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close up shot of vegetable sambar dal in wooden bowl.
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4.37 from 19 votes

Sambar Recipe

A delicious traditional South Indian lentil (dal) and mix vegetable stew made using special spice powder known as Sambar Masala. Typically served with idlis, vada, dosa, uttapams and goes best with steamed rice.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan
Servings: 8
Calories: 170kcal
Author: Farrukh Aziz


  • 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.


Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 20mg | Potassium: 388mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 900IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg