Home made sambhar powder is way more flavourful than anything you can buy. To use it in sambhar (a lentil and vegetable stew), follow the recipe here. You can also use it in dishes other than sambhar - sprinkle it into soups and stews or Indian curries and vegetable preparations for an instant smoky, spicy hit. I also like to use it when grilling shrimp or fish.
Dried curry leaves are available in Indian grocery stores or can easily be made at home as well. Simply strip the leaves off fresh curry leaf stems and spread them evenly on a paper towel lined plate. Let them dry out on your counter top for a couple of days. Seal in an airtight bag.
1/2 cup coriander seeds
20 hot dried red chilies
2 each: cinnamon stick (broken up), star anise, mace flowers (optional)
2 tbsp chana dal (yellow split peas)
1 tbsp each: urad dal ( white gram), arhar dal (split pigeon peas), cumin seeds
1 tsp each, whole spices: black peppercorn, fenugreek, black mustard, cloves, green cardamom
1/4 cup each: dried curry leaves, dried coconut flakes
2 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp dried ground ginger
A large pinch of hing (asafoetida), optional
Set a large non stick frying pan over medium low heat. Add all the whole spices and dals, except for the curry leaves, coconut flakes, turmeric, ginger and hing (if using).
Toast for about 5 min or until spices darken and become aromatic and dals change colour too. Add curry leaves and coconut flakes and continue toasting for another min or two, until coconut becomes lightly brown.
Cool and grind in a clean spice or coffee grinder. Mix in the turmeric, ginger and hing (if using).
Cool completely and store in an airtight container.