Sambhar is a spicy soup that originated in Tamil Nadu, India. The primary ingredients are coconut milk, tamarind paste or extract, and chopped shallots. It’s typically cooked with lentils as its base along with vegetables like onion, garlic, ginger root and tomato to give it flavor flare. This popular Indian dish can be served hot or cold depending on the preference of the person cooking it.
Sambhar is a popular Indian dish that is typically served with rice or idli. It can be made with lentils, beans, vegetables, and spices.
With this simple recipe, you can make a flavorful, substantial, and healthful South Indian vegetable-lentil stew. Serve the sambhar with South Indian snacks like as idli, dosa, medu vada, and uttapam, or just with rice for a hearty, comfortable lunch.
All about Sambhar!
Sambhar is a lentil and vegetable stew from South India cooked with pigeon pea lentils, tamarind, and a special spice combination known as sambhar powder. It is a famous and well-liked meal in many South Indian households.
A simple sambhar recipe will include lentils, tamarind, sambar powder, and a few spices, as well as a mixture of one or two kinds of vegetables.
A excellent sambhar powder produces a delicious and flavorful sambar every time. So, while making it, make sure you use an excellent aromatic sambhar powder.
You may also use your preferred sambhar powder brand. I create my own sambhar powder at home, and I believe it delivers the nicest and most exquisite flavor.
If you reside outside of India and are unfamiliar with Indian food, you can buy Sambhar powder on Amazon or at any Indian grocery shop.
It is both healthful and nutritious, since it is prepared from both lentils and veggies, and is high in protein as well as other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Sambhar is a full meal when served with rice or idli.
This technique is commonly used to prepare sambhar since it is a failsafe way for cooking lentils and veggies to perfection. As a result, there will be no half-cooked lentils or mushy pasty veggies. It is also a simple technique of preparing the dish.
In it, I normally add a combination of veggies from the list above, or just one vegetable. I used drumsticks, pumpkin, carrots, eggplants, french beans, and tiny onions in my sambhar recipe.
What all is there while preparing Sambhar?
Vegetables and lentils are cooked separately in a simple sambhar recipe. Lentils are cooked until they are mushy, then mashed.
Mixed cooked veggies, mashed dal, tamarind pulp, and sambhar powder are boiled for a few minutes.
The oil (or ghee) is then tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida (hing), and dried red chilies. This tadka, or tempering, is added to the dish.
Steamed or cooked veggies are also options. When veggies are cooked or boiled in water, the broth or stew becomes quite tasty, in my experience. When compared to sambhar cooked with steamed veggies, this sambhar has superior flavors.
My recipe calls for boiling the veggies in water, which results in a tasty stew. When all of the components of the meal are combined, you’ll have a really wonderful, complexly flavored sambhar recipe.
- Sambhar is traditionally prepared using tur dal (arhar dal or pigeon pea lentils).
- It may be made using moong dal (yellow mung lentils) or masoor dal (orange lentils).
- You may also use a combination of tur dal and masoor dal. I also prepare a sambhar dish using simply mung dal on occasion.
- A mix of tuvar dal and moong dal may also be used.
- Black eyed beans and entire moong beans are also used in certain variants.
Sambhar may be prepared from a single vegetable or a combination of vegetables. Below is a list of veggies that may be used alone or in combination. You may mix and match veggies from the list below.
If you’re using spinach or amaranth, use them entirely and don’t mix them in with other veggies. You may also add whatever vegetables you choose to the sambhar dish.
|Gourd of ash (white pumpkin)||Petha|
|Drumstick||phalli of Saijan|
|Onions, shallots, and pearl onions||Chote pyaaz, pyaaz, pyaaz, pyaaz, pyaaz, pyaa|
|Okra is a kind of okra that (lady fingers)||Bhindi|
|Brinjals are a kind of brinjal (eggplant)||Baingan|
|gourd shaped like a snake||Chichinda|
|Leaves of amaranth||Chaulai|
|Gourd in a bottle||ghiya, lauki, dudhi|
|stem of a banana||kele ka tana kele ka tana kele ka|
|Plantain is a kind of plant that grows in the (unripe raw banana)||kela kacha|
|Beans (green) (french beans)||Faraz is a bean.|
|Ivy gourd is a kind of gourd that grows in the||Tendora, Tindora, Tendora, Tendora, Tendor|
|Marrow from the field (Mangalore cucumber)||Cucumber from Madras|
Sambhar preparation starts-
This recipe entails a number of steps that are all completed at the same time. As a result, you’ll need to prepare the tamarind pulp, as well as the veggies and lentils. Let’s get started.
Prep. Time: 15 Min. Cooking Time: 30 Min. Total Time: 45 Min.
