Sambar recipe – pebkac

Sambar recipe

bowl of Sambar over rice with yoghurt on top

Makes roughly eight (8) servings. Serve with rice.


  • One (1) cup Toor Dal
  • Four (4) cups Water
  • Four (4) cups vegetables
  • One (1) onion
  • Eight (8) cloves garlic, peeled
  • Two (2) teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • One (1) teaspoon asafoetida
  • One (1) teaspoon fenugreek
  • One (1) teaspoon cumin seeds
  • One Eighth (1/8) to One Half (1/2) teaspoon Red chili pepper by preference
  • Two (2) teaspoons tamarind paste
  • One (1) Twenty-eight Ounce (28oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • Two (2) to Three (3) serrano chillies (by preference), topped and cut lengthwise
  • Six (6) teaspoons sambar powder.
  • Roughly four (4) tablespoons olive oil
  • One (1) teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • Three (3) small bowls or mugs for preparation.
  • One (1) large pot.
  • One (1) small pot.

Assuming you do not have a pressure cooker, put the one (1) cup of
Toor Dal and four (4) cups of water in a small pot. Bring to a boil
and then simmer, covered (The idea is to cook until the Toor Dal
disintegrates, which will likely take about 90 minutes. If you have a
pressure cooker, this takes about 15 minutes). It’s helpful to stir

Boil about one (1) cup of water. When the water comes to a boil, pour
it into a small bowl with two (2) teaspoons of tamarind paste and stir
to dissolve the tamarind. Set aside.

Before you start cooking anything else, make sure the rest of the
ingredients have been prepared.

Chop up four (4) cups of vegetables into bite-sized chunks.
Any vegetables will do. Good examples include sweet (or other)
potatoes, squash, kale–experiment to find what you like, or maybe go
with what is cheap and/or in season.

Dice one (1) onion.

In a small dish, combine the eight (8) cloves of garlic with two (2)
teaspoons of mustard seeds, one (1) teaspoon of asafoetida, one (1)
teaspoon of fenugreek, one (1) teaspoon of cumin seeds, and the red
chili. Set aside.

In another small dish, combine one (1) teaspoon salt, one (1) teaspoon
turmeric, and six (6) teaspoons sambar powder. Set aside.

The final cooking
Open the can of tomatoes and set aside. In a large pot, heat
enough oil (about four tablespoons depending on the pot) to cover two
thirds (2/3) of the bottom (it loosens up and covers the bottom as it
heats). Add the dish of spices with the garlic to the large pot. Stir
well into the oil over medium-high heat. When the mustard seeds begin
to pop—or after about one (1) minute—add the onions and begin to
sauté. When the onions begin to turn translucent—or after about five
minutes—add your four (4) cups vegetables and your serrano peppers.
Stir so that they are well-covered by oil and spices. You may need to
add oil at this point since some vegetables soak up the oil. If using
a vegetable like sweet potatoes that requires more cook time, cook in
this manner for about 10 minutes. Otherwise, eg. with kale or summer
squash, cook for less time.

During this vegetable cook time is a great time to start your rice.
Add the tamarind, tomatoes, and second dish of spices (the one with
the sambar powder) to the large pot. Stir well and simmer until the
vegetables are cooked.

Once the Toor Dal is mushy and cooked, add it to the large pot. Add salt to taste.
Serve over rice, and topped with yoghurt (if you want). Note that
yoghurt can be used to cut the spiciness if needed.

UPDATE: added photo of a bowl of sambar.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This work by tarheelcoxn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.