Kadamba Sambar/Saadam

Kadambam’ in Tamil refers to an assortment of similar things. It more commonly refers to a flower string which is a mixture of flowers like malli, marikozhundu, sampangi, davanam, kanakaambaram. The garland is extremely fragrant and the varying colors are such a treat to the eye. I love wearing this flower garland in my hair, particularly after an oil bath. The damp hair absorbs the scents of the flowers, leaving it fragrant even after two days. Now-a-days, I don’t see women wearing this garland anymore. White jasmine strings are preferred to a more country-esque kadambam. Come to think of it, wearing flowers itself is going out of style. I am an ardent lover of wearing flower strings and I miss it dearly.

Kadamba sambar, a speciality from my native, Thanjavur, is akin to its namesake garland. The vegetables are varied in terms of color, texture, taste and looks, yet aesthetically delightful. The recipe is very similar to arachu vitta sambar, but the vegetables make a difference.

But this is ezhukari kuzhambu, one may say. Yes and no. Yes, because, they both are special kinds of sambar made with more than one vegetable. No, because, ezhukari kuzhambu is never meant to be eaten with rice. Its more of a side dish. Secondly, ezhukari kuzhambu is always made during the winter months, predominantly with winter vegetables and squash. On the other hand, kadamba sambar is made all year around and is always mixed with rice. That’s not much of a difference, you say? Well, that’s up to you. Call it any name you want, its scrumptious.

Vegetables in harmony - Kadamba sambar with a sprinkle of dessicated coconut

This sambar is usually made with ‘naatu karigai’, which is Tamil for country vegetables. So vegetables like cauliflower, green beans, beetroot are off limits. Also, I have used coconut milk which is not conventional. But I would recommend it highly. And, so the ghee. But if you want to make this vegan like I did, you can omit that too. I have also used a handful of dried jackfruit seeds that I collected during summer. They take a long time to cook, about 8-10 whistles in the pressure cooker.

Kadamba Sambar
(serves 2-4, depending on how much you like sambar)


Mixed vegetables – 4-5 cups, cut into 1 inch thin strips
(Flat beans, carrot, plantain, winter melon/white pumpkin, red pumpkin, ladies finger/okra, brinjal, drumstick, peas, Indian lima beans, elephant yam, sweet potato, any kind of greens, etc)
Tamarind paste – 3 tbsp
Tomato – 1, chopped
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Coconut milk – ¼ cup (optional)
Toor dal – ½ cup, pressure cooked till soft
Asafoetida – a pinch/ or a little amount dissolved in hot water, if using blocks
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, chopped

Spice mixture

Chana dal – 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Red chillies – 6
Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
Grated coconut – ¼ cup
Oil – 1 tbsp

Roast chana dal through fenugreek seeds in oil. Cool and grind along with coconut to a smooth paste.


Oil/ghee – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves - few


Dissolve tamarind paste in 1 cup of water. In a deep vessel, boil tamarind water along with salt, turmeric powder, tomato and mixed vegetables for about 15 minutes. The vegetable should be fully cooked and the tamarind shouldn’t smell raw anymore.

Add the cooked dal and spice paste and allow sambar to boil for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Finally add the coconut milk, if using and switch off the flame. Mix well and let the coconut milk to heat through. Stir in asafoetida and cilantro.

In a small skillet, heat oil/ghee and splutter mustard seeds. Remove from flame and add curry leaves. Add this seasoning to the sambar. Serve this sambar with rice and additional ghee, if preferred.

Mix generous ladles of sambar into rice (called saadam in Tamil), mix well and serve warm ‘Kadamba Saadam’ with crunchy cucumber slices, vegetable chips or appalam. The rice should not be dry, but porridge like consistency.

If you want to include onions, slice ‘em thin and sauté with mustard seeds while seasoning and add to the sambar. Omit asafoetida though, as it doesn’t go well with onions or garlic.

Steaming hot kadamba sadam, specked with jackfruit seed - comfort in a bowl

This is my entry to Rice Mela, hosted by uber-energetic Srivalli. This is also my fourth and last entry to Vegan Ventures, round 2, which runs till the end of this month. See you all next week. Have a great time with your family.

Kadamba sambar on other blogs:
Live 2 Cook
The 'yum' blog


Finla said...

WOw that recipe from the sambar sounds really yummy. I will try them once,as it is always nice to have a tottally new taste of sambar, ofcourse without the jack fruit seeds. ( we don't get them here)

Sharmi said...

I too miss wearing flower strings. infact that is the one main thing I miss about being in India:(
nice post and a bookmarked recipe. will try and let you know.

Priya said...

with lots of appalam...ummmm mmm :D
Even I love wearing the flowers Suganya, but its soo out of style now :( and I've also lost tons of hair since I came here :((

Susan said...

White jasmine....paradise....

So is this sambar. It looks thicker than others I've had/made. Is it fr/ the rice alone or the generous quantities of chunky winter veggies?

raaji said...

looks like u have dropped a lot of veggies in them.....it almost is similar is bisibele bath......

Sucharitha said...

Hi Suganya, andha naal nyaabagam vandhiduchu. Miss all the flowers, sambrani, temple and so on... the never ending list.
The sambhar looks very inviting. Addition of coconut milk is new and must give it a try.

Srivalli said...

The bowl does look very yum!..and comforting!

amna said...

i love sambar and enjoy any different ways of cooking them. surprisingly, this is the first time i am hearing of this variation. i love jackfruit seeds, but sadly, donlt get them here. I think they just throw them away here in Singapore cuz u get plent jackfruits.

Nirmala said...

I love this type of Sambar. Amma used to make with all left over veggies during weekends. Lovely with rice and ghee! Drooling ;)

SMN said...

This is truely my kind of food and i always love mixed veg sambhar

sra said...

I used to love wearing flowers, all ended when I cut my hair at 19!

But I also notice that jasmine doesn't smell good - or bad, anymore. The scent seems to have gone away over the years.

Vijitha said...

Yummy pic! lovely presentation!

Anonymous said...

Haven't ever heard or tasted such sambhar...its exploding with flavours and u have captured it so well...drooling drooling !

Cynthia said...

I still have that rasam recipe from your blog bookmarked to try. Adding this one too.

Anonymous said...

i would definitely love the coconut milk and the jackfruit seeds in this amazing dish! You capture it so beautifully too!

Lazy Blogger said...

nice touch with the coconut milk. I guess, the sweetness of the coconut milk compensates for the dryness of the dessicated coconut. I actually used a little coconut milk when i made avial and it tasted much better

Anonymous said...

Hi suganyaa,
I found your pictures here
Just to inform you!

Aparna Balasubramanian said...

This is my favourite sambhar and My slightly different version has been sitting in my drafts yet to see the light of the day.:)

Cilantro said...

Lovely description on kadhambam.
Delicious sambar sadham too.

Miri said...

Thanks for all the minute details we tend to forget or not bother to know. The sambar looks heavenly and Im now yearning for jackfruit seeds....


Suganya said...

Dear Raks, thanks for letting me know. This is the second time this is happening in the past week. I am so frustrated. I have written to the website twice. Lets see if they respond.

Arundathi said...

Suganya - that was a fantastic recipe. Thanks so much. I've blogged about it here. http://arundathi-foodblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/kadamba-sadam.html

dsdsds said...

Hi Suganya,

Thanks to your measurements and details, the Sambar came out very good. Hope I have done justice to your recipe. Do check out mine, when you have time



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