Indian Cuisine


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“Sambar” a delightful lentil soup recipe from South India usually served with idli, dosa and vadas.

Making Sambar with my homemade sambar masala is not only therapeutic but also soul-satisfying for me. Idli sambar on a Sunday morning with fresh coconut chutney is my favourite brunch, it is healthy, gluten-free and it is vegan and that what makes it utterly delicious, guilt-free brunch.

This Sambar is made with many vegetables, and that is the way we like to eat it!

I like to add cauliflower, potatoes, radish, aubergine and ladies fingers (okra) in my Sambar but you can add vegetables of your choice!

Do you add onions and garlic to the “Sambar”? Hmm, delicious or oh not?

Well, that is how my mum always made Sambar at home, with lashing of garlic, onions, curry leaves and loads of ginger! Trust me with my homemade masala and all these ingredients, and your tastebuds will be dancing!

I like to make my Sambar with 1/2 ratio of pigeon peas (toor dal) and mung lentils to keep it light however traditionally it’s made with pigeon peas. I like to add tamarind to give that tangy taste if you can’t find Indian tamarind you can replace it with lime or lemon juice or Thai tamarind. You can also add a small piece of jaggery to balance the acidity, but I prefer the tangy taste.

After I did a live telecast on my Instagram there were many requests for the full recipe so I thought of adding a step by step Sambar recipe.

So this is how you make this Sambar recipe!

Chefs tips:

  • You can add vegetables such as aubergine, ladies fingers (okra).
  • You can make this sambar just with toor dal.
  • If you don’t want to make sambar masala at home, try brands such as Everest, MDH.
  • If you can’t find tamarind, use lemon or lime juice.
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4.92 from 24 votes


A delicious gluten-free, vegan Sambar recipe to serve with Idli, dosa or vadas.
Course Breakfast, Brunch, Main Course
Cuisine Brunch, Indian Cuisine, South Indian
Keyword Dosa, Idli, Idli Sambar, Sambar
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 6
Author Gayatri Singh


Sambar Masala

  • 1 1/2 cup coriander seeds
  • 10 nos dried chillies
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp chana dal (chick-pea lentils)
  • 1 tbsp urad dal
  • 1 tbsp toor dal (piegon peas)
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida
  • 4 sprigs curry leaves

Ingredients for Sambar:

  • 1/4 cup mung lentils
  • 1/2 cup pigeon peas (toor dal)
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 inch ginger crushed
  • 4 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1 cup radish diced (optional)
  • 1 nos tomato diced
  • 3 nos boiled drumsticks peeled and cut in 2 inch pieces
  • 1 nos potato medium diced
  • 2 tbsp sambar masala
  • 1 piece tamarind
  • 1 tsp jaggery powder optional
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 piece dried chilli
  • 1 tsp or to taste red chilli powder
  • A few curry leaves
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • coriander for garnishing


Instructions for masala:

  • In a heavy-bottomed pan, dry roast the coriander seeds on a low flame until fragrant or light brown colour. Add the asafoetida to the coriander seeds and continue roasting for a few seconds or until fragrant. Transfer it to a plate. Add the turmeric powder to the roasted coriander seeds and let it cool.
  • Dry roast the curry leaves until crisp. Keep them aside.Then roast the red chillies for a few seconds and keep them aside.Dry roast all the ingredients one by one until they are light golden brown in colour and fragrant.Let them cool completely.
  • Grind the roasted ingredients into a fine powder.Let the ground powder cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Instructions for sambar:

  • Soak the tamarind in water and squeeze well to extract the juice and set aside.
  • Pressure cook the rinsed moong and pigeon lentils with 2 cups water for 3 whistles or boil in 5 cups of water till it’s cooked. Mash the cooked dal and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a pot, add in the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and let them splutter. Add in the asafoetida and cumin seeds. Add in half of the curry leaves, onions and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes. 
  • Now add in the potatoes, radish, drumsticks, and cook till the potatoes are halfway cooked. Now add in the red chilli powder, sambar masala and salt.
  • Saute for 2 more minutes. Now add the mashed lentils, jaggery, tomatoes, tamarind and water.
  • Boil the sambar for 5 minutes and then add the green peas and let it boil for another for 5 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve hot with idlis.

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  • Reply Senguttuvan 2020-04-28 at 17:00

    5 stars

    Just like our Sambhar powder that we prepare.
    For Idly Dosa , yes these lentils will go well. For rice we prefer Toor dal alone.
    Very delicious Tiffin sambhar.

    • Reply Gayatri Singh 2020-04-29 at 10:17

      5 stars

      Thank you sir!
      Yes for rice, I would prefer just the tour dal too. 🙂

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