North Indian style Sambhar making at home. Sambar often contains sambar powder, a coarse spice mix made of roasted lentils, roasted whole red chilies, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds and sometimes asafoetida and curry leaves. Regional variations include cumin, black pepper, grated coconut, cinnamon, chana dal, urad dal, tur dal, or other spices.
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Some variations of sambhar include ingredients such as moong dal and pumpkin. Sambar is usually served with steamed rice as one of the main courses of both formal and everyday south Indian cuisine. A two-course meal of sambar mixed with rice and eaten with some sort of vegetable side dish, followed by yoghurt mixed with rice, is a southern Indian staple.