The Authentic Sambar Recipe


Sambar – a delicacy only known in South Indian homes has now moved on to acquire a universal appeal. The hot and spicy soup made of lentils and several other vegetables is a primary accompaniment for most of the south Indian food items, which include Dosa, Medu Vada, Steamed Rice and Idli recipe whatever you may think of.

Preparing an authentic South Indian sambar may be a little tough task without the proper knowledge of the ingredients and the instructions for preparation. We help you prepare the authentic sambar in today’s post with the recipe for sambar powder.

About Sambar

Sambar is a stew or soup made with lentils and a mix of different vegetables. It is a South Indian accompaniment for most of the food items and is made with the pigeon lentils, tamarind and a unique mix of spices called sambar powder. You will find all the recipes that include idli sambar recipe, sambar recipe for vada or even dosa sambar recipe to be almost similar.

The recipe is known by several names based on the regional differences. It is called sambhar in North India, Sambaru in Karnataka and Kuzhambu in Tamil Nadu. The primary ingredient that determines the taste and quality of sambar is the quality of sambar powder used. If you are an expert, you can prepare your own mix of sambar powder. You may also use your favourite brand of readymade sambar powders.

Ingredients and substitutes requirement for South Indian Sambar recipe

You will need the following ingredients for preparing the authentic South Indian sambar

  • 1/3rd cup Tuvar daal (also called Toor daal or Arhar daal)
  • ¼ Tea Spoon Turmeric powder
  • 1 cup chopped mixed vegetables.
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 5 to 6 curry leaves
  • 1 to 2 dry red chillies
  • A pinch hing or asafoetida
  • 1/3 cup onion finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sambar powder
  • ½ teaspoon seedless tamarind( You may also use tamarind juice)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
  • Water, oil to fry and salt to taste

Sambar is served as an accompaniment for breakfast items like Idli, vada, and dosa. It is also served as the stew for the steamed rice. The dosa sambar recipe needs to be a little thick, while sambar rice recipe should be of pouring consistency.

How to Make Sambar recipe?

Follow the steps here carefully for the South Indian sambar recipe–

1. Cook Daal

  • Cook the dal with enough water to be mushy and soft. While Tur dal is used for preparing sambar, you can also use other dals, such as moong dal or Masoor dal, for a change.
  • If you are cooking it in a pressure cooker, cook for 2 to 4 whistles. In traditional cooking, 9 mins of cooking should be enough.
  • Once done, mash the cooked dal with a masher or ladle. Make sure that the dal is soft and fully cooked. That would ensure a good texture.

2. Make Sambar Powder

  • Making sambar powder would need a lot of expertise. If you think you aren’t made for the perfect recipe of sambar powder, you can use readymade sambar powder available in the market.
  • To make sambar powder, dry roast 4 to 5 red chillies, 1 tablespoon chana dal, and 1 tablespoon Urad dal. Then add 1 table spoon of coriander seeds and fry till you feel the aromatic feel.
  • Now, dry roast ½ teaspoon methi seeds until dark. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and fry until it is aromatic. Cool them and grind them into fine powder.

3. Cook Vegetables

  • Rinse the vegetables and chop all the vegetables. Chop the vegetables that cook faster in large sizes. Vegetables that cook slower should be cut in small sizes.
  • Add all chopped vegetables to the pan along with one small or medium chopped onion and one small to medium tomato. Add ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, ¼ teaspoon kashmiri red chilli powder and salt. Add enough water and cook the vegetables.
  • Make sure not to overcook the vegetables.

4. Make sambar

  • Add the tamarind pulp to the cooked vegetables. You can prepare the tamarind pulp by soaking 1 tablespoon of tamarind in ⅓ cup hot water for 20 to 30 minutes. You may also use packaged tamarind paste. Mix it well.
  • Add 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of sambar powder. Add ½ to 1 teaspoon jaggery powder for an additional taste. However, adding jaggery is optional.
  • Add the mashed dal. Stir and mix well. If you think the consistency is too thick, you can add more water.
  • Simmer on a medium fire until the sambar comes to a boil.

