• ½ cup arhar dal (toor dal/ pigeon pea lentils)

  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder (Haldi)

  • 2 cups of water


  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste

  • ½ cup of hot water


  • 2 tbsp ghee (or cooking oil)

  • ½ tsp mustard seeds (rai)

  • 2 dried red chilies, halved and deseeded

  • 12-15 curry leaves

  • ¼ tsp asafoetida (hing)

  • 10 fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)



  • Sambar is a vegetable stew originating in south India. It’s a blend of golden lentils, hearty vegetables, tangy tamarind, and special spices, topped off with tempering. Rice is a usual accompaniment, but you can also enjoy it with idli or vada for breakfast.

  • Soupy, tangy, and nutritious – sambar is tasty as well as easy to make! I’ve divided up the ingredients in the order in which you’ll use them, so I hope that helps.

  • Recipe inspired by Dassana Amit, Veg Recipes of India.

  • Makes about 4 servings.


  1. Rinse the lentils several times until the water appears clear. Place the lentils, 2 cups of water, and turmeric powder in a pressure cooker. Reduce heat after the first whistle, and allow it to cook for another 3-4 whistles. Turn off the heat and keep it aside, allowing the pressure to release naturally.

  2. Mix the tamarind paste with the hot water, and keep this aside.

  3. Take all the chopped vegetables (the 2 cups, as well as tomato and onion) and place them in a deep pan. Add the 3-4 cups of water, turmeric powder, and chilli powder. Stir and let them cook for 10-15 minutes on low-medium heat. We’re looking for the veggies to be cooked yet maintain their firmness.

  4. In the meantime, you can open the pressure cooker and check that the dal is quite well done, and almost mushy.

  5. Once the veggies are cooked, add the dal, tamarind pulp and sambar powder, and stir well. Keep this pot simmering on low heat for another 2-3 minutes, and you’ll find a frothy layer forming on top. Here, you can switch off the heat and cover the pot.

  6. At this stage, we move to prepare the tempering, a spiced, fragrant oil that adds a kick to the sambar. In a small pan, heat up the ghee. Once it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and allow them to crackle.

  7. Then add the dry red chillies, curry leaves, asafetida, and fenugreek seeds. Fry this mix for just under a minute, stirring gently, till the chillies change colour and the curry leaves look crisp.

  8. Immediately pour the tempering mix over the piping hot sambar. Stir and place a lid over the pan for 4-5 minutes, to allow the spices to mix nicely with the sambar.

  9. Serve the sambar hot!


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