Poondu (Garlic) Sambar Recipe

Poondu Sambar Recipe
Poondu Sambar belongs to the typical South Arcot Cuisine that uses very less components for the main ingredient of a dish. I learned this recipe from my MIL and came to know that a sambar can be made with just garlic alone only after my marriage. This sambar does not have any other vegetables, not even onions and tomatoes that are used in almost all other sambar recipes. If you happen to love garlic as much as I do, this will be a real treat for your lunch. The taste and flavor of this sambar is very unique and the best recipe to make when you do not happen to have any vegetables staring at you in your refrigerator.

Anusha, Roshni and myself have joined forces to have a Palooza in a Pan every month to not only enrich our knowledge of the Cuisines across the World but also to add some healthy recipes to our repertoire in our search for finger licking, nutritious meals for our family and this Poondu Sambar goes in as my first contribution for the celebration of Legumes.

Sambar made with poondu (garlic)

Poondu (Garlic) Sambar Recipe

Prep time: 15 mins  |  Cook time: 20 mins  |  Serves: 4
Recipe Cuisine: South Indian  |  Recipe Category: Main

Poondu sambar recipe


  • Garlic, peeled – pods from 2 medium sized bulbs
  • Tur dal (Pigeon Peas) – 1/2 cup
  • Tamarind – 1 small lemon size ball
  • Sambar powder – 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Vengaya Kari Vadagam – 1/2 tsp
  • Whole dry red chillies - 2
  • Asafetida – 1/8 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Salt – to taste
  • Oil – 2 tsp


  1. Soak tamarind in hot water. Extract pulp and keep aside.
  2. Wash and soak tur dal for 10 mins. In a pressure cooker, place the dal, turmeric powder, enough water and cook for 2-3 whistles till the dal is soft. Mash well and keep aside.
  3. Place the peeled garlic in a mortar and just pound them once with the pestle. The garlic should just have a crack, just enough to let out its aroma. You can do them individually too if you do not mind the time it takes. Keep aside.
  4. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and when they crackle add vengaya kari vadagam, asafetida, broken whole dry red chilies and sauté for 1/2 minute.
  5. Add the tamarind pulp, salt and the garlic pods. Let it come to a bubbling boil. Now add sambar powder and cook for 2 minutes till the raw smell goes off over medium flame.
  6. Now add the mashed tur dal, mix well, simmer the flame, close with a lid and cook for 5-7 mins. The flavors would have merged by now.
  7. Transfer to the serving bowl, add fresh curry leaves, mix well, close with a lid and let it be for 5 minutes.
  8. Serve hot with a steaming rice and enjoy a hearty lunch with your favorite side dish.
Poondu Sambar for south indian lunch


  1. Use the country or “Naattu” poondu, the small variety to make this sambar. Avoid using the Chinese garlic that’s also called as “Malai” poondu.
  2. If there is any left over, reheat on the same day to use if for next day. It tastes even better. Do not refrigerate it over night. The taste will not be the same.
  3. Adjust the quantity of garlic pods according to your preference.
  4. Do not add any other vegetable or onion for this sambar.
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