Simple South Indian Sambar Recipe for Idli or Dosa

Updated on May 22, 2020
Shwetha raashi profile image

Shwetha Bhat is passionate about food and cooking. She loves to experiment in the kitchen and share her recipes.

Sambar paired with idli or dosa is a popular South Indian breakfast
Sambar paired with idli or dosa is a popular South Indian breakfast

What Is Sambar?

Sambar is a spiced lentil-based vegetable stew that is often served with idli or dosa to make a traditional South Indian breakfast. It can also be served with uttapam or vada, as well.

There are many different ways to prepare sambar. Some recipes call for coconut, but the version I am sharing here does not include that ingredient. My recipe relies primarily on tomatoes and lentils, and it's quick and easy to prepare. It's a fairly flexible recipe, as well, as it can be customized according to your taste and preference.

This sambar is prepared using a homemade ground spice powder, which is not only healthy but also gives a uniquely authentic flavor and aroma to this dish. I hope you try it and let me know how it turned out in the comments section below!

Cook Time

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min
Ready in: 35 min
Yields: 3 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup toor dal (lentils), you can use masoor dal, moong dal or a mix
  • 2 cups water, for cooking the dal
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 lemon-sized tamarind, soaked in water and juice extracted
  • 2-3 medium-sized ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chana dal or Bengal gram
  • 2-3 red chilies, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2-3 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1-2 dry red chilies, broken
  • Sprig fresh curry leaves
  • 1-2 green chilies, or to taste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh coriander leaves, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Wash the dal. Place it in a pressure cooker with 1-2 cups of water and the turmeric. Close the lid and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles or until soft. Switch off the flame and let the pressure release by itself. (If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can cook the dal in a pot on the stove.)
  2. After the dal has cooled, mash it well until smooth and set aside.
  3. Soak the tamarind in water (you can use hot or cold water). Squeeze and extract the pulp. Set aside.
  4. Wash and chop the tomatoes and set aside. (If you are adding other vegetables to the sambar, chop them now, as well).
  5. Prepare the sambar powder: In a pan, dry-roast the chana dal or Bengal gram, red chilies, coriander seeds and cumin seeds (jeera) over a medium to low flame until the chana dal turns a golden color and you smell a nice aroma. Take care not to burn the spices. Set aside to cool. Transfer the cooled sambar powder to a mixer jar and make a fine powder.
  6. Add the oil to a pot and heat up. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to splutter.
  7. Throw in the fenugreek seeds (methi seeds), broken dry red chilies and curry leaves. Fry till the curry leaves become crisp.
  8. Add the green chilies and continue to fry.
  9. Add the chopped tomatoes and saute until soft.
  10. Add the sambar powder. Mix and continue to saute.
  11. Add the mashed dal. Stir and bring to the boil.
  12. Add the tamarind paste and salt to taste. Cook well till the smell of tamarind paste vanishes.
  13. Add finely chopped fresh coriander leaves. When it begins to bubble, switch off the flame.
  14. Serve hot with idli or dosa. You could also serve it with uttapam or vada.

Step 1: Prepare the Dal and Tomatoes

Click thumbnail to view full-size
In a cooker, add 1 cup of dal. I used toor dal, but you can use moong dal, masoor dal or a mix.Wash and add 1-2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder.Close the lid and pressure cook the dal for 3-4 whistles or until soft. Switch off the flame and let the pressure release by itself.Once the pressure goes off, open the lid.Mash it well till smooth. Set aside.Wash and chop ripe tomatoes and set aside. Chop any other vegetables you might be using, as well.
In a cooker, add 1 cup of dal. I used toor dal, but you can use moong dal, masoor dal or a mix.
In a cooker, add 1 cup of dal. I used toor dal, but you can use moong dal, masoor dal or a mix.
Wash and add 1-2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder.
Wash and add 1-2 cups of water and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder.
Close the lid and pressure cook the dal for 3-4 whistles or until soft. Switch off the flame and let the pressure release by itself.
Close the lid and pressure cook the dal for 3-4 whistles or until soft. Switch off the flame and let the pressure release by itself.
Once the pressure goes off, open the lid.
Once the pressure goes off, open the lid.
Mash it well till smooth. Set aside.
Mash it well till smooth. Set aside.
Wash and chop ripe tomatoes and set aside. Chop any other vegetables you might be using, as well.
Wash and chop ripe tomatoes and set aside. Chop any other vegetables you might be using, as well.

Step 2: Prepare the Tamarind Paste

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Soak the tamarind in a small amount of water. It may take 15-20 minutes. If you soak it in hot water it will take less time.Squeeze and extract the pulp. Set aside.
Soak the tamarind in a small amount of water. It may take 15-20 minutes. If you soak it in hot water it will take less time.
Soak the tamarind in a small amount of water. It may take 15-20 minutes. If you soak it in hot water it will take less time.
Squeeze and extract the pulp. Set aside.
Squeeze and extract the pulp. Set aside.