- Tamarind 1 tbsp
- Hot water 1/3 cup
- Tur Dal 100 gms
- Turmeric Powder 1/2 tsp
- Water 4 cups
- Chopped vegetables 1 cup
- Scraped & chopped drumsticks 1-2
- sliced Onion 1 medium
- Salt to taste
- Red chili powder 1/2 tsp
- Sambhar powder 1-1/2 tbsp
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil, can also use coconut oil or sunflower oil or ghee
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 to 2 dry red chillies – halved and seeds removed
- 10 to 12 curry leaves
- 2 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- 5 to 6 fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) – optional
Tamarind Pulp may be made in a variety of ways-
1. Soaking the tamarind in water before starting to make sambhar is always a good idea. Soak 1 tablespoon tamarind for 20 to 30 minutes in 1/3 cup hot water.
2. After the tamarind has softened, squeeze the tamarind in the water. Remove the tamarind pulp and discard the strained tamarind.
Lentils should be cooked earlier-
3. Rinse 12 cup tuvar dal (100 grams) in fresh, clean water a few times. The lentils may be rinsed in a sieve. You may soak the lentils for an hour before cooking them for a faster cooking time.
I suggest using unpolished tuvar dal in your sambhar recipe for a more flavorful and nutritious result.
4. In a 2 litres of pressure cooker, drain all the water and add the dal. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder is also added.
The lentils may also be cooked in a pan or an instant pot. While the lentils are cooking, add water as required.
5. Mix in 1.5 to 1.75 cups of water.
6. Cover and cook dal over medium heat for 7 to 8 whistles or 9 to 10 minutes.
7. When the pressure has subsided, open the top and inspect the dal. The dal should be soft and thoroughly cooked. Use a spoon or a wired whisk to mash the dal. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. The uniformity of dal may be seen in the image below.
Cooking the veggies-
8. Rinse, peel, and cut the veggies while the dal is cooking in the pressure cooker. When cooking sambhar, cut big vegetables that cook quickly, such as pumpkin, brinjals (little aubergines), okra, drumsticks, and so on.
Carrots, potatoes, and other vegetables that take longer to cook should be cut into tiny pieces. The pumpkin was cut into huge cubes, while the carrots and potatoes were cut into little cubes.
If you don’t chop the brinjals before putting them in the pan, they will darken. 1 to 1.5 cup chopped veggies is required.
Note: I usually cook sambhar using fresh veggies for the greatest flavor and health. However, frozen veggies may also be used.
9. In a skillet or saucepan, combine 1 to 1.5 cups chopped veggies. Add 6–7 pearl onions or 1 small–medium onion (thickly cut) and 1 small–medium tomato as well (quartered).
10. Season to taste with 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1/4 teaspoon kashmiri red chili powder, and salt. The use of kashmiri red chili powder is optional and may be left out entirely. I use it to give the sambhar a wonderful pop of color.
11. Stir in 1.5 to 2 cups of water. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the veggies.
12. Place the pan on the stovetop and sauté the veggies on a low to medium heat. In the meanwhile, keep an eye on the veggies to see how they’re doing.
13. Continue to cook until the veggies are almost done. Make sure the veggies aren’t overcooked.
Prepare the Sambhar-
14. Toss the cooked veggies with the tamarind pulp that has been made. If you don’t have dried tamarind, use tamarind paste that has been packed or bottled. You may use 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of tamarind paste, or adjust the amount to your preference.
15. Combine all of the ingredients well.
16. Add 1 to 1.5 teaspoons of Sambhar Powder next. You may also add 1 to 2 teaspoons of jaggery powder at this point. It’s up to you whether or not to use jaggery.
The taste of your sambhar is mostly determined by the sambhar powder you use. So either create your own sambhar powder at home or buy a reputable brand. Sambhar powder in a packet may be purchased readily online.
17. Stir and blend well one more.
18. Stir in the dal that has been mashed.
19. Combine everything well. If the consistency seems to be too thick, add more water. You may simply alter the amount of water to get a medium to thin sambhar consistency. However, don’t add too much water since it will dilute the taste.
20. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat until it comes to a boil. Stir at regular intervals. When it starts to boil, it will form a frothy layer on top.
Turn off the heat at this point. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
21. Heat 2 teaspoons of sesame oil in a small skillet or tadka pan (oil made from raw sesame seeds). Sunflower oil, ghee, or coconut oil may also be substituted. 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds to be added to the heated oil.
22. Allow the mustard seeds to pop.
23. Finally, add 1–2 dried red chilies (halved and seeds removed).
24. Add 10 to 12 curry leaves, 5 to 6 fenugreek seeds (methi seeds), and 2 pinches asafoetida at the same time (hing). When adding the curry leaves, be cautious since the oil splutters a lot.
25. Fry until the curry leaves are crisp and the red chilies have changed color.
26. Pour this tempering mixture into the heated sambhar mixture right away.
27. Cover the pan with its cover for 4 to 5 minutes to infuse the sambhar with the fragrance and tastes from the tempering mixture.
28. Sambhar may be served hot or warm. If desired, garnish with coriander leaves. It is usually prepared two to three hours ahead of time since the flavor improves with time.
We, on the other hand, want sambhar to be served as soon as possible after it is prepared. It goes well with steaming rice, idlis, dosas, medu vadas, and uttapams.
