Traditional Sambar

    45 mins

    I love Sambar when it's lightly spiced and has tamarind and coconut sauce. Serve hot with steamed rice.

    17 people made this

    Serves: 4 

    • 200g toor dhal
    • 475ml water
    • 100g tamarind pulp
    • 120ml water
    • 1 capsicum, sliced
    • 1 tomato, chopped
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
    • 1 teaspoon channa dhal (split yellow lentils)
    • 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
    • 2 dried red chillies
    • 2 tsp vegetable oil
    • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
    • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

    Prep:30min  ›  Cook:15min  ›  Ready in:45min 

    1. Place toor dhal in a pan with 450ml water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until soft, about 15 minutes.
    2. In another pan, mix together the tamarind pulp, and stir in 100ml water to make a watery juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the capsicum and tomato to the tamarind juice, and continue to boil until the vegetables are soft, and the liquid has reduced to almost half.
    3. Meanwhile, grind the coriander seeds, channa dhal, coconut and chillies to a paste using a mortar and pestle or food processor. Add this paste to the tamarind sauce, then stir in the toor dhal until everything is well blended. Bring to the boil once again, then remove from the heat and set aside.
    4. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium heat, and add the mustard seed, cumin seed and asafoetida. Once the mustard seeds start to pop and the mixture is fragrant, remove from heat and stir into sambar. Serve hot.


    Toor dhal used here is the most widely used one for sambar.

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    Reviews and Ratings
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    Reviews in English (14)


    This absolutely deserves negative stars. If you look at the recipe, it doesn't call for salt, sugar, or even enough water! That amount of tamarind paste is far too much. Good luck trying to balance the sourness of the tamarind with that amount. The recipe doesn't even call for garlic, onion, or curry leaves. I know everyone makes sambar their own way, but this recipe is not written correctly.  -  03 Aug 2015


    I suggest adding 4 large tomatoes instead of 1 and halving the tamarind. If you don't mind the extra calories, a cup of coconut milk adds a delicious richness (don't use regular milk!). If using potatoes, prick them raw, dice into bite size pieces and cook them in the tamarind (or tomato) juice. Okra is GREAT in this recipe.  -  26 Oct 2005  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)


    Better pre-soak the peas. They'll never get soft in just 15 minutes cooking (w/o pressure). Seasoning is a good combination.  -  28 Mar 2004  (Review from Allrecipes US | Canada)