Sambar and its Marathi origins
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Sambar and its Marathi origins

Did you know that 'sambar' was actually invented by a Marathi?

Sambar and its Marathi origins

Every dish has its own story to tell, but do you know the history of sambar?

Sambar is a popular dish, cooked and served across the subcontinent. There are various recipes for sambar, depending on the taste and topography of a state or a city.  However, the essence of sambar remains unchanged. 

You’ll notice that the taste of sambar in many regions are different as compared to other places. For instance sambar in Kerala tastes extremely different than the sambar prepared in Maharashtra.  But, one thing is for sure, no matter which part of the country you eat sambar in, the taste may vary, but it's never 'wrong'.

According to 'youngisthan', a popular food website,  sambar was actually prepared in the Thanjavur kitchen of a Marathi King named Shahaji Bhonsale, son of Ekoji, and founder of the Marathi rule of Thanjavur. 

As the story goes, one fine morning, Shahaji, who used to enjoy cooking, was trying to prepare amti (Maharashtrians dish), which included kokum as its main ingredient. As fate had it, kokum was not available then. Shahaji decided to replace kokum with tamarind. 

Finally, amti was prepared using lentils, tamarind, and vegetables. It was then first served to Shivaji’s son Sambhaji who was visiting his relative Shahaji Maharaj in Tamil Nadu's Thanjavur. He savoured this new concoction so much that it was named sambhar, after Sambhaji’s name.

In the Kannada language 'sambaru padartha' means a mix of spices & condiments.

Whether it is from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra or Karnataka, all we know today is that sambar is a mouth-watering dish one can't say not to. South-Indian dishes like dosa, idli, vada, and uttapam cannot be eaten without a serving of sambar.

Credit: Pinterest


Our favourite sambar is made using yellow lentils, sambar masala, tamarind, curry leaves, mustard seeds and vegetables.

How to make: 

  • Cook yellow dal with salt until it gets tender
  • Add sambar masala, tamarind and chopped vegetables, including onions, tomato, drumsticks, bottle gourd and ladyfinger. Cook until the vegetables are tender. 
  • Heat oil in a saucepan and add mustard seeds. Sauté for a couple of minutes.
  • Add red peppers and curry leaves to the pan. Sauté till they start popping, mix 2-3 times and then add the mixture to your cooked.
  • Let the sambar boil and then let it simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot.

Pair your bowl of sambar with idlis, vadas or even uttapams. Or better, just gobble one down without any other dish, like I do!