Traditional south Indian sambar is what we will be making today. The recipe is easy. Although this may be true yet it requires a 3-step procedure. I will explain all the steps in detail.


Not only steps, but we will also look into the item list. Therefore let’s start with the basic facts.

What is Sambar?

Sambar is a lentil-based vegetable stew cooked using pigeon pea & tamarind. Sambar is a popular dish in South India. Not only South India, but it is also a significant part of Sri Lankan cuisines.

For those who don’t know what stew is, let me explain it. Stew is a dish of meat & vegetables cooked on low flames in a kadhai or a pan. That’s the reason why we are calling sambar a stew. In other words, a vegetable stew.

5 Reasons to Love South Indian Sambar

  • Sambar is high in protein. It is made using pulses, aka dal & pulses are a good source of vegan protein. That’s good news for vegetarians.
  • Traditional sambar recipes contain fibre-rich seasonal vegetables. Drumsticks, pumpkin, brinjal, okra & tomatoes are a few to name.
  • The recipe includes a mix of healthy herbs & spices. They have several health benefits like good digestion, weight loss & high immunity.
  • It is one of the best food for smooth digestion. All because of its liquid consistency & fibre-rich ingredients. Go for it.
  • The dal stew is good for weight loss because it is rich in proteins & fibre. Additionally, it is digestible & helps lose weight faster.

Now that we know the benefits of sambar let’s begin making it—time to explore the ingredient list. Here we go.

Sambar Ingredients

The item list is a little lengthy, but let me tell you, and it’s worth it. I have bifurcated based on the procedures. Do the same when you cook. Another critical point is not to skip any ingredients. Now refer to the list below.

To Boil Lentils (Dal)

  • Water – Add water in proportion to the lentils.
  • Pigeon Pea – Soak pigeon peas before boiling.
  • Salt – As per taste
  • Turmeric Powder – Instead of adding it in the tadka, we will add it here. It will add flavour & colour.

To Boil Vegetables

  • Water – Add water in proportion to the lentils.
  • Drumsticks – Wash & cut them into 2-inch long pieces.
  • Potato – Peel & cut potatoes into small pieces.
  • Salt – As per taste.

To Saute the Masala

  • Cooking Oil – Use regular cooking oil to saute masala.
  • Mustard Seeds – These seeds are bitter; therefore, add them carefully.
  • Fenugreek Seeds – Methi seeds are for flavour & aroma.
  • Dry Red Chili – For required spicy taste.
  • Asafoetida – Add as per the measurement.
  • Red Chili Powder – Add as per the measurement.
  • Curry Leaves – It’s a regular add-on to the Indian tadka. Don’t skip.
  • Tamarind Paste – For sweet & sour flavour.
  • Coriander – Chop fresh coriander to garnish the sambar.

The water quantity in this recipe is subjective. It will vary depending on the ingredient & time taken to boil. Hence, add water mindfully.

How to Cook Traditional South Indian Sambar?

After gathering the items, we will now start cooking our sambar. The cooking process contains three steps. Let’s discuss them in brief.

The first step is to boil the lentils.

Boil water & add pigeon peas along with other items. Boil till the lentils are soft. Now here’s an important thing. Break down the boiled dal using a whisker.

The lentils must be in liquid consistency. It happens that even after boiling, your lentils might remain in shape. For sambar, we need to break them down. You can also use an electric hand beater or a hand blender. Doing this will give you a fine runny consistency. Keep aside when done.

The second step is to boil the vegetables.

The process is similar to boiling the lentils; check whether or not your veggies are soft. If yes, then remove from the flames & keep aside. If not, then add a little water & boil till smooth.

The third step is to prepare the tadka.

Take a non-stick kadhai and saute green & dry masala in hot oil. Make sure they don’t burn. Therefore, keep the flames low. Keep stirring. When you smell the aroma of spice & masala, add onions & tomatoes.

Saute everything on medium-high flames till aromatic. Your tempering, aka tadka, is ready now. We will move on to the next step.

The final step is to assemble everything & cook.

Once your tadka is ready, add boiled lentils (dal) & veggies. Add tamarind paste with a bit of water. Mix properly & cook for 10 minutes. Your authentic South Indian Sambar is ready. Serve with idli or dosa. Eat & enjoy.

Hence, that was it with the sambar recipe. Follow us for more Indian recipes. Then, tell me in the comment section how did you make sambar.

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