South Indian Feast – Vegan Spinach Sambar, Ridge gourd Kootu and Potato fry

My parents are from Tamil Nadu, one of the south-Indian states where food is such a big deal. My mum still makes 5-6 different varieties of food for every single meal meal of the day. I guess it was what my granny insisted to do 🙂 No wonder I hit my 94 kilo mark 😛  I have no clue what got into me this afternoon, I decided to make a south Indian food. I am not really good at it cos there are so many techniques. My mum usually teaches me short-cuts to get the taste spot on-1st time in my life-I got it perfect 😀

Menu: Vegan Spinach Sambar, Ridge gourd Kootu and Potato fry– All Tamil based.


3 main ingredients are mustard seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves and they are an excellent combo. 99% of Indians go gaga over Sambar. I am in the top 10. If you have been reading my blog, you would have read me mentioning Sambar powder atleast 5 times. I use them even in North Indian curries 😛 Sambar is a tangy tamarind based curry with lentils. Every south-Indian state make their own version of sambar. You don’t get it as a curry as such in any Indian restaurant but you can get it served as an accompaniment with dosa (the lentil-rice gluten-free crepes).  Kootu literally translates to ‘mix’. Vegetables are mixed with lentils with a coconut-based curry paste. Potato fry-yep normal ones with Indian spices 🙂

Here you go with the recipes

Potato Fry:


  • Boiled potatoes-chopped into chunks-4 medium ones
  • Mustard seeds-1 tsp
  • Oil-1 Tbsp
  • Asafoetida-a pinch
  • Salt- needed
  • Chickpea flour-1 tsp
  • Chilli powder-as needed-1 tsp
  • Coriander powder-as needed-2 tsp
  • Curry leaves- few


Heat oil in a NON-STICK pan, add mustard seeds, curry leaves (stand at an one arm distance or run away and come back-they pop everywhere), asafoetida goes in, take pan off heat and all every spice powder except chickpea powder, keep on heat for 4-5 seconds to heat the spices and add potatoes in. Flame to low now. Toss and let it roast. Add chickpea flour after 5 mins and roast until crisp.

Ridge Gourd  Kootu:


  • Ridge gourd- peeled, de-seeded and chopped fine
  • Turmeric-1/2 tsp
  • Yellow lentils (preferred) /Split pigeon pea-pressure cooked-mushy consistency-1 cup
  • Chilli powder-to taste
  • Salt-to taste
  • Grind(2 tbsp coconut and 1 tsp cumin seeds) into a fine paste
  • You also need 2 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp mustard seeds, few curry leaves and black lentils (de-husked and split-optional), a pinch asafoetida


  • In a saucepan, add 1.5 cups water, heat it, add turmeric, salt, chili powder and when it is about to boil, add the ridge gourd in. Once the squash is soft, add ground curry paste and lentils in and wait it boils.
  • Transfer it to the serving bowl and in the same pan, add oil, once it heats up add mustard seeds, let them pop, add asafoetida, lentils and curry leaves-wait until lentils turn brown and pour them over the curry 🙂 Yum 🙂

Palak/Spinach Sambar


  • Spinach- 500 gms-finely chopped
  • 2 onions-finely chopped
  • Garlic-5 pods-chopped fine
  • 2 tomatoes-blend them
  • Tamarind paste-1.5 tsp mixed in 2 cups of water
  • Turmeric-1 tsp
  • Sambar powder-1 tbsp+2 tsp
  • Chili powder-1 tsp
  • Salt-to taste
  • Curry leaves-a sprig
  • Asafoetida-2 pinches
  • Mustard seeds-2 tsp
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • Split Pigeon pea-1.5 cups cooked-very mushy
  • Dry red chili-2-split


  • In a stockpot, add 1 tbsp oil, mustard seeds, asafoetida, once they pop, add split red chilies, curry leaves, after they splutter, add onions and garlic, little salt, saute until brown, add spinach leaves, turmeric, 2 tsp sambar masala and fry until spinach is cooked.
  •  Time to add blended tomatoes, rest of sambar masala, chili powder and let the tomatoes boil.
  • After a couple of minutes, add tamarind water, salt and let it boil on an open flame for more than 10-12 minutes until tamarind cooks well [I guess I add too much tamarind cos I love it tangy-you might have to lessen this quantity]
  • Now, add lentils and let it just boil and take it off heat 🙂
  • Amazing sambar 🙂


6 thoughts on “South Indian Feast – Vegan Spinach Sambar, Ridge gourd Kootu and Potato fry

  1. Wow! That’s a full blown meal there!! I’ve never used chickpea flour in potato fry, usually make it with rice flour coating. Spinach sambar is an all time favorite of mine. Yummy photos!

  2. I absolutely digg south indian meals! You would know by now …. considering the number of recipes on my blog!:) What you have here is a little different from the karnataka style….but I am surely gonna try it.

  3. Spinach sambar.., first time I have heard of it… Surely going to try…. South Indian meal is a hit in my house :).
    Lovely spread.
    I am wondering why your post didn’t show up on my reader’s blog….

    • Yeah-It is the easiest-so I make it all the time 🙂 Thanks 🙂
      Try to unfollow and follow me back-Sometimes I do that too and then it works 🙂

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