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Sambhar Recipe

There might be a slight issue with the quantity. The quantity of Sambhar I made turned out a medium wok-full, some 1.5 litres of it. This would last me and bro for a week at least. Sigh…

Here I have tried to give lesser quantities and measures. If you use lesser amount of vegetable and dal you can reduce the quantity of Sambhar.

Pic taken in a rush, with a background score of tummy growls.


Sambhar Masala: 1 – tbsp.

I used the readymade version by Eastern Masalas (South Indian companies are preferable for South Indian masalas). Mom makes and stores her own Sambhar Masala. If you have the patience, here is the recipe:

Tur Dal – 1 cup (1/2 cup for a thinner Sambhar.) Pressure-cook it.

Tamarind – pulp or juice of one gooseberry or lemon sized ball.

Turmeric Powder – 1 tsp (Use ½ with the veggies and dal and rest with the seasoning)

Salt to taste.

For one bowl of Vegetables:

Preferably, use roots and tubers, gourds, aubergines, tomatoes, beans, drumsticks, okra. Here is a list of the veggies normally used in Sambhar (You can adjust the quantity of each vegetable according to your preference; the total quantity is better to be limited to one bowl / katora):

Yam (suran) – Cut into cubes approx. three quarters of an inch.

Potatoes – Diced into chunks (fairly large, for e.g. A medium-sized potato needs only be cut into 4 pieces)

Carrot: Quartered and diced into 1” sticks.

Pumpkin – Diced into cubes.

Bottle Gourd (lauki) – Diced into cubes.

Small Aubergines – Diced into fairly large chunks.

Drumsticks – Cut into index or little finger lengths.

Tomatoes – Diced into large chunks, preferably 4 pieces each.

Beans – Cut into 1.5” lengths.

Vegetable For Seasoning: Okra – Cut into 1” lengths

(The idea is to dice the vegetables into chunks of approximately the same size, except for the ones like tomatoes and aubergines which need to be slightly larger so that they do not completely disintegrate while being cooked.)

Note 1: Yam needs extra cooking time; if you plan to include it in Sambhar it might be a good idea to cook the yam separately.

Note 2: Keep the okra separately. Do not steam or boil it with the rest of the vegetables. Wash, pat dry and slice the okra and then fry it till they give this nice aroma (Do not crisp them.)

Note 3: There are two ways to cook the veggies –

Pressure-cook them separately. In the cooker tin, put in all the veggies except yam and okra and add a bit of salt and sprinkle some Sambhar powder (I used about 2 tsps. as I had a lot of veggies.) Use enough powder to coat the veggies lightly. Sprinkle some salt and turmeric and add a bit of water, half a cup or less. Pressure cook for 3 whistles. (I used this method, because I didn’t want the veggies to be overcooked)

Pressure-cook both dal & veggies together. Place the dal in the cooker and place the veggies in a small container on it. Pressure cook for 3 whistles. (This might result in the veggies becoming a bit overcooked and they might disintegrate in the Sambhar – but according to Mom, this is best for kids as they can’t really throw away the veggies.)

For The Tadka / Seasoning:

Small onions / Sambhar onions /shallots – 3-4 sliced

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp.

Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp.

Dried Red Chilli – 1 or 2

Curry leaves – 8 to 10 numbers

Asafoetida / Hing – A generous pinch.

A bit of chilli powder – optional

Oil for cooking

For Garnish: Coriander leaves – Coarsely chopped


In a large kadhai, heat some oil. When it’s hot enough, throw in the mustard seeds and as they splutter, add the fenugreek seeds, hing, dried red chillies, curry leaves and small onions (all the seasoning ingredients). Sauté till the onions are done.

Add the tamarind juice, turmeric powder and the rest of the Sambhar powder and let it boil. Add a bit of water if the mixture is too thick or it will burn. Boil until the raw smell of tamarind and Sambhar powder is gone. Add salt to taste.

Now add the vegetables (except okra) to this boiling mix. Mix well.

Add the cooked dal, mash it if necessary. And with the dal add a half cup of water. Adjust the water quantity according to the consistency you want your Sambhar to be.

Mix well and now add the fried okra.

Bring the Sambhar to a boil and add the coriander leaves. Let simmer a bit.

Tada! Your Sambhar is ready.

© Surya Murali

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