By Food E Fare

Sambar is a flavorful and nutritious South Indian stew made with lentils, vegetables, tamarind, and a blend of aromatic spices. It is typically served with rice, idli, dosa, or vada. Here's a basic recipe for making sambar:


For Sambar Masala:

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon chana dal (split Bengal gram)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 3-4 dried red chilies (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut (fresh or desiccated)

For Sambar:

  • 1 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas), washed and soaked
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables (carrots, drumsticks, pumpkin, brinjal/eggplant, okra), chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Small lemon-sized tamarind, soaked in water
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 tablespoon sambar powder (optional)
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish

For Tempering (Tadka):

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1-2 dried red chilies
  • A few curry leaves


Prepare Sambar Masala:

  • Dry roast coriander seeds, chana dal, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds, and dried red chilies in a pan until they are aromatic.
  • Add grated coconut and roast for another 2 minutes.
  • Allow the mixture to cool and grind it into a fine powder. Keep the sambar masala aside.

Cook Toor Dal:

  • Cook the soaked toor dal with turmeric powder until it is soft and mushy. You can use a pressure cooker for this.

Soak Tamarind:

  • Soak tamarind in water and extract its juice. Discard the pulp.

Cook Vegetables:

  • In a large pot, cook the mixed vegetables with salt until they are tender.

Add Tamarind Extract:

  • Add the tamarind extract to the cooked vegetables and bring it to a boil.

Add Toor Dal:

  • Add the cooked toor dal to the tamarind and vegetable mixture. Mix well.

Add Sambar Masala:

  • Add the prepared sambar masala, red chili powder, asafoetida, and sambar powder (if using). Stir well.

Adjust Consistency:

  • Adjust the consistency by adding water if needed. Bring the sambar to a gentle simmer.


  • In a small pan, heat oil for tempering. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chilies, and curry leaves. Allow them to splutter.

Add Tempering to Sambar:

  • Pour the tempering over the sambar and mix well.


  • Garnish the sambar with fresh coriander leaves.


  • Serve hot sambar with rice, idli, dosa, or vada.


Sambar is a versatile dish, and the choice of vegetables can be adjusted according to personal preference. The addition of freshly ground sambar masala enhances the flavor of the dish. Enjoy this delicious and comforting South Indian staple!

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