Sambar (a south indian vegetable stew)

Now that my dosa recipe is up on the blog, I couldn’t leave you without a good sambar recipe. Sambar is one of those recipes that makes me think I could live off vegetarian food. For a pot full of vegetables, this stew sure does pack a LOT of flavor!

Sambar is made many different ways. In fact, different districts within South India all seem to have their own variation. From the types of vegetable used to the spice blends, the combinations are vast.

What I’ve created is a version that highlights my favorite flavors. I tend to love a good savory and sweet combination which is I love included golden potatoes and pumpkin or butternut squash in this dish. The podi (powder) I make perks up this sambar with earthiness and the tamarind adds the right amount of sourness to balance everything out.

I hope you enjoy making this recipe (and eat it with some idli or dosa!). If you decide to make this tag me @thefoodiecutie on Instagram or comment below with how this turns out for you 🙂


  • Toor Dal, 3/4 cup
  • Sambar Podi (powder)
    • Grated Coconut, 1/2 cup
    • Urad Dal, 1 tbsp
    • Curry Leaves, 1 sprig
    • Coriander Seeds, 1/4 cup
    • Cumin, 1 tsp
    • Dry Red Chilis, 3
    • Peppercorns, 1/2 tsp
    • Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
    • Methi (Fenugreek) Leaves, 1 tbsp
    • Asafoetida (Hing), 1 tsp
    • Turmeric, 1tsp
  • VegetablesDrumsticks (Moringa), 3-4 pieces
    • Okra, 3-4 whole, tops cut
    • Roma Tomatoes, 2, large dice
    • Golden Potatoes, 1, peeled, large cubes
    • Carrots, 1 large, cut into rounds about 1mm” thick
    • White Pumpkin (Mathanga) or Butternut Squash, 1/2 cup, large cubes
    • Pearl Onions, 4, thinly sliced
    • White Onion, 1/2, large dice
    • Green Chilis, 2, slit longways
  • Tamarind Concentrate, 1 tbsp
  • Salt, 1-2 tbsp

Tempering Ingredients

  • Coconut Oil, 2 tbsp
  • Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Curry Leaves, 1 sprig
  • Asafoetida (Hing), 1/2 tsp

img_5024HOW TO MAKE IT

Create the base. In a pressure cooker, add the toor dal along with 2 cups of water. Pressure cook on high for about 10 minutes. Once cooked, lightly mash some of the dal to make the water thicker.

Make the podi (powder). To make the sambar podi, take a deep skillet and put it on the stove on low heat. Start by toasting the grated coconut until it’s lightly golden. Now add in the remaining podi ingredients and use your cooking spatula to keep the spices moving around the pan on low heat. We’re just cooking this until the spices release their aroma (about 1-2 minutes). Let this cool completely before adding it to a spice grinder or small cup blender. Blend this into a fine powder. The powder might have some light coarseness to it – that’s ok.

Pressure cook the veggies. Put the okra in a small skillet with about a tsp of oil. Lightly roast this just enough to cook the outer layer. This helps reduce stickiness once we add it to the pressure cooker. Add all of the cut vegetables, about 4-5 cups of water, and 1/4 cup of the sambar podi to the pressure cooker with the toor dal in it. Mix this then pressure cook on high for about 15 minutes.

Season and temper. Now add the tamarind and salt to the sambar and mix. In a small skillet, add the coconut oil. Once melted and hot, add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds pop, turn off the heat then mix in the asafoetida. Pour this into the sambar. Flavor trick: put about a 1/2 cup of the sambar in the tempering skillet and swirl it around to pick up any last bits of spices then pour it back into the sambar. Check for salt and done!

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