Step 3: Prepare the Sambar Powder

Click thumbnail to view full-size
In a pan, dry-roast the chana dal or Bengal gram, dry red chilies, coriander seeds and cumin seeds over medium to low flame. Take care not to burn the spices.Roast until the chana dal turns golden and the coriander and cumin seeds begin to crackle. Switch off the flame and set aside to cool.Once the spices have cooled, transfer them to a mixer jar and make a fine powder.Your sambar powder is ready. Set it aside.
In a pan, dry-roast the chana dal or Bengal gram, dry red chilies, coriander seeds and cumin seeds over medium to low flame. Take care not to burn the spices.
In a pan, dry-roast the chana dal or Bengal gram, dry red chilies, coriander seeds and cumin seeds over medium to low flame. Take care not to burn the spices.
Roast until the chana dal turns golden and the coriander and cumin seeds begin to crackle. Switch off the flame and set aside to cool.
Roast until the chana dal turns golden and the coriander and cumin seeds begin to crackle. Switch off the flame and set aside to cool.
Once the spices have cooled, transfer them to a mixer jar and make a fine powder.
Once the spices have cooled, transfer them to a mixer jar and make a fine powder.
Your sambar powder is ready. Set it aside.
Your sambar powder is ready. Set it aside.

Step 4: Cook the Sambar

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Heat the oil in a pot. Splutter the mustard seeds.Add the fenugreek seeds (methi), broken red chilies and curry leaves. Fry and add the green chilies. Saute until the red chilies turn crisp.Add the chopped tomatoes (and any other vegetables you may be adding).Saute till the tomatoes are cooked and mushy.Add the prepared sambar powder.Saute for a minute. This brings out the nice aroma of the sambar powder.Add the cooked and mashed dal. Mix and pour in a little water. Add the tamarind paste.Add salt to taste. Mix and cook till the smell of the tamarind disappears. Add more water if the sambar is too thick. Switch off the stove.
Heat the oil in a pot. Splutter the mustard seeds.
Heat the oil in a pot. Splutter the mustard seeds.
Add the fenugreek seeds (methi), broken red chilies and curry leaves. Fry and add the green chilies. Saute until the red chilies turn crisp.
Add the fenugreek seeds (methi), broken red chilies and curry leaves. Fry and add the green chilies. Saute until the red chilies turn crisp.
Add the chopped tomatoes (and any other vegetables you may be adding).
Add the chopped tomatoes (and any other vegetables you may be adding).
Saute till the tomatoes are cooked and mushy.
Saute till the tomatoes are cooked and mushy.
Add the prepared sambar powder.
Add the prepared sambar powder.
Saute for a minute. This brings out the nice aroma of the sambar powder.
Saute for a minute. This brings out the nice aroma of the sambar powder.
Add the cooked and mashed dal.
Add the cooked and mashed dal.
Mix and pour in a little water.
Mix and pour in a little water.
Add the tamarind paste.
Add the tamarind paste.
Add salt to taste. Mix and cook till the smell of the tamarind disappears. Add more water if the sambar is too thick. Switch off the stove.
Add salt to taste. Mix and cook till the smell of the tamarind disappears. Add more water if the sambar is too thick. Switch off the stove.

Notes

  • Type of dal: I like to use toor dal for this recipe, but you can also use masoor dal, moong dal or a mix.
  • Additional vegetables: You can add some simple vegetables like onions, potatoes, carrots, shallots or sambar onions. Note: If you are adding any vegetables, be sure to add the tamarind paste only after the vegetables are almost cooked. Otherwise, the vegetables may not cook properly.
  • Pressure cooker: If you are using a pressure cooker for the dal, you can pressure cook the vegetables with the dal to save time.
  • Coconut variation: If you'd like to try a variation with coconut, you can dry-roast some coconut along with the ingredients for the sambar powder.
  • Sweet variation: You can add a bit of jaggery if you'd like a sweeter sambar.
  • Tamarind paste: You can substitute store-bought tamarind paste.
  • Sambar powder: You can make the powder in advance. It can be stored for 2-3 weeks in an airtight container.
  • Cooking the sambar powder: Take care when roasting the spices. If they burn, the sambar won't turn out well. Be sure to roast over a medium to low flame.

Serve hot sambar with idli or dosa. It also goes well with other breakfasts like uttapam or vada.
Serve hot sambar with idli or dosa. It also goes well with other breakfasts like uttapam or vada.
Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1
Calories 450
Calories from Fat9
% Daily Value *
Fat 1 g2%
Carbohydrates 85 g28%
Sugar 15 g
Fiber 29 g116%
Protein 24 g48%
Sodium 1210 mg50%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.
5 stars from 1 rating of Simple South Indian Sambar Recipe for Idli or Dosa

Have you tried sambar before?

See results

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Shwetha raashi profile imageAUTHOR

      Shwetha bhat 

      2 months ago from Bengaluru

      Thank you sir.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      2 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Excellent presentation.

    • Shwetha raashi profile imageAUTHOR

      Shwetha bhat 

      2 months ago from Bengaluru

      This sambar goes well with Typical South Indian breakfasts like idli and dosa. This is side dish.

    • profile image

      4waystoyummy 

      2 months ago

      This sounds delicious! Is this a typical breakfast?

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, delishably.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)