Delightful Sambar

… Admin / September 6, 2023 / Photo Credit:


The state of Tamil Nadu, home to a vibrant cultural heritage, is the birthplace of sambar, a meal that epitomizes South Indian cuisine with its balanced symphony of tastes. This dish, which celebrates the union of vegetables, spices, and lentils, has earned a permanent place on the tables of millions of homes and in their hearts. Vegetables, including drumsticks, carrots, and eggplant, together with toor dal (pigeon peas) and a variety of spices, are the foundation of sambar, a hearty stew. Sambar’s enchantment comes from the acidic note that the tamarind pulp adds, which complements the earthiness of the lentils and veggies.

Sambar is an integral part of South Asian cuisine and its preparation is an art form. The meal gets its depth and flavor from a special blend of spices. These spices include coriander seeds, fenugreek, and asafoetida. A tempering’s last flourish, sauteed mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dried red chilies, offers a rush of flavor and eye-catching color. Sambar is more than just a tasty dish; it brings people together across generations and cultures. It’s a staple in South Indian kitchens, served with anything from steaming rice to idly to dosa. A pot of freshly made sambar is often the focal point of beloved family reunions in Tamil Nadu, when loved ones come together over a shared meal and meaningful discussion. The rich history of Tamil Nadu’s cuisine can be tasted in every mouthful of sambar, from the respect shown to locally produced ingredients to the dedication to crafting meals that stimulate the senses and honor the art of balance.

  • Origin: Tamin Nadu, India
  • Category: Sambar is a Tamil Vegetarian Main Dish which is considered Main Course
  • Ingredient: Toor Dal, Vegetables, Tamarind, Sambar Powder are treated as main ingredients for this recipe. Other ingredients used are Curry Leaves, Oil, Mustard Seeds
  • Time and Flavour: This recipe takes approx 1-1.5 hours and the flavour is Spicy and Tangy
  • Nutritional Information: Sambar contains 120-kcal calories per 100 g serving. This serving contains 3 g of fat, 4 g of protein and 20 g of carbohydrate. The latter is 3 g sugar and 2 g of dietary fiber, the rest is other nutritional component. [ These values may vary based on ingredients used and its quantity ]

Tamil dish - Sambar

Photo Credit:


Sambar is a flavorful and aromatic South Indian stew that holds a central place in the region's culinary landscape. This lentil-based dish is prepared using a variety of vegetables and a distinctive blend of spices, creating a harmonious medley of flavors.

To make sambar, split pigeon peas (toor dal) are cooked until tender and then blended with a mix of vegetables such as drumsticks, carrots, eggplant, and okra. Tamarind pulp is added to lend a tangy and slightly sour note. A unique spice mix, called sambar powder, is used, comprising ingredients like coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, red chili, and curry leaves. This mixture infuses the dish with its signature taste.

The cooked lentils and vegetables are combined with the tamarind and spice mixture, creating a thick and hearty stew. The dish is tempered with mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida, and curry leaves, enhancing its aroma and taste. Sambar is often served with rice, idli, dosa, or vada, and it is accompanied by coconut chutney.

Beyond being a delightful dish, sambar is a significant component of South Indian cuisine, symbolizing the region's rich culinary heritage and cultural diversity. Its balance of spices, tanginess, and nourishing ingredients makes it a cherished comfort food enjoyed across all meals of the day.


