South Indian Sambhar Recipe

South Indian Sambhar Recipe

Posted on 11 সেপ্টেম্বর, 2023


Try the Best Authentic South Indian Sambhar Recipe to Pair with Dishes!

Sambhar is a South Indian dish which is essentially a vegetable and lentil stew. It is eaten with great relish alongside snacks such as dosa, idli, medu vada, or rice. This comforting dish can lead to a filling and nutritious meal. Sambhar is incredibly popular because of its simplicity but also because of its great aroma and the mixture of vegetables and space it uses. 

However, a part of the sambhar recipe also includes the sambhar masala as one of the ingredients. And you can use homemade sambhar masala in your recipe if you want the best taste of a homemade meal. At the same time, if you do not have homemade sambhar masala, then you can always use the store-bought one. 

Step-by-Step Method for Making Simple Sambhar Recipe

Ingredients for Making Sambhar

Go through the sambhar ingredients and understand what will be required for your recipe before you start making it. 

    • 1 tablespoon tamarind
    • ½ cup tuvar dal
    • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Sambhar vegetables
    • ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli
    • 1-1.5 tablespoons of sambhar powder
    • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 2 tablespoons gingelly oil
    • 1-2 dry chillies
    • 10-12 curry leaves
    • 5-6 fenugreek seeds
    • Asafoetida

    Step 1: Prepare and Cook the Lentils

    Before you start cooking your lentils, you must first soak your tamarind in water from before. Take a tablespoon of tamarind in around ⅓ cup of hot water for 20-30 minutes. Once your tamarind is entirely soft, you can squeeze it out in the water and discard its husk while keeping the pulp in the water. 

    Rinse the ½ cup or 100 grams of tuvar dal using a strainer. Once you have drained the water, you can follow the below steps to cook your lentils. 

    • Take a pressure cooker and pour the lentils into it. Add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder and around 1.75 or 1.5 cups of water to the mix. 
    • Cover the lid and cook the lentils for 9-10 minutes or 7-8 whistles on medium heat. 
    • Open the lid once the pressure has settled down, and check the lentils. Your dal is entirely cooked when it's mushy inside.
    • You can further mash the dal with a wired whisk or spoon

    Pro Tip: If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can use a steamer or instant pot to cook your lentils. 

    Step 2: Cook the Vegetables

    Rinse, peel, and chop the vegetables included in the sambhar ingredients. Generally, sambhar includes a lot of vegetables. These can be brinjal or small aubergines, drumsticks, okra, pumpkin, and more. You can also put potatoes, carrots, and other vegetables, but ensure you chop them in smaller pieces. 

    Pro Tip: The vegetables should be cut bigger in size so that they can be cooked faster.

    Once you have your vegetables ready, you can start preparing them in a pot or pan by following the below instructions:

    • Add 1.5-1 cups of chopped vegetables in a pot or pan and add 1 medium-sized squared tomato along with 1 small to medium thickly sliced onion or 6-7 pearl onions. 
    • In the same pot, sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of Kashmiri red chilli, ¼ teaspoon of turmeric powder, and salt as per your taste. 
    • Add around 2-1.5 cups of water and stir the mixture. The water quantity should be enough that it covers all the vegetables. 
    • Put your pot or pan on a stovetop and cook them on medium to medium-low heat. 

    While cooking the vegetables, ensure that they do not get overcooked. Turn off the flame as soon as you think they are almost done. 

    Step 3: Make the Sambhar

    After the preparation, follow the second set of the sambhar recipe to complete your cooking. Go through the steps mentioned to complete the sambhar recipe

    • Add your prepared tamarind water to your cooked vegetables. If you forgot to soak your dried tamarind, then you can also use bottled or packaged tamarind paste. Add 1 or ½ tablespoon of tamarind paste according to your taste. 
    • Mix the paste with the vegetables and add 1.5-1 tablespoon of sambar powder. You can also add a teaspoon of jaggery powder, but it's optional. 
    • Stir and mix your paste well, and then add the mashed lentils. 
    • Give the mixture another stir and check for the consistency of the sambhar. If the sambhar appears too thick, add some water according to your liking. 
    • Let the ingredients simmer on medium-low heat, and keep stirring them occasionally. 

    Step 4: Temper the Sambhar

    Now, cook the spices you will temper the sambhar with. To cook the other ingredients, follow the below instructions:

    • Heat 2 tablespoons of gingelly oil in a small pan, and add ½ teaspoon of mustard seeds. 
    • Let the mustard seeds crackle on low heat, and then add 1-2 dry chillies chopped in half with all their seeds removed. 
    • Immediately after this, add 10-12 curry leaves, 2 pinches of asafoetida, and 5-6 fenugreek seeds. 
    • Fry these ingredients until the curry leaves are crisp and the red chillies change colour on low heat. You must ensure that you don’t burn any spices in this step. 

    Once the ingredients are completely fried, add the tempering mixture immediately into your hot sambhar. Then, cover your pan with the lid for up to 4-5 minutes to ensure that the tempering mixture's flavours and aroma spread throughout the sambhar and infused with it. 

    Now that your sambhar is ready, you can serve it warm or hot by garnishing it with coriander leaves. However, this is one of those sambhar recipes that improves with time. So, if you leave your sambhar for a few hours, it will taste even better later. 


    Having all sambhar ingredients ready is essential to get that authentic flavour in your dish. However, two sambhar recipes never look the same, so you can twist the traditional recipe while making it. However, ensure the sambhar vegetables are thoroughly cooked without burning the spices. Then, you can pair your sambhar for dosa and enjoy it whenever the craving hits. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What should I serve the sambhar with?

    You can serve your delicious sambhar with uttapam, steamed rice, dosa, idli, or medu vada. You can even change the consistency of your sambhar to pair it with a specific dish. 

    1. How long can I store the sambhar in the refrigerator?

    You can store and eat the leftover sambhar for a day only. But the consistency of your sambhar will thicken during refrigeration. And you can simply reheat the stew again in a pan to serve it hot. 

    1. What are the different variations of sambhar in South India?

    Every South Indian makes its sambhar a little different. In Tamil Nadu, most of the sambhar is made entirely with gingelly or sesame seed oil. The gingelly oil is made using raw sesame seeds, so it tastes entirely different. Whereas, in Kerala, coconut oil is heavily used in the sambhar. Again, in Karnataka, some jaggery is used with the sambhar powder. So, you can create your sambhar recipe in many different ways. 

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