Sambar, a South Indian lentil-based vegetable stew, consumed with boiled rice or fermented rice Idlis, Dosa (rice pancake) is a complete dish in itself. Sambar is high in protein, full of fibers, with antioxidant punch, easy to digest, and great for weight loss.

Sambar has different versions in southern states. Few add jaggery to it, few add dry coconut to it, few make it without onions and garlic, few add okras to it and few add different vegetables. Sambar masala powder also changes from region to region. Steps of making Sambar also changes region to region as adding vegetables first and then spices or vice-versa changes everything in taste.

My husband spent many years in South India and his love for South Indian food is boundless. He says, if you do not like South Indian food then your taste buds are spoiled. I got the chance to spent few month in Mangaluru, Karnataka and my perception about South Indian food changed entirely. In my opinion, South Indian food you get in other parts of India is not the authentic taste. I would say, visit South India and you will know the difference. My husband learnt the Sambar from his friend who belongs to Tamilnadu, a Southern state and I would like to share the same recipe with you.

Health Benefits

  • Sambar is made of pulses. Pulses are good source of vegetarian protein.
  • Sambar includes variety of vegetables which are rich in fibers and anti-oxidants. Fiber takes longest to digest and they induce the feeling of fullness and prevent you from eating fattening foods.
  • Pulse based stew is high in vitamins and minerals iron, zinc, folate and magnesium.
  • Tamarind extract, turmeric powder, curry leaves, red pepper and mustard seeds are good for digestion, high immunity and weight loss.


  • 2 tablespoon oil/ghee/coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard seeds (Rai)
  • 1 Sprig Curry leaves
  • 8-10 baby Onions (peeled and slit in half)
  • 1 medium size Onion (chopped)
  • 2 medium size Tomato (chopped)
  • 3 Drumsticks (cut and peeled – 1.5 inch pieces)
  • 1 Yellow Cucumber or bottle guard (medium size chunks)
  • 1 medium size Eggplant (medium size chunks) (Optional)
  • 1/4 -1/2 cup french beans (chopped)
  • 2-3 green Chilies (slit in half)
  • 2 dry red whole chili
  • 2 teaspoon Urad Dal
  • 1 teaspoon Chana Dal
  • 2 tablespoon Ginger julienne
  • A pinch of Asafoetida (Heeng)
  • 1/2 cup Carrots (julienne)
  • 3-4 tablespoon Sambar masala (Homemade/Store bought)
  • 3/4 cup Toor dal (Yellow Dal)
  • 1.5 tablespoon Tamarind paste
  • Salt to taste


1. Cut all the vegetables and and prepare everything.

2. Add drumsticks, french beans, yellow cucumber/bottle guard, carrots in hot water and boil the vegetables for about 8-10 minutes. Vegetables should be around 80% cooked. Strain the vegetables and save the strained vegetable water in a separate bowl as we would be using it later. After all we do not want to waste any vitamin or protein released from vegetables.

3. Pressure cook Toor/Arhar/Yellow Dal for 5-6 whistles on medium flame. It should get cooked properly. Do not worry about the mushiness of it, even if it becomes mushy, it will not affect your Sambar flavor or texture of it.

Yellow Dal


  1. Put a deep pan or kadhai on medium flame. Add oil and when it is hot then add mustard seeds and wait for it to splutter.
  2. Add Urad dal, chana dal, slit green chilis, asafoetida, and curry leaves and cook it for another 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add baby onions and chopped onions along with red whole chilis and ginger juliennes and sauté till onions are translucent. Baby onions might not become translucent as quickly as chopped onions but this is on purpose to get good taste of baby onions while consuming it at the end.
  4. Add chopped tomatoes to it and add salt as required and cook it till raw smell of tomato goes away.
  5. Add Sambar masala to it and cook it for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the strained vegetables along with boiled Dal and cook it for 10 minutes. This step is very crucial where vegetables will start absorbing spices. Do not add anything before 10 minutes.
  7. Add vegetable stock and tamarind paste to it. Finally you have reached at the end of it where you need to put it on simmer and leave it for 30 minutes to elevate the overall flavor.
  8. Sambar is ready and you can server it using Idlis or Dosa (rice pancake).

Additional Tips & Tricks

  • Few people add potatoes to Sambar which are strictly no as potatoes are not for Sambar and it will spoil the Sambar taste.
  • Best Sambar masala is homemade one as store bought one is not having enough flavors to it. Follow my Sambar masala recipe which you can make at home and store for long duration and enjoy authentic Sambar at home.
  • Tamarind paste, if added in the starting then it might stop cooking process of the vegetables due to which we have added at the end before putting it on simmer for 30 minutes. 30 minutes would be more than enough to induce the tamarind flavor to it.
  • Simmer time can be increased to 45 minutes. More you simmer, more flavor you will get.

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