Best Ready To Eat Instant Sambar Mix
MTR, Gits, and Tops competed to win the title of the Best Ready To Eat Instant Sambar Mix, but it was the MTR Sambar Mix that took our hearts away.
Sambar or Sambhar (सांभर) is an extremely popular dish made using yellow split pigeon pea lentils known as arhar dal commonly, tamarind, mixed vegetables, and a lot of spices and herbs. Even though the dish is native to Southern India, it is widely consumed throughout the country. This is a versatile stew that can be paired with idlis, dosas, vadas, uttapam, or even plain steamed rice. When we set out to find the best instant sambar mix, we tasted it with plain rice idlis and found that amongst all the contenders, MTR’s Instant Sambar Mix was the tastiest. Our in-depth review of the Best Ready To Eat Instant Sambar Mix will help you understand why we chose MTR as our Top Pick.
Top Pick – MTR Instant Sambar Mix
Why did we choose MTR Instant Sambar Mix as our Top Pick?
We chose MTR’s Instant Sambar Mix as our Top Pick because it is the tastiest, and offers the best balance of flavor, exactly what you get in a market-style sambar. When we eat sambar, we expect the tanginess of tamarind and a mild sweetness that cuts in later. We also expect the bold presence of mustard seeds and curry leaves. Our Top Pick, MTR Instant Sambar Mix, has all of it.
MTR Instant Sambar Mix has a beautiful balance of flavor that replicates a bowl of restaurant-style sambar, making it our Top Pick.
MRP – Rs 80/-*
Net weight – 180 grams
*Price at the time of review
During our dry inspection, we could clearly smell a lot of asafoetida (hing) and curry leaves. This medium, bright orange-colored instant sambar powder is dominant on the hing flavor as well.
While we were cooking the instant sambar mix, we noticed that the masala blends well in water and doesn’t form lumps. A beautiful curry leaf and tomato fragrance spread throughout our test kitchen.
The salt and chilli levels, the mild sweetness and the sourness from tamarind, combined with the rai-curry patta tadka was a big hit. We tasted these, during our blind tastings, with steaming hot rice idlis, this sambar the best.
A 180 gram pack of the MTR sambar mix is priced at Rs 80/-. The instructions given at the back of the pack are easy to follow.
Why did Tops Sambhar Instant Mix and Gits Sambar Mix not win?
The other two competitors – Tops Sambhar Instant Mix and Gits Sambar Mix did not win because of several factors that didn’t seem up to the mark.
Earlier, when we reviewed Tops Sambhar Instant Mix, we liked the use of warm aromatics and spices, but it pales in comparison to our Top Pick. When we tasted Tops Sambhar, we only got a very unidimensional spiciness. While the sambar-like flavors of mustard seeds and red chilies were good, there was no relief from the spiciness. The balance of flavors we usually find in a well-made sambar is entirely missing.
The Gits Instant Sambar Mix did not win because it lacked the aroma and taste we associate with sambar. Even when hot, the sambar has a gelatinous texture. This made it checkmark all the wrong boxes in the taste and consistency department. With Gits Sambar, we could taste how kacha and undercooked the masala seemed (We followed the exact instructions given on the pack).
Our Review Process
There are days where nothing puts you in a bad mood. This was one of those! Dozens of fluffy rice idlis, a vat of coconut chutney, and a few delicious bowls of sambar later, we found the best instant sambar mix for you. Here is how we did it!
What Goes In a Traditional Sambar/Sambhar?
A traditional sambar is made up of a few key ingredients like –
- Arhar Dal – Arhar dal or yellow split pigeon pea is the base that forms the sambar giving it body and thicker consistency. More the dal, the thicker the sambar.
- Mixed vegetables – Typically, a sambar consists of vegetables like pearl onions, carrots, pumpkin, tomatoes, drumsticks and eggplant. Many variations add okra, onions, and French beans as well.
- Tamarind – Tamarind is the soul of a sambar! It lends its distinct sourness to the sambar, without which it would not be the flavor fest we are used to. The subtle tang of tamarind cannot be replaced by the sharpness that comes from amchoor or lemon juice.
- Spices and herbs – While a lot of us use a pre-made Sambar powder/sambar masala these days, a majority of people still prefer a hand ground spice mix for their sambhar masala including dried red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and much more. Apart from that, black mustard seeds (rai) and curry leaves add a layer of flavor.
Who Is This Review For?
This review is for everyone who loves eating freshly made sambar, but doesn’t have the time to gather all the ingredients to make some at home. If you like restaurant style sambar in the comfort of your home, this review will come in handy.
How We Picked The Brands
The only qualification for a brand to be a part of this review was to have an instant sambar mix that could be made by mixing the sambar mix in hot water and simmering it with a handful of fresh vegetables. We picked three brands of sambar instant mixes that are easily available in leading grocery stores around India and on various online portals. All the brands we picked are big players in the instant mix department and have a wide range of ready-to-cook mixes like rice idli, dosas, rava idli, and khaman dhoklas.
The Brands We Picked
While reviewing the Best Ready To Eat Instant Sambar Mix, we looked for two significant things – Flavor and consistency.
- Flavor – Flavor is everything in a taste test! We checked for balance of flavors, the signature tamarind tang, the use of spices and herbs like mustard seeds and curry leaves.
- Consistency – While discussing this, we answered a few important questions like – how thin or thick is the sambar when made using the exact instructions given on the pack? Is it gloopy and gelatinous as it gets colder? Lumpy or smooth? We were looking for consistency which goes well with idlis, dosas, rice and vadas.
How We Reviewed
Dry inspection – We started our review process by inspecting the dry sambar mixes – their color, taste and dominant aroma (if any).
Prepping Phase – We started out by making the sambars as per the instructions given on the pack of the instant sambar mix. All sambar mixes had different methods of cooking and we adhered to the mentioned process. We added chopped tomatoes, sliced red onions and slices of parboiled carrots to the sambar to turn it closer to a bowl of sambar we usually eat. We did not add any spices, herbs, or tadkas of our own.
Our taste test (Mishry Secret Sauce) – To make our taste test more realistic, we blind tasted all the sambars. But, there was a catch. We threw in a bowl of sambar from a popular Udupi restaurant to toughen the competition. As this was a blind tasting session, no one knew which sambar was ordered from the restaurant.
To give each sambar a fair chance, we tasted the idlis made using MTR Rice Idli Mix, which is our Top Pick from the best rice idli review. After a back-to-back tasting session, we landed on our winner.
Quick Comparison – Best Ready To Eat Instant Sambar Mix
|Price||Rs 65/-||Rs 55/-||Rs 80/-|
|Net weight||100 grams||100 grams||180 grams|
|Shelf life||12 months||12 months||12 months|
|Color||Bright orange||Dull rust-brown||Medium bright orange|
Results Of Our Review
Our Top Pick is like a Bollywood Masala Movie – it has it all – tanginess, mild sweetness, spiciness. The title of the Best Ready To Eat Instant Sambar Mix goes to MTR Instant Sambar Mix because of the perfectly balanced flavors it has. From all the samples we tasted side-by-side, our bowls of sambar made using MTR’s Instant Sambar Mix finished the quickest.
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* Our reviews are unbiased and all samples used during the reviews were paid for by us. Read our entire ethics statement here.
* No part of this review is sponsored by any brand. All expenses were borne by us.