Sambar Recipe - It is a delicious traditional South Indian lentil and mix vegetable stew made using special spice powder. This sambar dal is a great side dish, easy to make and significantly served as a breakfast along with soft idli, vada, dosa.
An ultimate vegetable sambar recipe to pair with rice, a heavenly combination, believe me!
What Is Sambar?
As mentioned above, sambhar is a tasty stew of lentils and mixed vegetables cooked using special Sambar Spice Powder. It is staple to every South Indian home and made almost everyday either for breakfast or for lunch as well as dinner.
It is one of the most popular South Indian dish that is healthy and so nutritious. It's 'irresistible' deliciousness is cherry on cake.
Seeing the ingredients, you might get daunted, but truly, it is extremely easy to put everything together. That beautiful, slightly tangy, aromatic, vegetables and lentil full tempered stew is to die for.
For me and my kids, an ideal meal is either idli sambar, vada sambar or sambar with rice or dosa. Now, that gives me the purpose to make this delicious lentil stew much frequently.
Coming to the details of the dish, even though you will find that sambaar is very well versed preparation from South Indian Cuisine, but, every state has it's own touch, with slight variations and tastes different from each other.
Most of the traditional sambar recipes makes the use of Tuvar dal (toor dal - split region pea). Having said that, sometimes even masoor or split red lentils as well as moong dal or yellow lentils or a mix of any of these are also used.
Moreover, key to delicious sambhar is the use of really good, flavorful and aromatic sambar powder. Hence I always go for my homemade masala powder over the store bought ones.
Variety of Sambar Recipes
In Tamil Nadu, the basic local vegetables that actually goes in are mostly drumsticks (Moringa), radish, brinjal and sometimes golden pumpkin. Preparation also usually makes the use of dry sambar powder to make this dish and it slightly towards the tangier hint. Use of sesame oil (gingerly oil) is common in Tamil Nadu.
Whereas Kerala style (Varutharacha) Sambar recipe makes the use of potato, carrots, okras, ash gourd along with rest of veggies mentioned above. Mostly, it is cooked in coconut oil.
In Karnataka style sambar, you will find mild sweetish hint, which is due to the addition of little jaggery. Udupi style sambar is significantly a Satvik version, hence uses no onion and garlic in it.
However, in most of the Udupi hotel or restaurants, they do add some shallots to accommodate the taste buds of their customers.
Arachuvitta Sambar recipe is a tambrahm (Tamil Brahmins) speciality where they do not add onions and garlic. Furthermore, they always grind the roasted spices along with coconut freshly and then proceed with the making. Because 'Arachuvitta' means 'Fresh', hence the name.
Whatever style or method you follow, all the variations are equally tasty and unique in its own way.
Vegetables you can add to sambar
Truly speaking, I cannot imagine my sambar dal preparation without vegetables.
Personally, I always opt for certain combination of vegetables that I really love. OMG! I can't get over the flavors of those vegetables when they combine with the lentils and sambhar powder.
The combination of vegetables I go for is, drumsticks (moringa), yellow pumpkin, radish and brinjal. And, I particularly make sure never ever to skip radish and drumsticks.
The good news is that, you can make sambar either with any one of the vegetable you like or a mix of two or three or more. So, sometimes I do cook drumstick or radish sambar and it tastes real good, it gives me instant joy and I can lick off the plate. 😀
Here's what you can opt to go for alone or in combo :
Drumsticks, eggplant, yellow pumpkin, white pumpkin (ash gourd), radish, carrots, beans, okras, raw plantain, yellow cucumber, potatoes, ivy gourd, snake gourd, bottle gourd or whatever other vegetables you like.
* You can also use little amount of bitter gourd as well, but only if you like.
Remember that the taste of the sambar also depends on the combination of vegetables you use. So, do the selection accordingly. BUT, I would highly recommend do not miss adding radish the recipe.
You can also add green leafy vegetables to the sambar. BUT, do not skip tomatoes and pearl onions (or regular onions). Avoid onions only if you are going ahead with Sattvik sambar preparation.
How to make sambar
Start off with cleaning and washing the toor dal. Then, add washed and strained dal in pressure cooker along with 2 cups of water and pressure cook until done. Once dal is done, mash it and set it aside.
