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Sambar is a popular south Indian stew or chowder made with lentils (dal) and tamarind (Check tamarind date chutney) pulp. It is one of the popular soup (Check other soups) like dish which is loaded with vegetables and a masala(spice powder).

Sambar originated in southern part of India is popular on the menu with various combinations. It is versatile and can be served with rice, idli (recipe in link), uttapam (Recipe in link), dosa , vadai or some other tiffin meals.

Sambars are prepared in various styles and ways. Every house will have a different sambar and its different preparation. I popularly make a sambar out of bottle gourd (Check dudhi muthiya), drumsticks and tomatoes, onions with a sambar spice powder made by my mom.

Sambar masala is a powder made by roasting lentils along with red chillies, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, pepper, cloves etc. Some other variations may include pepper, coconut, etc.

Here you can use any variety of sambar masala. It is easily available in any of the Asian Indian stores. I used the one from my mother.
Let’s check the recipe in detail.


Cuisine South IndianCourseMain
Serves5-6 servingsAuthorRasika


  • 3/4 cup toor Dal (Pigeon peas)
  • 1/4 cup moong Dal (Yellow split lentils)
  • 2 tbsp masoor Dal (orange) optional (Red lentils)
  • Wash these dals (Lentils) and keep allow them to cook in a pressure cooker. While cooking add a piece of ginger a few cut onions and tomatoes and a pinch of turmeric to it.
  • Cook them well and blend it with a hand blender/immersion blender.

For tempering

  • Chop a few vegetables of your choice like shallots/long cut onions, tomatoes, bottle gourd, drumsticks, carrots,potatoes etc…
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal (Split black gram lentils)
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal (Split chickpeas)
  • 1/2 teaspoon methi (fenugreek seeds)
  • Curry leaves
  • Dried red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind/ pulp
  • 1 teaspoon jaggery
  • 2 tablespoon sambar masala powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • Salt as per taste

The Sambar

  1. Heat oil in a pan.
  2. Add 1 tsp of urad Dal and chana Dal to roast it golden brown, crack mustard seeds, Curry leaves.
  3. Now add the vegetables one by one Saute onion/shallots, then tomatoes and the the rest of the veggies and allow them to cook a bit with a lid. (refer notes)
  4. Now add 1-2 tbsp of sambar masala(easily available in market) , 1 tsp red chilli powder and coriander powder give it a stir.
  1. Now add the cooked and blended lentils to it. Add salt as per taste. Add a little water and give it a good boil.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of tamarind and 1 tablespoon jaggery when boiling. Cook the sambar on low medium flame until the vegetables are well cooked.
  3. Garnish with coriander.

Instant Pot Sambar

*Use soaked lentils, do not cook before adding in instant pot unlike we did for stove top*

  1. Set the Instant Pot on saute mode.
  2. Crack mustard, cumin seeds, curry leaves.
  3. Roast urad dal and chana day till it turns golden.
  4. Now saute onions until translucent. Add ginger garlic paste and saute until aromatic.
  5. Now add the tomatoes and cook until a minute. Now add the rest of the veggies. I added drumstick, bottle gourd and a few diced potatoes. Saute and allow them to cook for a minute.
  6. Now add the soaked lentils to it and add about 1.5 cups of water and salt as per taste.
  7. Set the instant pot to manual or pressure cook for about 8-10 minutes.
  8. Pressure release naturally upon done and it’s done.
  9. Now add tamarind pulp and jaggery(optional)to it and allow to to cook upto 1-2 boils.
  10. This sambar is now ready to serve.


  • You can skip Red lentil (Masoor dal) if you want.
  • Veggies can be any even okra, brinjal, carrots, radish or some add even leafy to it.
  • Everest and MTR sambar masalas are popular brands and taste good.
  • For Instant pot do not pre cook lentils, use directly after soaking.
  • Add tamarind pulp in the end and boil the sambar for about couple of minutes.
  • This sambar is ready to serve with piping hot idlis, uttapams, vadas, dosas or you can indulge it with rice too.


Sambar is a mix of lentils with are rich in protein and minerals.

The vegetables in it makes it nutritious and rich in fibres and vitamins. Its a healthy and a nourished food one can have.

Check out our other recipes on the blog

  1. Coriander Chutney
  2. Tamarind dates chutney
  3. Idli
  4. Sambar
  5. Mini Uttapam

If you like and try this recipe do write reviews in the comment section below.

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