Nutritional Information: Per Serving Amount- 265 calories Fat calories (72 calories)
Suggestions for Serving
Sambhar is often eaten with steaming rice, idli, dosa, or medu vadai, as well as uttapam. It may be made in any consistency and served with any cuisine, such as idli, dosa, or rice.
Idli, dosa, and medu vada are served with a thin sambhar. Sambhar is eaten with steaming rice and has a medium to thick consistency.
Note: To prepare gluten-free sambhar, leave out the asafetida and make sure your sambhar powder doesn’t include it, or use gluten-free asafetida.
Leftovers and Storage
Sambhar should only be kept in the refrigerator for one day. After chilling, the consistency will thicken. Reheat in a pan with a little water to reach the required consistency.
Variations In Preparations of Sambhar-
Sambhar may be made in a variety of ways. Each state in South India has its own variants, such as using a different oil or adding a few other ingredients or spices to the sambar powder.
- Sesame oil, popularly known as gingelly, is utilized in Tamil Nadu. Gingelly oil is created from raw sesame seeds and has a flavor and taste that is considerably different from Asian toasted sesame oil. Coconut oil is widely utilized in Kerala.
- Making a ground sambhar masala paste with or without coconut is one of the sambhar recipe variants. The coconut is roasted until golden and then crushed to a paste in certain forms. As a result, the taste and flavor of the sambar recipe will vary based on the components utilized.
- A little jaggery is added to the sambar powder in Karnataka. This imparts a little sweet flavor to the sambhar, which some people like.
- When cooking sambhar, pigeon pea lentils (arhar dal, tur dal, tuvar dal) are often utilized. However, red lentils (masoor dal) and yellow moong lentils (mung dal) may be used in certain versions. You may also use a mix of these three lentils. I generally use arhar dal and moong dal in my recipes.
Expert Tips to make Sambhar more delicious!
If you follow some of my helpful ideas below, you may make a highly delicious and appetizing sambar.
- Sambar Powder: Using a good and fresh sambhar powder provides the major taste and fragrance of sambar. So make your own powder or use your favorite store-bought sambhar powder.
- Vegetable types: Adding veggies to the dish adds more flavor and taste. As a result, the sambhar will taste vary based on the veggies used. Drumsticks, brinjals, pumpkin or ash gourd, pearl onions (shallots), carrots, and okra are my favorites.
- Use fresh and high-quality tuvar dal whenever possible. The better the dal tastes and cooks, the fresher it is. Soak the lentils for an hour before cooking to speed up the process.
- Tamarind: It’s best to use fresh tamarind for tamarind. It will be deeper in color and sourer if you use mature tamarind. So use a little less tamarind than the recipe calls for.
- Cooking veggies: Cook vegetables until they are tender but still whole. In the sambhar, they should not break or become to mush. So, while cooking, start with the veggies that take longer to prepare and cook for a few minutes. Then add the veggies, which will cook quicker.
- Oils: In sambhar, gingelly oil (raw sesame oil) and edible coconut oil both have a great flavor. If you don’t have these oils, sunflower or peanut oil may be substituted.
- Tempering or tadka spices: Always cook over a low temperature and stir often when tempering or tadka spices. Spices and herbs fry quickly, so keep an eye on them. If the tempering becomes scorched, it should be discarded and a fresh tempering made. In sambhar, never use a burned tempering since it would ruin the flavor.
- You may modify the consistency of sambhar by adding less or more water. However, if you add too much water and thin it out, the tastes and taste will be diminished. You may prepare a thick sambhar to serve with rice, and a medium consistency sambar to serve with idli or dosa.
- Adding a little jaggery to temper the sourness: If you find the flavor of sambhar to be too sour, you can always add a little jaggery to balance it out.
To Try More Sambhar Varieties!
• 40 minutes • Moderate
Tamil Nadu Cuisine
Sambhar with Drumsticks (Murungakkai Sambar)
1 hour and 15 minutes
• 50 minutes • Moderate
South Indian Cuisine
Idli Sambhar | Tiffin Sambar in the Hotel Style
Recipes for Vegans
Please rate this dish in the recipe card below if you tried it. For more vegetarian ideas, sign up for my email newsletter.
The “sambhar recipe kerala style” is a dish that is made with lentils, vegetables and tamarind. It’s spiciness comes from the use of chilli powder and cumin seeds in the dish. The sambar recipe is traditionally eaten with rice or idli.
Frequently Asked Questions
What dal is sambhar made of?
A: Sambar is a spicy, spiced lentil stew that has a variety of vegetables and spices added to it. It can vary from region to region in India depending on the ingredients used.
Why is sambar not tasty?
A: Sambar is a spicy South Indian dish that originated in the southern parts of India. It can be made with many different kinds of spices including chilies, garlic, ginger and coriander leaves. The name comes from Tamil origin meaning sour flavor.
Is sambar bad for health?
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- 1 All about Sambhar!
- 2 What all is there while preparing Sambhar?
- 3 Sambhar preparation starts-
- 4 Suggestions for Serving
- 5 Leftovers and Storage
- 6 Variations In Preparations of Sambhar-
- 7 Expert Tips to make Sambhar more delicious!