In another pot, heat oil. once the heats up, add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds fry until just aromatic. Ensure not to burn the seeds. (photo 2)
Add curry leaves and dried red chillies and fry for few seconds. Then, add hing (asafoetida) and mix. (photo 3)
Add sambar onions (pearl onions/shallots) and sauté on high for a minute or 2 until soft. (photo 4)
Now, add the vegetables and sauté on high for a minute. (photo 5)
Add chopped tomatoes and sauté on high for another 2-3minutes. (photo 6)
Then, add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, sambar powder and mix. Sauté on medium heat for a minute. Take care not to burn the masalas. (photo 7)
Now, add boiled and mashed dal and salt along with a cup of water and bring it to a boil. (photo 8)
Add tamarind pulp, chopped coriander leaves and some more water depending upon the consistency you need. (photo 9)
Mix everything and simmer until vegetables are cooked through but intact. I simmer it for good 8-10 minutes to bring out the flavours to the fullest. (photo 10)
Dish out and serve hot sambar with steaming hot idli or vadas or steamed rice.
Instant Pot Recipe
First, add cleaned and washed toor dal along with 2 cups of water in the inner pot of an IP.
Switch on the IP, and place the inner pot, close the pot with IP lid with valve in sealing position. Press Manual/Pressure Cook and cook the dal on high pressure for 10 minutes. Once the IP beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally. (it will take anywhere between 15-20 minutes). (photo 2)
Mash the boiled dal using potato masher and transfer it to a bowl. For the next step, either clean the inner pot or use another inner pot if you have it. I have another one so quickly proceeded to next step). (photo 3)
Switch on the sauté mode and heat oil into it. Add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds, allow them to crackle for few seconds. Take not to burn them. (photo 4)
Add curry leaves and red chilies, fry for few seconds. Then add hing and mix. (photo 5)
Then, add shallots and sauté for minute until they are just soft. (photo 6)
Now, add all the vegetables and give them a nice sauté for a 30 seconds. (photo 7)
Then add chopped tomatoes and sauté for another 30 seconds. (photo 8)
Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and sambar powder along with ¼ of water and give it a good mix. Addition of water here will help avoiding the spices getting stuck at the bottom. (photo 9 and 10)
Add the boiled dal, salt and mix. (photo 11)
Now, tamarind extract (pulp), chopped coriander leaves, 1-2 cu[s of water and mix. (photo 12)
Close the pot again with IP lid and press manual/pressure cook with valve in sealing position, and allow it to cook on low pressure for 3 minutes. (this ensures that vegetables are cooked through along with the spices and dal, and still remains intact.)
Once the IP beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally.
Open the pot, dish out and serve steaming hot sambar with idlis, vadas, rice or uttapams.
Sambhar Powder : As I have already mentioned above that key to tasty sambar is the use of good sambar masala So, it is always best to make your own at home.
However you will various brands of powder in supermarkets. So if you are in hurry and really want to make it quickly, then go ahead with store bought ones. Some of the available brands are Eastern, MTR and Everest.
I prefer adding 2 tablespoons measure of sambar masala to ½ cup of uncooked dal. So, use this amount to get the best taste. If you love the intense flavor, then you can increase the amount as per to suit to your liking.
Vegetables, spices and oil : Ensure that you cook vegetables soft but intact. Do not over cook to mushy or under cook them.
I have not used green chilies here in this recipe. You are free to use as much you like or completely skip it. There is no fixed rule as such.
Feel free to use any of these - sesame oil, coconut oil, peanut oil or refined oil.
You can consider adding a teaspoon or two of jaggery, if you love sambar to be little sweetish.
Tamarind : I love the tamarind tang in sambhar a lot. So, I prefer to use it in great amount as my family also loves the tangier dish.
BUT, you can surely go easy on modifying its amount as per your taste. If you want less sourness, then reduce it, for more tanginess increase it.
Consistency : Adjust the consistency of the dish the way you want it to be. Feel free to add more water for thinner consistency or reduce it for thicker but pouring consistency.
Also, be vigilant to avoid adding too much water. Or in this case you may need to add more sambar powder to get the correct taste and flavor.