  • Pigeon Pea Lentils [ अरहर दाल ], 1/2 Cup
    → Washed And Drained.
  • Vegetables [ सब्जियाँ ], As desired
    → Chopped. Assorted Vegetables Like Drumsticks, Carrots, Beans, Brinjal.
  • Tamarind [ इमली ], 1 Small Piece
    → Soaked In Water. Extract Pulp.
  • Sambar Powder [ सांभर पाउडर ], 2 Teaspoons
    → Adjust To Taste.
  • Turmeric Powder [ हल्दी चूर्ण ], 1/4 Teaspoon
  • Asafoetida [ हींग ], 1/4 Teaspoon
  • Tomato [ टमाटर ], 2 Medium
    → Chopped.
  • Onion [ प्याज़ ], 1 Medium
    → Chopped.
  • Green Chili [ हरी मिर्च ], 2-3
    → Slit. Adjust To Taste.
  • Curry Leaves [ कढ़ी पत्ता ], 1/2 Sprigs
  • Coriander Leaves [ धनिया पत्ता ], A few Grams
    → Fresh And Finely Chopped.
  • Salt [ नमक ], As desired
    → Adjust To Taste.
  • Mustard Oil [ सरसों का तेल ], 2 Tablespoons
    → Use Any Oil Of Your Choice.
  • Mustard Seeds [ सरसों के बीज ], 1/2 Teaspoon
  • Fenugreek Seeds [ मैथी दाना ], 1/4 Teaspoon
  • Red Chili [ लाल मिर्च ], 1
    → To Be Used For Tempering, Optional.
  • Water [ पानी ], As desired


Method for preparing Sambar

  • Pressure Cook the toor dal in plenty of water till soft and mushy. Make a note of it.
  • Soak the tamarind for approximately 15 minutes in warm water before extracting the pulp and setting it aside.
  • Place the chopped veggies, turmeric powder, and enough water to cover in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft. Make a note of it.
  • Heat oil in a separate pan. Allow mustard seeds to sputter. Fenugreek seeds and asafoetida (hing) are then added.
  • Saute the chopped onions until they become transparent.
  • Combine chopped tomatoes, slit green chilies, and curry leaves in a mixing bowl. Cook the tomatoes until they are tender.
  • Saute for a minute or until the spices are aromatic.
  • Add the salt and tamarind pulp. Allow to boil for a few minutes after thoroughly mixing everything.
  • To the saucepan, add the cooked toor dal and veggies, as well as their cooking water. Mix everything well.
  • To get the required sambar consistency, add additional water. Allow the flavors to mix for around 10-15 minutes on low heat.
  • Warm a tiny amount of oil in a separate small pan. Allow mustard seeds to sputter. Optional
  • Pour this tempering over the sambar that has been made.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves, if using.
  • Your delicious South Indian Sambar is now ready to serve.
  • Serve with idli, dosa, rice, or any other South Indian meal that you like.

Health Benefits

  • Vitamin-Rich – Sambar contains vegetables such as drumsticks, carrots, and beans, which provide a variety of vitamins and minerals.
  • Protein and Fiber – Using lentils in sambar provides plant-based protein and fiber to the dish, encouraging satiety and helping digestion.
  • Complex carbs – Toor dal and veggies supply complex carbs, which are necessary for long-term energy.
  • Spice Benefits – Spices such as turmeric and fenugreek seeds have anti-inflammatory qualities.
  • Complete Meal – Sambar is often served with rice or idly, resulting in a well-balanced meal that includes carbs, protein, and veggies.

Although these components may offer some health benefits, it's crucial to keep in mind that everyone's experience may vary, and they must be consumed in moderation as a part of a balanced diet. If you have any specific health issues or concerns, it's recommended to speak with a healthcare provider.

To Conclude

Sambar, the staple condiment of South India, is a tribute to the region’s skill in blending tastes and appreciation of the simple. This fragrant stew is a delicious and healthy combination of veggies, lentils, and a variety of spices. Sambar, a staple of South Indian cuisine, has been around for a very long time.

Sambar is a common condiment that goes well with many South Indian staples including idli, dosa, rice, and vada. In order to produce the ideal taste profile, its preparation calls for a careful balancing act between various spices and other components.

Sambar is more than just a delicious dish; it also symbolizes the common culture of South Indian cuisine. Like the region’s cultural variety and unity, it brings together disparate aspects to form a wonderful whole. Sambar tells tales of heritage, regional pride, and learning to appreciate the little things with every bite.

Thank You

The pictures displayed on this website are usually royalty free stock photos taken from Unsplash, iStock, Pixabay, Pngtree, and other sources. We appreciate the work of the individuals who own them. This is to thank them for their work and let them know how much it is appreciated.

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