Expert Tips

While the recipe above provides the means to prepare good sambar at home, a few tips can help you better the taste and aroma.

  • A proper combination of vegetables is essential.
  • Do note that the vegetables like brinjal, cucumber, and bottle gourd may alter the taste of the sambar.
  • Take care to soft cook the vegetables to bring more taste and flavour
  • It is important to maintain consistency. It should be thick but have a pouring consistency
  • Drumsticks are an essential ingredient to sambar. A sambar with no drumsticks is something not suggested. Of course, it not possible to prepare sambar recipe without vegetables of multiple varieties.

Recipe Card

Follow this easy sambar recipe for the best authentic sambar to accompany your favourite breakfast or dinner items.

Sambar Recipe

Servings 4 people


  • cup Tuvar daal (also called Toor daal or Arhar daal)
  • ¼ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 1 cup Chopped mixed vegetables.
  • ½ teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 5-6 Curry leaves
  • 1-2 Pcs. Dry red chillies
  • A pinch hing orasafoetida
  • cup Onion finely-chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Sambar powder
  • ½ Teaspoon Seedless Tamarind ( You may also use tamarind juice)
  • 1 Tablespoon Finely-chopped coriander
  • Water
  • Oil to fry
  • Salt to taste


  • Cook rinsed dal with turmeric and water.
  • Soak one tablespoon of tamarind pulp in water for minutes. You can also use tamarind juice
  • Add a little oil to a pan and add chopped vegetables.
  • Add water and soft-cook the vegetables.
  • Add sambar powder and jaggery powder
  • Add mashed dal and salt to taste.
  • Let the sambar simmer and then temper.


Note –           
      1. The ingredients may slightly change as per personal preferences.
  1. The mixed vegetables can include drumsticks, cauliflower, capsicum, carrots, radish, Potato, brinjal, French beans etc. Do not use more than 3 to 5 varieties of vegetables.
  2. If you do not have tamarind pulp, you can use tamarind juice. Kokum is also used for the tangy taste in some regions. But the sambar recipe powder needs tamarind in juice or pulp form.
  3. There is no specific vegetable that you need to use in sambar. Based on your interests, you can add any vegetable as long as it does not alter the taste. It is not easy to think of a sambar recipe without vegetables though.
Author: Smitha Moothedath
Cost: Rs. 75
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: South India, India
Keyword: Sambar Recipe


What is sambar?

Sambar is a lentil-based vegetable stew. It is a South Indian recipe and a most widely used companion for South Indian breakfast and dinner items. It is one of the popular recipes in South India, Sri Lanka and Maldives

What are the main sambar recipe ingredients ?

The primary ingredient of sambar is Toor dal. It is prepared along with toor dal and mixed vegetables. Sambar can be prepared with any vegetable, but primarily used ones include drumstick, okra, pumpkin, carrots, brinjals, french beans and small onions.

Can I use any type of lentils instead of toor dal?

Sambar is primarily prepared with toor dal. However, for a change, you can also use Moong dal or Masoor dal. Some of the recipes use a combination of these dals. You can also try out a few variations for the sambar recipe hotel style. 

How do I make Sambar powder at home?

To make sambar powder, dry roast 4 to 5 red chillies, 1 tablespoon chana dal, and 1 tablespoon Urad dal. Add 1 table spoon of coriander seeds and fry. Next, dry roast ½ teaspoon methi seeds until dark. Add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds and fry until it is aromatic. Cool them and grind them into fine powder.

Can I make Sambar in advance?

Yes, sambar can be made in advance. If you refrigerate within two hours of cooking, it can stay well for 2 to 4 days.

Join the Conversation

  1. I made sambar in my home today as per the above recipe. Really it was very tasty and delicious.

    1. Thanks Ma’am.

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