Saturday 4 July 2015

Thirunelveli Sambar - Tamil Nadu Special

Thirunelveli also known as Nellai is a city in the Southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. It is located on the banks of Thamirabarani River. Thirunelveli has a number of historical monuments, the Nellaiappar Temple being the most prominent. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and worshiped as Nellaiappar. Thiru-Nel-Veli(Thiru –shri, Nel –Paddi, Veli-Fence). It is believed that food grains collected for worship at the temple were protected from the floods by the fence, hence the name []. Apart from temples and natural beauty, Thirunelveli is famous for Iruttu Kadai Halwa, Sodhi and many more recipes. Today I am going to share with you all a very famous Thirunelveli Sambar which has unique flavor, taste and aroma. Do try out this Thirunelveli sambar and post your comments. Meanwhile, do check out other sambar varieties ,I have posted earlier.

Here’s how to make Thirunelveli Sambar with step by step photos…

Thoor dal/Thuvaram Paruppu
1 cup
1 large finely chopped
2 finely chopped
2 whole [cut to pieces]
1 small lemon sized ball
As needed
Turmeric Powder
½ tsp
Cilantro/Coriander Leaves
2 tbsp

For Grinding
1 small onion
Grated Coconut
4 tbsp
Dry Red Chillies
Cumin Seeds/Jeeragam
1 tsp

For Tempering
1 tbsp
Mustard Seeds/Kadugu
½ tsp
Cumin Seeds/Jeeragam
½ tsp
Urad Dal/Ullutham Paruppu
¼ tsp
Methi Seeds/Vendhayam/Fenugreek seeds
5-8 seeds
Curry leaves
One big pinch
Preparation time: 10-15 minutes                       Recipe Category: Veg Gravies,Lunch
Cooking time: 25 minutes                                    Recipe Cuisine: TamilNadu,South India
Serves: 4-6
Author: Priya Anandakumar

Wash and soak the thoor dal for 15 min. Pressure cook dal with 2 ½ cups of water, turmeric powder, hing/asafoetida for three whistles. After the steam releases, add little water, mash the dal and keep it aside.

Grind the ingredients mentioned under grinding and keep the masala aside.

Extract the juice from tamarind with ¼ cup of water and keep it aside.

Heat oil in a pan/kadai, splutter mustard seeds, add cumin seeds, urad dal, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida powder, curry leaves and fry for about 20 seconds.

Now add onions and saute until they turn golden brown colour.

Add the chopped tomatoes and fry until they turn mushy.

Now add the drumsticks, salt and saute for few minutes. 

Add little water, turmeric powder, cover and cook the drumsticks.

Add the cooked & mashed dal to the cooked drumsticks. Mix thoroughly.

Now add the ground masala paste, tamarind water and boil for about 5-7 minutes.

When it comes to rolling boil add the finely chopped cilantro and switch off the stove.

Yes, delicious and flavourful Thirunelveli Sambar is ready to be enjoyed. Serve it hot with plain white rice, idlis, dosas, vadai etc.

Thank you all for visiting my space, please come back again for more authentic and traditional recipes of Tamil Nadu. Check out other sambar and dal varieties here.

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Until then I am signing off…


  1. wow yummy sambar <3

  2. Have to try this delicious sambar..Also love tirunelveli halwa hehehe

  3. Tried it today.smells divine

    1. Thank you so much Ajay for trying the sambar and letting me know, keep visiting for more delectable recipes...

  4. Thank you. Made a tasty Thirunelveli sambar with your guidance. Thanks again Madam.

    1. Thank you very much sir, pls keep visiting and supporting


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Priya Anandakumar