Thursday 22 March 2012

Sambar | Lentil Vegetable stew | Vegetable Sambar - Using Pressure Cooker)

Sambar is a basic and traditional Indian dish / curry which is made using different vegetables and Toor dal/Lentil dal. It is served with hot rice, idly, dosa, vada, uthappam etc. Sambar is the most staple curry you can find in any South Indian home. Different vegetables like, carrot, drumstick, radish, brinjal, lady's finger can be used to make this lentil curry. Also different types of sambar are available like, Vendakka (lady's finger/okra) sambar, Kathrikai (brinjal) sambar, Mullangi (radish) Sambar, Vengaya (onion) sambar. Either you can add all the vegetables in the same sambar or just a single vegetable will be enough to prepare sambar. Sambar can be prepared using a normal pan or pressure cooker, but here I have discussed the pressure cooker method, the most easiest method. Lentils/Toor dal are rich in proteins and vegetables also have a lot of nutritional value in them!! Lets see how to make Sambar, a delicious and nutritious South Indian Food recipe.


Serves 2 to 3 people
Total Preparation Time - 30 minutes
  1. Lentils/Toor dal/Split pigeon peas - 1 cup
  2. Big onions - 1
  3. Carrot - 1
  4. Radish - 1
  5. Drumstick - 1
  6. Raw mango - Half of a raw mango (optional)
  7. Sambar powder - 1 spoon (If you don't have sambar see Tip 1 below preparation method)
  8. Red chilli powder - 1 spoon
  9. Tamarind - 1/2 inch size ball
  10. Coriander leaves - A handful
  11. Curry leaves - optional
  12. Turmeric powder - A pinch
  13. Mustard seeds - 1/2 spoon
  14. Fenugreek/Methi seeds - 1/4 spoon
  15. Salt
  16. Oil


  • Wash, Chop vegetables and keep aside
  • Soak tamarind in water, after 10 minutes mash it well using fingers and extract the juice from it, keep aside.
  • Cook the lentils using any of the following methods;
      • In a pressure cooker add dhal, salt, turmeric powder, 2 cups of water and pressure cook dhal for 7 minutes in medium flame, keep aside. (OR)
      • Just add the lentils, turmeric powder, salt and water in a pan and boil for 10 - 12 minutes (or until it gets cooked well) and keep aside.
  • In a pan add oil, splutter mustard seeds, then add fenugreek seeds, curry leaves and saute. 
  • Then add all the chopped vegetables, coriander leaves, red chilli powder, sambar powder, and saute on low flame. The veggies should not be cooked too much, just a saute will do. 
  • Make sambar using any of the following methods;
      • Now add the cooked dal, vegetables and tamarind juice in a pressure cooker stir well, add salt if necessary and a cup of water and pressure cook for another 5 minutes. this is to let the vegetables get cooked. (OR)
      • Add the dal to the half-cooked vegetables, add water if necessary and tamarind juice and boil well for another 7 to 10 minutes until the veggies gets cooked. 
  • After it is done serve with boiled/steamed rice!!!

TIP 1: If you don't have sambar powder you can use the following;
    • Red chilli powder - 2 spoons
    • Coriander/Dhania powder - 2 spoons
Add them instead of sambar powder and add extra coriander leaves it will give a good smell and flavor.

TIP 2: To increase the aroma you can add the following;

    • Grind the following ingredients together and add to sambar to make it more delicious and aromatic;
        • Coconut - 1 inch long piece. (or) Grated coconut - 1 spoon
        • Jaggery/Vellam - A small piece
TIP 3: You can also use small onions to the sambar.

TIP 4: You can also add a single vegetable like radish alone and make radish sambar and similarly make other vegetable sambar also.

Tip 5: Raw mango adds extra tangy taste, and aroma. But it is optional. You can opt for making it watery or thick buy adjusting the addition of water. 

Delicious, South Indian Sambar is now ready!!!! Serve with hot Idly, Dosa and Rice!!!! Dosa/Idly + Sambar + Chutney makes a delicious breakfast for the South Indians. It holds the top place in Indian hotel menus!!
The best side-dishes for sambar are prawn fry, fish fry, papads, pickle, chicken masala, brinjal masala, chicken fry, potato masala,cauliflower fry etc.

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