Sambar Recipe - South Indian Recipe

Yellow Lentil and vegetables dish
South Indian Lentil Curry Recipes

This sambar recipe is a popular south Indian recipe.

It is an important side dish that is served with Rava Idli, Dosa , upma, Idli, Steamed Rice - Plain rice etc.

Sambar is made with yellow lentil called pigeon peas - Tuvar dal - toor dal and vegetables.

Ready sambarReady sambar
Sambar with riceSambar with rice

You can use any vegetables of your choice such as onions, potatoes, tomatoes, brinjals, beans, cabbage, knolkol, raddish etc. you can use any one or a mix of these vegetables.

The sambar powder can be made in large quantities and stored for 6 months or more. I usually make it for about 3 months.

Of course the freshly made sambar powder has a special taste, which I make once in a while when I have more time.

I am using onions and tomatoes in this recipe. My family loves it.

I am also making fresh sambar powder for this recipe.

You may use 1 1/2 tbsp ready sambar powder instead if you do not have time to make fresh sambar powder now.

If you are using ready sambar powder, you may skip the info to make sambar powder in small quantity given below.

How to make sambar powder in small quantity

Step by step instructions for making sambar

 Ingredients  for Sambar Powder
  • Coriander seeds - 1 table spoon
  • Chana dal - 1 tea spoon
  • Urad dal -1/2 tea spoon
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tea spoon
  • Asafetida - 1/4 tea spoon
  • Red chillies - 2 to 4, according to taste
  • Black pepper - 1/4 tea spoon
  • Mustard seeds - 1/4 tea spoon
  • Methi (fenugreek) seeds - 1/4 tea spoon

Making sambar powder

  • Roast the sambar powder ingredients on low flame.
  • Grind to fine powder.

How to make Sambar - South Indian lentil recipe

Main ingredients for onion sambar

Ingredients for Sambar for 2-3 servings:

  • Toor dal - 1 small cup
  • Tamarind - a lime sized ball
  • Onions 2 medium sized, chopped
  • Tomatoes - 2 medium sized, chopped
  • Curry leaves - a sprig.
  • Coriander leaves - 1 tbsp chopped.
  • Salt - 1 tea spoon or to taste.
  • Water - 3-4 cups.
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves, chopped - 1 tbsp

Optional ingredients

Jaggery - 1/2 tsp or according to taste.

Fresh grated coconut - 1 tbsp

Ingredients for tempering:

  • Oil + ghee - 1 tsp each
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida - 1 pinch
  • Turmeric powder - 1/4 teaspoon.

Making sambar

1. Soak tamarind in 1 cup of warm water for about 15 minutes. Squeeze tamarind and get pulp.

You may use the pulp according to the sourness you like.

2. Wash 1 small cup toor dal and cook it in 1 1/2 cups water till it is soft. You may cook it on the stove top in a pot/pan. Or use a separator in the  pressure cooker for toor dal when you cook rice.

I usually use pressure cooker as it is faster.

3. Mash toordal using the back of a ladle or a potato masher. You may use a blender if you wish. Or you may just mash it up using your hand.

4. Heat vegetable oil/ghee in a deep thick bottom vessel or pan. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they start spluttering add curry leaves.

5. Add hing/asafetida and turmeric powder. Add chopped onion and stir fry for a minute or till onion turns translucent.

6. Add chopped tomatoes and cook till tomatoes become soft.

7. Add a cup of water after tomatoes are cooked. Add sambar powder. Mix and bring to boil. Let boil for about 5 minutes on low flame.

8. After 5 minutes, add cooked and mashed toor dal. Add salt and some tamarind juice/pulp (according to your taste). Add jaggery now if adding.

9. Mix well. Add more water if sambar looks too thick. Add water if you want the consistency thin and continue boiling for another 5 minutes.

10. Add chopped coriander leaves and switch off. Keep covered till serving time.

Sambar is ready to serve with dosa, Rava Idli , Rice.


 Tips and variations

  • I have used onions and tomatoes in this sambar recipe. This is a favorite combination in my home.
  • You may use small onions/shallots, known as sambar onion or Madras onion.
  • You may also use some other vegetables such as potatoes, brinjals, green beans, carrots, okra(ladies finger) etc. instead of or along with onions and tomatoes.
  • You may store leftover sambar in the fridge for 3-4 days. Just reheat and serve.

Related Pages to visit:

Pepper rasam, menasina saru, milaga rasam : A healthy hot drink for colds and throat irritation.

Rasam Powder : Saves time when you use the ready spice powder.

Rasam - serve as appetizer, soup, and also with Plain Steamed Rice

Indian Bread

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