South Indian Sambar with lentils and vegetables
A deliciously thick lentil and veggie stew with spices and curry leaves
Servings Prep Time
4people 10mins
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
4people 10mins
Cook Time
  • 2medium onionscubed
  • 2medium tomatoesquartered
  • 1 green chillislit
  • 1medium aubergine/small brinjalscubed – Optional
  • 3-4 okraslit – Optional
  • 100gm red pumpkincubed – Optional
For the Sambar powder
  • 1tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1tbsp skinned split bengal gram or Chana Dal
  • 1tbsp skinned split black bengal gram or Urad dal
  • 1/2tbsp cumin seeds
  • 4-5 dried red chillies
  • 1/4tsp fenugreek seeds or methi seeds
For the Sambar
  • 3/4cup moong dal. or toor dal
  • 1tsp turmeric powder
  • 1lemon sized ball tamarind
  • Handful coriander leaveschopped
  • Salt to taste
For the Tempering
  • 2tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
  • 4-5 curry leavesfresh or dried
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1tsp mustard seeds
  • 1tsp fenugreek seedsOptional
  • 1-2 dried red chillies
  • 1tsp asafoetida or hing
Recipe Notes

For the Sambar powder

  1. Dry roast the red chillies, urad dal and chana dal until crisp. Set aside and cool.
  2. Now separately dry roast the coriander seeds until they are aromatic. Set aside and cool.
  3. Now dry roast the fenugreek seeds, set aside and cool. Then dry roast the cumin seeds and set aside.
  4. Once all the ingredients have cooled, grind them. Store in an airtight container until you use.

For the Sambar

  1. Wash the dal in water three times until the water is clear. 
  2. In a deep bottomed pan, put two cups of water to the dal add turmeric and asafoetida, and cook on a medium flame until the lentils are cooked and can be swished easily.
  3. Use a masher to mash the dal. Season the dal

For the veggies and the dal

  1. In a large pot, add 4 cups of water, the chopped onions, split green chilli and tomatoes.
  2. If you’d like to use aubergines, then first sauté them in a pan with 1 tbsp of oil. Same with the okra and red pumpkin. Once sautéed, add these to the pot of water with the rest of the veggies.
  3. Let the veggies all cook, they should still hold their shape though.
  4. Once the vegetables have fully cooked, add in the mushy dal to the veggies and mix.
  5. Add turmeric, sambar powder and season with salt.
  6. In a bowl, make the tamarind pulp by adding some hot water from the veggies to the tamarind. Let it sit for about 10 minutes and squeeze the tamarind so that a nice brownish thick pulp forms.
  7. Add this pulp to the dal and veggies and stir to combine.
  8. Adjust the consistency by adding extra hot water if required and season well. 

For the tempering:

  1. In a saucepan, heat oil or ghee.
  2. When the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, chana dal and urad dal. Sauté till aromatic and the dal turning golden.
  3. Now add to this the curry leaves, asafoetida and halved dried red chillies.
  4. Roast all the ingredients until the curry leaves turn crisp and then add this tempering to the simmering dal.
  5. Add a couple of teaspoons of the simmering dal into the saucepan, to soak up all the tempering flavours from the saucepan. Toss back all the dal back into the deep dal pan.

Final steps:

  1. Once the tempering has been added to the sambar, stir everything together.
  2. Season well and check consistency of the sambar.
  3. Turn off the heat and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.
  4. Serve alongside Dosas and chutney or with rice.