Kerala Style Varutharacha Sambar

3.67 from 6 votes

Varutharacha Sambar is a Kerala-style Sambar made using lentils, vegetables, tamarind, and freshly ground coconut masala. Try this traditional recipe at home.

Do try my Mullangi Sambar and Traditional Sambar.

Kerala Style Varutharacha sambar served in a bowl.
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About Varutharacha Sambar

Varutharacha Sambar is a tangy, spicy lentil recipe from Kerala (South India).

Varuthuracha means roasted and ground coconut paste. Kerala Sambar has this freshly ground coconut paste added to it, hence the name.

This recipe is easy to make and uses simple pantry ingredients. It is loaded with amazing flavors, and I assure you that you will be hooked once you sip this lentil curry.

In Kerala households, this sambar is served with steamed rice and a dollop of ghee. It also tastes great with breakfast recipes such as idli, dosa, vada, or uttapam. It is also a must preperation for onam sadya and vishu sadya.

You can cook the lentils in a traditional stovetop pressure cooker or an instant pot. I share both methods in the post below; choose the one that suits you best.

I make this Kerala-style varutharacha sambar recipe in my 3-quart instant pot or 3.5-liter pressure cooker. You can scale the recipe but make it in bigger pots. The cooking time will remain the same.

Ingredients

Kerala style sambar ingredients 1
Kerala style sambar masala ingredients
Kerala sambar tempering ingredients

For The Sambar

Lentils – Like most sambar recipes, this varutharacha sambar recipe uses toor dal (yellow pigeon pea lentils). You can replace tuvar dal with yellow moong dal or pink masoor dal.

Veggies – You can add any vegetable to the Kerala sambar recipe. I have added carrots, drumsticks, potatoes, brinjal, yellow pumpkin, and tomatoes, but you can also add cauliflower, white pumpkin, ladies finger, bottle gourd, snake gourd, French green beans, etc.

This recipe is a great way to use up all the leftover veggies in your fridge.

Tamarind – Tamarind pulp is used to add tanginess to the sambar.

Others – You will also need turmeric powder, water, and salt.

For The Varutharacha Sambar Masala

Kerala Sambar is made using a freshly ground sambar masala paste prepared with coconut oil, Bengal gram (chana dal), split & skinned black lentils (white urad dal), fenugreek seeds (methi dana), whole coriander seeds, dry red chilies, asafetida (hing), onions, curry leaves, and fresh coconut.

Avoid adding asafetida (hing) to make it gluten-free.

For The Tempering (Tadka)

Kerala sambar is tempered with a tadka of coconut oil, brown mustard seeds, dry red chilies, and curry leaves.

How To Make Varitharacha Sambar

Cook The Lentils

In An Instant Pot

Rinse 1 cup toor dal well with water 2-3 times until the water runs clear.

Add the lentils to a 3-quart instant pot along with the following ingredients and stir gently.

  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
Lentils, salt and turmeric added to instant pot.
Water added to the pot.

Close the instant pot lid and set the valve to the sealing position.

Lid closed and valve set to sealing.

Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 10 minutes at high pressure.

Timer set to 10 minutes.

Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.

Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.

Mash the lentils with the back of a ladle.

Note – To cook the lentils in a traditional pressure cooker, pressure cook (in a 3.5-4 liter cooker) for 1 whistle on high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.

Cooked lentils.

Make The Kerala Sambar Masala Paste

While the lentils are cooking, make the sambar masala paste.

Heat 3 tablespoon coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat.

Coconut oil heating in a pan.

Once the oil is hot, stirring frequently, add 2 teaspoon chana dal and 2 teaspoon white urad dal and fry until they turn golden brown.

Chana dal and urad dal added to the pan.

Add the flowing ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes.

  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 5-6 whole dry red chilies (stalks removed)
  • ½ teaspoon asafetida
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 15-20 curry leaves
Fenugreek, mustard, coriander seeds, red chilies, hing, onions and curry leaves added to the pan.

Add ½ cup grated fresh coconut and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Coconut added to the pan.

Remove the pan from heat and let the masala cool to room temperature.

Roasted ingredients in the pan.

Once the masala is cooled, add it to a blender with ½ cup water and blend to make a smooth paste.

Roasted ingredients added to a blender.
Fine sambar paste made.

Make The Sambar

Add the masala paste to the cooked dal in the instant pot and mix well.

Masala paste added to cooked dal.

Add the following veggies to the pot and mix well. Close the lid again.

  • 4 cups of mixed vegetables (I used a mix of carrots, potatoes, brinjal, and yellow pumpkin, cut into ½-inch cubes)
  • drumsticks (cut into 2-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
Veggies and tomatoes added to the cooked dal.
Stirred well.
Lid closed.

Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 3 minutes at high pressure.

Timer set to 2 minutes.

Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.

Cooked sambar.

Stir in 3 tablespoon tamarind pulp.

Adding tamarind pulp to the pot.

Add more water if the sambar is too thick for your liking.

Check for salt and tamarind pulp, and add more if required.

Note – If cooking the sambar in a traditional pressure cooker, then pressure cook for 3 whistles on high heat.

Temper The Sambar

Heat 2 tablespoon coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat.

Oil heating in a pan.

Once the oil is hot, add the following ingredients and fry for 4-5 seconds.

  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 3-4 whole dry red chilies
  • 12-15 curry leaves
Mustard seeds, dry red chilies and curry leaves added to hot oil.

Pour the tempering over the sambhar and mix well.

Serve hot with rice.

Tempering poured over the kerala sambar.
Ready Kerala Style Varutharacha Sambar.

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This Kerala Style Varutharacha Sambar is made using lentils, vegetables, tamarind and a freshly ground coconut masala. Try this traditional recipe at home.
3.67 from 6 votes

Kerala Style Varutharacha Sambar Recipe

This Kerala Sambar (Varutharacha Sambar) is made using lentils, vegetables, tamarind, and a freshly ground coconut masala. Try this traditional recipe at home.
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients 

For The Sambar

  • 1 cup Pigeon peas lentils (toor dal)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
  • 4 cups mixed vegetables (I used a mix of carrots, potatoes, brinjal, and yellow pumpkin, cut into ½-inch cubes. and drumsticks cut into 2-inch pieces.)
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind pulp

For The Sambhar Masala

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons Bengal gram (chana dal)
  • 2 teaspoons split and skinned black lentils (white urad dal)
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
  • 2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds (dhaniya)
  • 5-6 whole dry red chiies
  • ½ teaspoon asafetida (hing) (skip for gluten-free)
  • 1 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 15-20 curry leaves
  • ½ cup grated fresh coconut

For The Tempering

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 3-4 whole dry red chilies
  • 12-15 curry leaves
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Instructions 

Cook The Lentils

  • Rinse the lentils well with water 2-3 times until the water runs clear.
  • Add the lentils to a 3-quart instant pot along with 4 cups of water, salt, and turmeric powder, and stir gently.
  • Close the lid of the instant pot and set the valve to the sealing position.
  • Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 10 minutes at high pressure.
  • Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
  • Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.
  • Mash the lentils with the back of a ladle.
  • Note – To cook the lentils in a traditional pressure cooker, pressure cook (in a 3.5-4 liters cooker) for 1 whistle on high heat. Then reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.

Make The Sambar Masala Paste

  • While the lentils are cooking, make the sambar masala paste.
  • Heat coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, add chana dal and urad dal and fry till they turn golden brown, stirring frequently.
  • Add fenugreek seeds, whole coriander, seeds, dry red chilies, asafetida, onions, and curry leaves, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add coconut and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from heat and let the masala cool to room temperature.
  • Once the masala is cooled, add it to a blender with ½ cup water and blend to make a smooth paste.

Make The Sambar

  • Add the masala paste to the cooked dal in the instant pot and mix well.
  • Add the vegetables and tomatoes to the pot and close the lid again.
  • Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 3 minutes.
  • Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
  • Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.
  • Stir in the tamarind pulp.
  • Add more water if the sambar is thick for your liking.
  • Check for salt and tamarind pulp and add more if required.
  • Note – If cooking the sambar in a traditional pressure cooker, then pressure cook for 3 whistles on high heat.

Temper The Sambar

  • Heat coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, dry red chilies, and curry leaves and fry for 4-5 seconds.
  • Pour the tempering over the sambhar and mix well
  • Serve hot with rice.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

You can replace tuvar dal with yellow moong dal or pink masoor dal also.
You can add any vegetable of your choice to the Kerala sambar recipe. I have added carrots, drumsticks, potatoes, brinjal, pumpkin, and tomatoes, but you can also add cauliflower, bottle gourd, french green beans, etc.
Avoid adding asafetida (hing) to make it gluten-free.

Nutrition

Calories: 426kcal, Carbohydrates: 57g, Protein: 16g, Fat: 18g, Saturated Fat: 14g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 82mg, Potassium: 1048mg, Fiber: 20g, Sugar: 12g, Vitamin A: 7269IU, Vitamin C: 218mg, Calcium: 117mg, Iron: 6mg
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1 Comment

  1. 5 stars
    Fantastic….. since a long time was wanting to make sambhar Kerala style….since I have a Kerala connection, and being a gujju i’am a foodie to the core. Thank you very much for the recipe. 🙏🙏….. and by the way we are from the same profession……. except that i’am a dental technician.