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[Back to Basics] Sambar Recipe

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SAMBAR 

Sambar is a lentil-based vegetable stew, cooked with red gram and tamarind broth. It is a dish of great prominence in the South Indian cuisine. Sambar is an easy, tasty and quick side dish for idli, vada, dosa or rice. This is just like the one served at Tiffin Centers and restaurants.

It is one of the most commonly cooked dishes in the South Indian household, which has managed to make a place in the hearts of people around the world. Personally, sambar is one of my most favorite dishes. My mother used to cook sambar mostly when she made idlis, but I would include sambar in the three meals of the day. In the morning, when it is freshly made and piping hot, I would add a few drops of ghee to it and have it with idli (this one you should definitely try, as the ghee gives the already tasty sambar a unique flavor).

In the afternoon, I would have it with steaming hot rice and pappadam. As it is made primarily from red gram and tamarind juice, it stays fresh and tasty even till night and we can have it with rice or idly at night.

There are several other serving suggestions like you can have it with dosa, vada, idiyappam or you can even sip it from a bowl (like a soup). The last suggestion seemed a bit confusing right…but it is a common habit in South India and my favorite serving suggestion too.

There are many variants based on different regions like the Tamil sambar, Udupi sambar, chaaru, etc. Here I am going to describe the procedure for the plain hotel style sambar.

Every household has its own recipe for making this scrumptious lentil stew. Here are the key ingredients required some notes.

Lentil (dal): Lentils form the base. It’s made with toor dal (split pigeon peas lentil) I have used the best quality organic Toor dal by Bloom Organic Bazaar. You can cook the dal either in a stove top pressure cooker or Instant Pot.

Sambar powder: The taste of the sambar depends heavily on the sambar powder which is a spice mix made by grinding several spices. Use your favorite brand of sambar powder or make one at home.

Tamarind & Jaggery: These ingredients add the little tartness & sweetness to the sambar respectively. Again, here I have used the organic jaggery available at bloomorganicbazaar.com.

Other Ingredients – Other than the above ingredients, you will need turmeric powder, chili powder, salt, curry leaves, dry red chilies, oil, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, green chilies, onion, and tomato. I have used all the spices by bloomorganicbazaar.com.

Fresh curry leaves - I love them as they are very aromatic and deliver a nice flavor in the Sambar.

Note: The consistency can be adjusted to preference. This particular sambar should be on the thinner side.

 

Full Ingredient List

1. Toor Dal (split yellow pigeon peas) - 1/4 cup 
2. Turmeric - 1/8 tsp + 1/8 tsp
3. Salt to taste
4. Water - 1 cup
5. Oil - 2 tbsp
6.  Fenugreek seeds - 1/8 tsp
7. Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
8. Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
9.  Curry leaves - few
10. Red chilies - 2
11. Onion - 1 medium sized (diced)
12. Tomato- 2 medium sized (diced)
13. Green chilies - 2
14. Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
15. Tamarind juice (soak gooseberry sized ball of tamarind) - 2 tbsp (adjust according to taste)
16. Water - 3 cups
17. Sambar powder - 3 tbsp ( adjust according to spice level preferred)
18. Jaggery - a small 1 inch piece or 1 tsp
19. Coriander - a few sprigs (chopped)

Directions

STEP 1: How to pressure cook dal

1. Rinse 1/4 cup toor dal, changing water several times until water runs clear. 
2.  Put rinsed dal into a pressure cooker and add 1 cup water, 1/8 tsp turmeric and salt to taste.
3. Pressure cook the dal for 4-5 whistles or until dal is soft.
4.  Once the pressure settles down, open the cooker. Mash the dal and keep aside. (Use a hand blender or traditional way to mash dal).

STEP 2: Let's make Sambar.

1.  In a heavy bottom kadai (or keep the cooked mashed dal aside and use the same pressure cooker.) add 2 tbsp oil. 
2. Once the oil is hot, add 1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp mustard seeds. 
3. Once they splutter add a few curry leaves and 2 red chilies. 
4. Now add diced onion and cook until the onion softens. 
5. Then add diced tomato, salt to taste and cook until tomato completely melts and sort of disappears.( Meaning no firm pieces of tomato should be there). 
6. Add 1/8 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 2 green chilies and cook for another 5 minutes on medium flame. Stir it at regular intervals. 
7. Now add pressure cooked dal, 2 tbsp tamarind juice(or as per taste), and mix well.
 
8. Add 3 cups of water. 
9. Now add 3 tbsp of Sambar powder and stir well. Cover and let it cook on medium flame for 10 minutes. 
10. After 10 minutes open the lid and adjust the taste. ( If needed, adjust salt and tamarind juice etc). 
11. Now add a small 1 inch piece or a tsp of jaggery(or as per taste) and mix well. 
12. Add chopped coriander leaves and let it cook for another 3 minutes on medium flame. 
The Sambar is ready. Serve the sambar hot with idli, vada, dosa or rice. 

The bloomorganicbazaar.com products used in this recipe are:
Bloom Organic Toor Dal
Bloom Organic Turmeric Powder
Bloom Organic Red Chili Powder
Bloom Organic Fenugreek Seeds
Bloom Organic Cumin Whole
Bloom Organic Mustard Seeds
Lunn Desert Salt Pouch
Bloom Organic Jaggery

About the Contributor

 
This recipe is contributed by Syed Asma Sayeeda from The Crafts And Kitchen. She is a person with an eye for healthy recipes and tasty dishes. Her Instagram page and YouTube channel are fantastic places where you can find recipes that create magic in the kitchen. She loves organic products and the role that they play in leading a healthy lifestyle.
 
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