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Sambar recipe

  • Author: Nithya Narasimhan
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Southindian Sambar – Sharing my mum’s classic sambar recipe, warm, a true comfort in a bowl with aromatic cooked lentils and spices, nutritious and on your table under 25 minutes! 



To cook Toor dal: 


  • 1/2 cup Toor dal
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds 
  • 5 garlic pods
  • 6 leaves Curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Gingelly oil
  • 2 cups water. 
  • Salt 

To make sambar: 

  • 1 Cup Cooked Dal 
  • 1 Onion 
  • 2 Tomato
  • 2green chili 
  • 1 Cup squash
  • 1 Sprig coriander leaves 
  • 2 tablespoon tamarind pulp
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder 
  • 1/2 Tablespoon sambar powder 
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt 

For Seasonings: 


  • 1 tablespoon gingerly oil 
  • 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves 
  • 1/8 teaspoon Asafoetida. 
  • 1/4 teaspoon Vadagam ( if using) 


To Cook Dal: 

  1. To a Pressure cooker add Toor dal, cumin seeds, Turmeric powder, garlic, curry leaves, coriander leaves, Gingerly oil, salt, and 2 cups of water. Pressure cook for 5 to 6 Hisses. Once the pressure is released, mash the cooked dal to be softened. 
  2. Transfer all the cooked dal to a saucepot reserving 2 tablespoons of dal ( we add it later), Add 2 cups of water, Add in squash, tomato, onion, green chili, coriander leaves, and curry leaves.
  3. Over medium heat, cook until the vegetables are cooked. Add in chili powder, sambar powder, turmeric powder. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. 
  4. Add the reserved dal and tamarind pulp. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. 

To season: 

  1. Heat gingerly oil, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida. Stir fry for few seconds and then add to the sambar, 
  2. Sprinkle Coriander leaves and serve. 


You may use combinations of lentils like Moong dal or masoor dal. 

You can add a pinch of jaggery to complement the taste. 

The vegetables have to be just tender, do not overcook them, if you overcook them they may turn mushy. 

Toor dal need not be soaked, wash multiple times to remove impurities. Seasonings play a vital role in sambar, keep the heat low while you season otherwise the spices may burn quickly. 

  • Category: Maincourse
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Indian

Keywords: sambar, sambar recipe, southindian sambar