Onam 2022: Kerala Style Varutharacha Sambar
Image Credit: Varutharacha sambar, Image Credit: whiskaffair.com

A delectable Keralan-style sambar is Varutharacha. Its essence lies in the secret ingredient, i.e., handmade sambar powder made from roasted coconut. This one element enhances Varutharachar's signature flavour and authenticity. Further, when it blends with the aromas from the ground spices, tamarind water and cooked lentils, the final outcome is an exotic sambar, perfect for any festive meal. Sans the piping hot, freshly made Varutharacha Sambar, an Onam sadhya is incomplete. It defines the entire meal and elevates the sadhya to a new level. Ideally, one must serve it with steamed matta rice, neyi (ghee), thoran and banana chips.

The traditional recipe uses drumsticks pods. They are called moringa in the local tongue and are high in calcium, iron, and vitamins. They aid with bone development and are excellent for expectant mothers. They also offer qualities that help digestion, blood purification, and infection protection. 

Varutharacha Sambar


  • 1/2 cup split toor dal
  • 2 potatoes (peeled and cut into cubes)
  • 1 drumstick 
  • 2 cups white pumpkin (chopped into medium cubes)
  • 2 carrots (peeled and cut into cubes)
  • 6 lady finger (cut into half)
  • 1 tomato diced
  • 10 shallots, whole or cut into half
  • 1-1/2 cup tamarind water
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 green chillies 
  • 1 sprig  fresh curry leaves
  • 5 sprig fresh coriander leaves
  • Salt to taste

 Homemade Roasted Coconut Sambar Powder

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon Bengal gram
  • 1 teaspoon split black urad dal
  • 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 3 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • Few fresh curry leaves 
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida


  • 2 teaspoons coconut Oil
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 1 sprig of fresh curry leaves

Kerala style sambar, Image Credit:Sprinkle of Flavours


  1. Heat coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Roast fenugreek seeds till they turn light brown. Introduce the bengal gram and split urad dal and fry till they get brown colour. Add the hing, and within a minute, turn off the flame. Let it cool down. 
  2. Take a pan, roast the coriander seeds and dry red chillies till they leave an aroma and turn light golden. Add the curry leaves and grated coconut. Roast until the coconut gets a brown colour. Remove from the heat. 
  3. Once all the roasted ingredients under sambar masala cool down, pound them into a coarse powder in the blender. 
  4. Now for the sambar, pressure cook all the vegetables, tamarind water, a cup of water and seasoning with salt and turmeric powder. Let it give two whistles. Switch off the flame.
  5. Combine the lentils, the cooked veggies in tamarind water, and the sambar powder in a big saucepan. They should be thoroughly mixed together. Test the levels of salt and spice.
  6. Set the heat to medium. The Varutharacha Sambar should simmer for 5 to 6 minutes.
  7. Now in another pan, heat coconut oil, add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Add the thinly sliced onions. Fry them till they turn brown. Stir in the curry leaves and dry red chilies, and cook for a few seconds until the red chiles are toasted.
  8. Add the spice to the Varutharacha Sambar as it simmers. Then top with chopped coriander leaves. 
  9. Before serving, turn off the heat and let the sambar sit covered for 10 to 15 minutes.

Relish it with steaming hot rice.