Mar 8, 2008

Recipe - Sambar

(Pigeon Peas cooked with vegetables)


Sambar is part of a nutritious meal as it includes all the components of a balanced meal. It can be eaten as a side dish with rice/idli/dosa/vada and many more items/snacks. It is very suitable for those who want to cook a single side item with rice. Very popular among young couples and busy professionals as it can be cooked relatively quickly.

Sambar is very popular in South India. Each state, for that matter every household, in southern India cooks sambar with variations. For example, a small amount of sugar or jaggery is added for sweetness. Others add coconut for flavor.


  • Sambar powder - 2 teaspoons
  • Toor dal - one cup
  • Onion - 1/2 cup (pearl onions 8 -10)
  • Tomato - 1 cup
  • Carrots - 1/2 cup
  • Vegetables - as per your taste and liking.
  • Green beans - 1/2 cup
  • Okra - 1/2 cup
  • Green chillies - 1 serrano pepper (2 -3 small Indian green chillies)
  • Tamarind - 1 small lemon size ( 5- 6 small dry tamarind twigs or 1 teaspoon tamarind paste)
  • Sugar/jaggery - 1 teaspoon
  • Turmeric - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Salt - 1 teaspoon
  • Red chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)

For seasonsing:

  • Ghee - 1 table spoon
  • Mastard seeds - 1 teaspoon
  • Cumin seeds - 1 teaspoon
  • Dry red chillies - 2
  • Asafoetida - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves - 2 stalks

Preparation for cooking dal and vegetables:

Wash toor dal well, pressure cook dal with 3 cups of water, cut tomatoes, green chillies and salt and turmeric for one whistle. Some people prefer to add all the vegetables to the dal and pressure cook it. You can do that if you are in a hurry or would like to cook all in one go and make it an easy preparation in one step.

Preparation for vegetables if you are not cooking with dal:

Cut vegetables to one inch size. It is good not to cut them tiny else they will get mushy. Cook vegetables except onion in a separate pot or pressure cook it for one whistle. Remember to release the pressure in 2 or 3 minutes after you turn off the stove. Don't wait till the pressure is released otherwise the vegetables will be very mushy.


Preheat the saucepan/pot with ghee on medium high temperature. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds to ghee and let seeds splutter. Add red chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida to it.

After a minute add onions to the seasoning and sautee it for couple of minutes or little brown. Start adding all the above cooked ingredients to the seasoning. starting with vegetables and tamarind pulp.

Let the vegetables and tamarind pulp cook for 5 minutes.

Now add cooked dal and sambar powder and stir it well. Add 2 -3 cups of water to bring it to your desired consistency. Add sugar/jaggery. Turn the temperature down to medium low and let it cook for 15 minutes. This allows all the spices to blend well with sambar.

If you pressure cooked all the ingredients in one step, then add the seasoning, tamarind paste/pulp and sambar powder and boil it for 15 - 20 minutes.

Preparation time: 20 - 30minutes

# Servings 4- 6


  • Sambar powder preparation: Refer to Masala's/Chutney Powder's
  • For those who are watching their diet, you can try different types of oil for the seasonings. For example, sesame oil seasoning is very tasty and helpful for colder climates.
  • For Tamarind pulp: Take 5 small stalks of tamarind add half cup of water and microwave it for 2- 3 minutes. the water will decrease to 1/4 cup. Let it cool and then mash the tamarind pulp with a spoon and filter it.

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Some of the recipes presented here are originally inspired by others. Credit is given to the original postings. I have listed recipes here for my own reference as well as pictures are my addition to the whole cooking experience. Enjoy.