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Sambar is a traditional South Indian lentil-based vegetable stew. Any vegetables can be used in making sambar, the most common ones being carrots, tomatoes, onions, potatoes and drumsticks. It is typically served with rice.

Servings: 10-12, Cooking time including preparation 35-40 minutes.


For Sambar:

If using tamarind, soak it in water for 10 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind juice and discard the pulp and seeds. This step can be skipped if using tamarind paste.

Cook the dal in a vessel with three cups of water for 15 minutes. Alternatively, dal can be cooked in a pressure cooker for 4 whistles. Mash the cooked toor dal.

In a separate large vessel, dry roast mustard seeds, methi seeds, 2 whole red chilies, a half teaspoon jeera (cumin), and 10 curry leaves for 1 minute. Add drumsticks, onions, turmeric and salt – stir them well. Add tamarind juice or tamarind paste. Add tomato. Mix the sambar masala paste (see below for the recipe), and add 2 cups of water. Let it cook for 6-7 minutes. Mix the cooked toor dal and add a cup of water. Stir well. Let the Sambar boil for another 15 mins. Add jaggery/brown sugar and coriander leaves/cilantro.

Recipe for sambar masala paste: dry roast chana dal and urad dal for 2 mins and then add rest of the ingredients – dry roast for 3-4 mins, add coconut – mix it well, roast for 1 min – set it aside for few mins. Grind it with 1 cup of water to make sambar paste. Keep this paste aside.

Transfer the Sambar into serving bowl.


1/2 cup (100g) of Toor dal (yellow lentil)
1 ounce (30g) of Tamarind or 1/2 tablespoon of Tamarind paste
1 teaspoon of red chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder
Salt for taste (one to two teaspoons)
4 long drum sticks
2 small onions – cut each into 8 pieces
2 Tomatoes (cut each tomato into 8 pieces)
1/4 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/8 teaspoon of fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
2 red chilies, whole
1/2 teaspoon of jeera (cumin)
10 curry leaves
1 teaspoon of brown sugar/jaggery
2 tablespoons of coriander leaves
For Sambar Masala Paste
1 1/3 tablespoons of coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon of methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
1 teaspoon of jeera (cumin) seeds
1/2 teaspoon of black peppercorns
10 red chilies, whole
2 1/2 tablespoons of fresh coconut, grated
1 tablespoon of urad dal (white lentil)
1 tablespoon of chana dal (yellow split peas)
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