Soothing Sāmbhar

Sāmbhar is a south Indian dish made with red gram or Toor dal, Tamarind & assorted vegetables like potatoes, drumsticks, carrots, pearl onions, raddish, brinjals and so on! It is accompanied usually with Idlis, vada, dosa and steamed rice.
There are so many different ways of preparing it. It’s an easy and very popular recipe. You can find endless recipes for Sāmbhar and also there are ready made Sāmbhar powder mixes available.
I myself have over 5 different variations of Sāmbhar recipe with me. Sāmbhar is my favorite dish since I was a little kid. I remember telling my mom when I was a kid to prepare Sāmbhar very often!! I usually make my own home made powder or paste, its fresh and also doesn’t take much time to prepare from scratch. This recipe is very easy and also tasty.I learnt this version from my sister few years back. She is a fantastic cook herself! This recipe involves frying the Sāmbhar ingredients freshly, so the final result of Sāmbhar is fresh, fragrant and comforting. My mom used to make a similar recipe but she used to add about 1 tbsp of coconut while frying. Since I was not successful frying the coconut till the perfect brown I just gave up on it because if the coconut is not fried well the Sāmbhar doesn’t taste very good.

To prepare this delicious home-made Sāmbhar you will require

Toor daal ½ to ¾ cups( adding more dal will thicken the sambhar which is good)
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Vegetables like carrots, French beans, drumstick pieces, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, about 1 ½ cups
Tamarind paste ½ tsp
Salt to taste
Jaggery ¼ tsp
Coriander leaves for garnish

For Sāmbhar Powder/paste:

½ tsp urad dal
½ tsp chana dal
¼ tsp cumin /jeera seeds
¼ tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
4 tsp Coriander/dhania seeds
Red chillies about 6 to 7(add more if you like spicy and adjust everything accordingly)
¼ tsp asafoetida/hing powder
A pinch turmeric powder
2 to 3 tsp Cooking oil for frying

For Tempering:

Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Fresh Curry leaves 7 to 8
3 tsp Ghee or cooking oil for seasoning


1. Wash toor daal in 2 to 3 changes of water or until clear. Cook toor daal along with turmeric powder till soft and mushy.

2. Clean & chop vegetables into chunks and cook them in a saucepan till tender.

3. Mean while heat oil in a small tadka pan and fry the Sāmbhar powder/paste ingredients in order mentioned separately till you feel the aromas. When cool blend it into fine powder. You can add water and make a fine paste as well. I add water and make a fine paste, which works fine for me.

4. Now in a heavy bottomed vessel combine both the dal and vegetables and mix well. Add salt and bring it to boil.

5. Add the grounded paste/powder and mix well. To this add tamarind paste, a bit jaggery and mix it well. Let it come to a good rolling boil.
Adjust everything at this point.

6. Finally in a tadka pan heat oil/ghee, follow it by mustard seeds when they start crackling add curry leaves and fry for a minute. You can add asafoetida at this point.

7. Finish it by garnishing coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice along side pappads!


Asha said...

Anu,Sambhar looks fabulous.I just came back from vacation and first thing I made is Sambhar!!:D

Sameer said...

am gonna try out your recipe... except for the sambar powder which i have ready-made. will let ya know how it turns out.

Sameer said...

thanks for making the post. i made sambar today ( i used sambar powder though) using potatoes, drumsticks et al. made a decent dinner.

Anu said...

Good going sameer!!Glad to know that this blog is helping you!!!;)

Sameer said...

i made sambar another time and my guests liked it too... thanks for the reference.

i feel making the sambar powder is the hardest part of the whole process... do you make fresh powder everytime you make sambar ? am curious coz most ladies back home make sambar powder separately and use it whenever they need.

TBC said...

Your sambar looks perfect. I like drumsticks in sambar for the flavor it imparts to the dish but I never eat them.