Skip to main content

How to Make South Indian Sambar in 20 Minutes

I like to cook and eat natural, healthy, and tasty foods, and I enjoy sharing recipes from my native Indian cuisine.

South Indian Sambar

South Indian Sambar

A Yummy, Wholesome Curry for All

Sambar is a South Indian delicacy. You can make sambar with any one vegetable of your choice or with mixed vegetables. Lentil is the ingredient that gives this dish its yummy taste.

To make this sambar, cooked lentils are mixed with boiled vegetables and spice powders. I used mixed vegetables, lentils, and sambar powder. (You can buy sambar powder from most any Indian store.) This spicy curry is very flavorful, smooth, thick, and delicious. In this, you get a variety of nutrients from both lentil and veggies. Sambar is easy to digest, and it contains very little oil.

This is a super quick way of making the sambar in 20 minutes. A pressure cooker made this miraculous thing happen! I made this sambar using a pressure cooker throughout, and there was no mess. When it was finished, I transferred the sambar to a serving dish. Adding a tempering (spices heated in oil) gives a real kick to this yummy dish.

Over to the detailed recipe.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

5 min

15 min

20 min

Serves four people


  • 1 big bowl of mixed veggies, (I used carrot, green beans, eggplant, and potatoes, all cut in 1-inch pieces.)
  • 1 cup tomatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup onions, sliced or cubed
  • 2 green chilies, slit
  • 1 1/2 cup lentil (toor dal), split pigeon pea
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
  • 3 teaspoons sambar powder, available in Indian stores, you can use any brand such as Maiyyas, MTR, etc
  • 1 teaspoon jaggery powder, optional (helps to balance the taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing/asafoetida powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut powder, or dry grind grated coconut, gives nice flavor
  • 3 tablespoons fresh green coriander, finely chopped, for the garnish
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt, or as per taste

For the tempering:

  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 2 whole dry red chilies


  1. Wash the split pigeon peas with water. Soak them in fresh water for 30 minutes. Strain them.
  2. Heat a pressure cooker bottom. Add lentils (split pigeon peas) to it. Also, add 5 to 6 cups of water.
  3. Let the mix boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Now, close the cooker with the lid and place the weight.
  4. Cook it on medium high heat till you hear 2 whistles. Turn off the heat.
  5. When the pressure lowers, open the lid. Mash the cooked lentil.
  6. Throw in the mixed veggies. Add salt. Add slit green chilies. Bring the mix to a nice boil. Cover the cooker. Cook till you get a whistle. Turn off the heat.
  7. Open the cooker once the pressure drops. You can see that veggies are nicely cooked and also blended with the lentils.
  8. Now, add all the spices. Throw in the turmeric powder, sambar powder, jaggery powder, tamarind paste, remaining salt, hing powder, and coconut powder. Stir well.
  9. Boil the mix for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  10. Add finely chopped fresh coriander leaves. Mix well.
  11. Your favorite South Indian sambar is ready! Now, you have to add a tempering to it.
  12. For the tempering, heat oil in a small pan. Throw in the red chilies, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves. Keep the heat low. Let the mustard crackle. Pour this tempering on the sambar. Mix once.
  13. Serve this mouth-watering sambar with plain rice, dosa, idli, etc. This can be a side dish for any type of vegetarian main course. Enjoy!