Tangy and Spicy Sambar is a South Indian staple dish that is served for all the meals including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is a stew of yellow lentils with vegetables and spices added to it. Here is my easy recipe to make it at home.
About This Recipe
Samber is a scrumptious combination of Tuvar dal and a bunch of vegetables which is nicely flavored with the sambar masala and other spice powders.
This protein packed soup is a staple in South Indian homes and no meal is complete without a huge serving it.
It is also infused with some tamarind paste, which not only provides it with an amazing tangy flavor but also enhances the overall taste.
Moreover, because we include a lot of boiled vegetables in it, it is also loaded with all the essential nutrients that our body needs on a daily basis.
The overall nutrient factor of Sambhar also depends upon your choice of vegetables.
Every household has its own recipe for making this scrumptious lentil stew. Some like to have big chunks of vegetables, while some prefer to have smaller ones.
Some like theirs to be of a thick consistency, while others like it to be more on a liquidy side. Some people like to have mashed dal while some don’t.
Tuvar Dal – Every South Indian home uses Tuvar Dal to make this delicious and traditional dish. You can even add a little Masoor Dal to the same.
Vegetables – This Sambar is loaded with the goodness of vegetables. Here, I have used pearl onions, drumstick, carrot, eggplant and yellow pumpkin, but you can go ahead and add any vegetables of your choice.
This dish is also a great way to use up all the leftover vegetables in the fridge.
Tamarind Paste – This ingredient is a must and adds a delicious hint of tanginess to this soup. If you are out of tamarind, you can substitute it with lemon juice.
Sambar Powder – This lentil stew only uses Sambar Powder when it comes to dry spice powders, which is made by roasting and grinding a few whole spices. You can use a homemade powder or store-bought one.
I always use Homemade Powder, as it tastes the best and adds a delicious flavor to the Sambar which the store-bought powder lacks.
Other Ingredients – Other than the above ingredients, you will need turmeric powder, salt, curry leaves, dry red chillies, oil, mustard seeds, onion and tomato.
Step by Step Recipe
Wash the dal and add it in a pressure cooker along with 2 cups of water, salt, and turmeric powder.
Cook until the dal is softened. Add tamarind paste and mix well.
Add all the vegetables along with water, salt and turmeric powder in a pan.
Cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are softened.
Do not overcook the vegetables otherwise they will become mushy. You can cook the vegetables a pressure cooker as well. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a pan.
Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, dry red chillies and curry leaves and let them crackle for a few seconds.
Add onion and fry until they turn translucent.
Add tomatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes until their are mushy and everything comes together.
Now add sambar powder and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add some water if the tempering is too dry.
Add the cooked dal and veggies in this pan and mix everything well.
Now add more water to adjust the consistency. Cook it for 10-12 minutes on medium-low heat.
Heat oil in a pan.
Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, red chillies, and curry leaves and let them crackle for a few seconds.
Pour the tempering over the sambar and serve hot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Tuvar Dal is used in all South Indian homes to make Sambar.
Tuvar Dal is also known by the name of Arhar Dal, Toor Dal, or Split Pigeon Peas. Some homes, even mix moong dal with arhar dal to make it.
But mostly in the tiffin centers and restaurants, you will see that it is made with the combination of Tuvar Dal and Masoor Dal.
I sometimes use dhuli moong dal to make it as well.
It is a blend of various aromatic spices such as coriander seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chillies, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, chana dal, urad dal, curry leaves, mustard seeds, asafoetida, and turmeric powder.
All these spices are dry roasted one by one and then ground into a fine powder.
It is easily available in all the grocery stores, but you can also make it at home. Check out my Sambar Powder recipe and make a big batch at home.
Although you can make a big batch and keep using it, nothing can beat the taste of the sambar when we use some freshly ground powder in its preparation.
To make this powder for one-time usage, you need one tablespoon each of chana dal, urad dal, and coriander seeds. Half teaspoon each of cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, asafoetida and mustard seeds along with two dry red chilies and few curry leaves.
Dry roast all the spices one by one and grind them into a fine powder.
Now use this entire powder to make one batch of sambar.
Yes, it is one of the healthiest dishes in South Indian cuisine, as it is made with Tuvar Dal which is high in protein, fibre and also provides other necessary nutrients to the body.
A mild version of the same is also given to kids and babies, for their overall growth.
Carrots, eggplant, drumsticks, yellow pumpkin, shallots, radish, tomatoes, okra, bottle gourd, and french beans are some of the vegetables which are traditionally added in the sambar.
You can always choose a combination of vegetables as per your taste and preferences as well.
It goes really well with hot idli, dosa, medu vada, uttapam, or with steamed or boiled rice by its side.
If you wish you can also serve it along with soft chapatis as well.
Sambar with a thin consistency is served with idli, dosa, and vada, whereas a slightly thicker version is served with steamed or boiled rice.
If you have leftovers, you can store it in the fridge for a couple of days in an airtight container. If you make extra, don’t temper the entire sambar.
Just temper the amount you will consume it, otherwise store it in the fridge. The time you want to serve it again, heat it well and temper it fresh.
Now the types of sambar are categorized as per the state in which it is made.
Sambar made in Tamil Nadu use sesame oil in its preparation, while the people in Kerala add coconut powder or coconut paste.
But when we move towards Karnataka, a bit of jaggery is added in it to give it a nice sweet taste.
Vengaya and Mullangi Sambar are quite popular in Tamil Nadu.
Arachuvitta and Kerala style Varutharacha Sambar are two of the most popular Kerala Style recipes, but, when it comes to Karnataka, Mysore and Udupi Style Sambar are absolutely loved by all.
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For the Dal
- 1/2 cup Tuvar Dal
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 tbsp Tamarind Paste
For the vegetables
- 10-12 Shallots
- 1/2 cup Eggplant (Cubed)
- 1/2 cup Carrot (Cubed)
- 1 Drumstick (Cut into 2 inch pieces)
- 1/2 cup Yellow Pumpkin (Peeled and cubed)
- 1 cup Water
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
For the masala
- 3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
- 3-4 Dry Red Chillies
- 15-20 Curry Leaves
- 1/2 cup Onion (Finely chopped)
- 1 cup Tomato (Finely chopped)
- 2 tbsp Sambar Powder
For the tempering
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 tbsp Mustard Seeds
- 2-3 Dry Red Chillies
- 10-12 Curry Leaves
For the dal
- Wash the dal and add it in a pressure cooker along with 2 cups of water, salt and turmeric powder.
- Cook the dal until it is softened.
- Remove the pressure cooker from heat and let the pressure release.
- Remove the lid of the cooker.
- Add tamarind paste in the dal and whisk until smooth and keep aside.
For the vegetables
- Add all the vegetables along with water, salt and turmeric powder in a pan.
- Cover the pan and cook until the vegetables are softened.
- Do not over cook the vegetables otherwise they will become mushy.
- You can cook the vegetables in a pressure cooker as well.
- Keep aside.
For the masala
- Heat oil in a pan.
- Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, dry red chillies and curry leaves and let them crackle for a few seconds.
- Add onion and fry until they turn translucent.
- Add tomatoes and cook for 4-5 minutes until their are mushy and everything comes together.
- Now add sambar powder and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add some water if the tempering is too dry.
- Add the cooked dal and veggies in this pan and mix everything well.
- Now add more water to adjust the consistency of sambar.
- Cook the sambar for 10-12 minutes on medium low heat.
- Heat oil in a pan.
- Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves and let them crackle for a few seconds.
- Pour the tempering over the sambar and serve hot.