More delicious vegetarian recipes for you:
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- 1 cup Toor dal (Split Pegion pea)
- 4 tablespoons Oil
- 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- ¼ teaspoon Fenugreek Seeds
- 2-3 Sprigs of Curry Leaves
- 4-5 Dried Red Chilies
- 2-3 Pinches of Hing (Asafoetida)
- ½ cup Shallots (pearl onions)
- 2 Brinjal (Eggplant) (medium sized, sliced)
- 1 Radish (medium sized, sliced)
- ½ cup Pumpkin (cut in 1 inch cubes)
- 4 Vegetable Drumsticks (scraped and cut in 3 inches size)
- 3 Tomatoes (Medium sized, chopped)
- ¾ teaspoon Kashmiri Red chilli powder
- ¾ teaspoon Turmeric powder
- 3-4 tablespoons Sambar Powder
- Salt to taste
- ¼ cup Tamarind pulp (you may increase or decrease it as per your taste)
- Water as needed
- ¼ cup Coriander leaves (tightly packed)
Making sambar on Stovetop
- Clean and wash the toor dal well. Add washed and strained dal in pressure cooker along with 2 cups of water and pressure cook until done. Once dal is done, mash it and set it aside.
- In another pot, heat oil. Add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds fry until just aromatic. Ensure not to burn the seeds.
- Add curry leaves and dried red chillies and fry for few seconds. Then, add hing (asafoetida) and mix.
- Add sambar onions (pearl onions/shallots) and sauté on high for a minute or 2 until soft.
- Add all the vegetables ( brinjal, radish, pumpkin, drumsticks) and mix. Sauté on high for a minute. Add chopped tomatoes and sauté on high for another 2-3minutes.
- Add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, sambar powder and mix. Sauté on medium heat for a minute. Take care not to burn the masalas.
- Add boiled and mashed dal and salt, mix . Add tamarind pulp, chopped coriander leaves and water. The amount of water depends upon the consistency of sambar you need.
- Mix everything and simmer until vegetables are cooked through but intact. I simmer it for good 8-10 minutes to bring out the flavours to the fullest.
- Dish out and serve hot sambar with steaming hot idli or vada or steamed rice.
Instant pot sambar
- First, add cleaned and washed toor dal along with 2 cups of water in the inner pot of an IP.
- Switch on the IP, and place the inner pot, close the pot with IP lid with valve in sealing position. Press Manual/Pressure Cook and cook the dal on high pressure for 10 minutes.
- Once the IP beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally. (It will take anywhere between 15-20 minutes)
- Mash the boiled dal using potato masher and transfer it to a bowl. For the next step, either clean the inner pot or use another inner pot if you have it. (I have two steel insert so I quickly proceeded to next step.)
- Switch on the sauté mode and heat oil into it. Add mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds, allow them to crackle for few seconds. Take not to burn them.
- Add curry leaves and red chilies, fry for few seconds. Add hing (asafoetida) and mix.
- Add pearl onions/shallots and sauté for minute.
- Add all the vegetable - eggplant, radish, pumpkin, drumsticks and give it a nice sauté for 30 seconds.
- Then add chopped tomatoes and sauté for another 30 seconds.
- Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and sambar powder and give it a good mix.
- Add the boiled dal, salt and mix. Now add tamarind extract (pulp), chopped coriander leaves and 2-3 cups of water, mix. I have added 2 cups of water here.
- Close the pot again with IP lid and press manual/pressure cook with valve in sealing position, and allow it to cook on low pressure for 3 minutes. (this ensures that vegetables are cooked through along with the spices and dal, and still remains intact).
- Once the IP beeps, allow the pressure to release naturally. Open the pot, dish out and serve steaming hot sambar with idlis, vada, rice or uttapams.
- Standard measuring cups and spoons have been used in this recipe.
- Sambar powder can be increased or decreased as per the taste you like.
- Modify the amount of chilies as per your taste.
- Increase or decrease the amount of tamarind pulp depending upon the tanginess you prefer. You can also use tamarind paste instead of pulp.
- If you want the sambar to be sweetish, consider adding 1-2 teaspoon jaggery to it while cooking.
- Increase or decrease the amount of water as per the consistency of the sambar you desire.
- If you are short of shallots or pearl onions, replace it with regular onions.
I made Sambar follow your recipe. This dish very delicious. Thanks you!
Thank you very much, I am glad you liked it. 🙂
Last night, I made Sambar according to your recipe. It's very delicious. It is true that Indian food has never let me down. I want to said you that I love Indian cuisine and I love your recipes. Thanks Farrukh!