta or ground sambar is yummy, the addition of the white pumpkin or Winter Melon or Ash Gourd as its called in English and Vellai Pooshnikkai in Tamil elevated this recipe. This recipe is perfect for the days you can’t use onions in your recipe. I have blogged about both Arachivitta Sambar and White Pumpkin Rasavangi and this is a lovely marriage between the two. So let’s go to the recipe.

Arachavitta Vellai Pooshnikkai Sambar or Ground White Pumpkin/Ash Groud/Winter Melon Sambar


  • 2 cups white pumpkin, peeled, the seeds removed and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 lemon sized piece of tamarind, soaked in hot water for 30-40 minutes
  • 1 cup toor dal
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 2 tbsps coriander seeds
  • 6-8 dried red chillies
  • ¼ cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1 tbsp sambar powder (optional)
  • 1-2 tbsp jaggery (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves to garnish


  • In a small pressure cooker, pressure cook the toor dal with ¼ tsp turmeric powder till it is soft and the dal has broken down complety. This usually will take around 3 whistles in the cooker. When the pressure reduces, open the cover of the cooker and then whisk the dal well. Keep aside.
  • Mash the tamarind when it becomes cool to touch and then squeeze tamarind and drain the water so the fibres get separated and you have the water. Alternatively use 3-4 tbsp tamarind paste which you can get at any Indian store.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a small pan and put the chana dal, coriander seeds and dried red chillies and stir a while till the chana dal starts to brown. At this point add the fresh grated coconut and constantly stir until all the water from the coconut dries up and you have a crisp brown coconut with no water whatsoever. Note that if there is any water left in this, your sambar may spoil later in the day.
  • Once this coconut mixture is cool, grind it to a fine paste using some water in a blender. Make sure the paste is as fine as you can make it.
  • In a large pan, heat the balance 1 tbsp oil and when the oil is warm, add the mustard seeds and when the seeds pop, add the chopped white pumpkin and cook the cubes for about 5 minutes.
  • Then add the tamarind water which has been thinned to suit your taste and add salt to taste. You can also add sambar powder at this point if you want. Also add the jaggery if you are using here.
  • Let the white pumpkin cook until it is cooked, but still has a bite to it.
  • At this point, add the ground paste and the cooked dal and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  • Check for seasoning at this point before switching off the gas.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with plain rice, white or brown and a curry of your choice.
  • This is also very tasty with any South Indian food like Upma, Idli or Dosai.

2 thoughts on “Recipes: Arachavitta Vellai Pooshnikkai Sambar or Ground White Pumpkin Sambar

    • As I wrote in the post, I was experimenting and decided to marry two separate recipes. It turned out very good! This type of sambhar is a typical tambram recipe, so may not be available outside of homes

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