Drumstick sambar recipe – Sambar is a basic lentil soup from south Indian cuisine and is commonly eaten with rice or Idli & Dosa. There are not many variations of making sambar and the sambar powder too. In most sambar recipes, the ingredients used are same but what makes them different is the proportion of ingredients and the veggies used.
Sambar acquires its taste from the vegetables used. Most times vegetable drumsticks are used to make sambar which give a distinct taste. These are known as munagakaya, murungakkai or nugekkai in south Indian languages.
Drumstick sambar is also known as murungakkai sambar in Tamil cuisine. What I have shared here is the way we make it at home.
This drumstick sambar is made the same way as regular vegetable sambar which I had shared earlier. But the ingredients used here are different. Drumsticks replace all the other veggies in this recipe hence more drumsticks are used than we use in regular sambar.
1. Wash dal a few times with lot of water. Then fresh pour water to cook dal. I have used toor dal and just 2 tbsps of moong dal. You can use only toor dal also.
2. Cover and pressure cook the dal on a medium flame for 2 whistles or until completely soft cooked.
3. When the pressure goes off the cooker, mash the dal completely. It must be smooth.
4. While the dal is cooking, wash the drumsticks. Lightly scrape off the skin and cut them to 2 inch pieces. Discard both the ends. If you are using home-grown drumsticks then don’t need to scrape the skin.
Making drumstick sambar
5. Then add them to a pot along with shallots or onions and green chili. If you do not have shallots you can also use medium sized onions. Halve them and add. I do not saute the veggies but if you wish you can saute them for a 2 mins in 1 tsp oil. But there will be no difference in the taste.
6. Next add in chopped tomato.
7. Pour 2 to 3 cups of water. The amount of water to use depends on the consistency you prefer. I normally do not make very thick sambar.
8. Cover and cook until the drumsticks are half cooked.
9. When the water becomes hot, take a ladle full of hot water to a bowl. Soak tamarind in it. When the temperature reduces, mash the tamarind and set aside.
10. Check if the drumsticks are half cooked, then add in ginger garlic paste. If you do not like it you can skip but it adds lot of flavor.
11. Then add salt.
12. Next add sambar powder and chili powder (optional).
13. Now add in turmeric and mix well.
14. Cook until the drumsticks are completely done. By then the raw smell of ginger garlic paste and chilli powder goes away.
15. Then pour the tamarind water. I prefer to filter it.
16. Next put in fresh grated coconut. If you do not have fresh grated coconut just skip it. Do not use desiccated coconut or frozen coconut. Let the sambar begin to bubble.
17. Then pour the dal and mix.
18. Add in the coriander leaves and lower the flame completely Check the salt and sourness. If desired add more salt and tamarind if needed.
Tempering drumstick sambar
19. Pour ghee and heat it in a small pan on a medium high heat.
20. Add mustard, jeera and methi seeds. When they begin to splutter, add in garlic, red chili and curry leaves.
21. Then add hing.
22. Quickly pour this to the sambar and turn off the heat. I prefer to pour 2 to 3 ladles of sambar to the tempering pan as the aroma is totally different when done in that way.
23. Then I pour back the tempered sambar to the pot.
24. Serve drumstick sambar with rice, idli or dosa.
- The tempering is made with a generous amount of ghee which elevates the flavor and taste of this drumstick sambar. However if you are a vegan you can just temper the dish with any regular cooking oil.
- Ginger and garlic paste are not regular ingredients in a vegetable sambar but this recipe uses it as the key ingredient to enhance the flavor. If you do not eat garlic, you can skip the both ginger & garlic as I have not tested the recipe just with ginger.
- The next ingredient is the fresh coconut that adds a different taste & texture. If you do not have fresh coconut you can just skip it but do not use desiccated coconut or copra as it alters the flavor & taste of drumstick sambar.
- I have used toor dal and just 2 tbsps of moong dal. You can use only toor dal or a mix of both just like the way I did. Moong dal adds thick texture to the dal.
For the best taste use tender drumsticks. You can serve this drumstick sambar with rice, idli or dosa.
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ½ cup Toor dal or split skinned pigeon peas
- 2 tablespoons moong dal or skinned split green gram(optional)
- 1½ cups water to cook dal (use as needed)
- 3 vegetable drumsticks (cut to finger length)
- 10 shallots or 3 medium onions
- 1 tomato large chopped
- 1 to 2 green chilies
- ½ tablespoons ginger garlic paste (optional) (refer notes)
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1½to 2 tablespoons sambar powder
- tamarind Small lemon sized ball
- 2 to 3 tablespoons coconut Fresh grated
- ¾ teaspoon salt or use as needed
- 1 Handful Coriander leaves finely chopped
- 2 to 3 cups water (adjust as needed)
- 1 red chili (broken)
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- ½ teaspoon mustard
- ½ teaspoon cumin or jeera
- ¼ teaspoon methi seeds or fenugreek seeds
- 1 clove garlic crushed slightly
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 2 Pinches asafoetida or hing
Preparation for drumstick sambar
- Add toor dal & moong dal to a pressure cooker or bowl. Wash it well a few times and pressure cook with 1 ½ to 2 cups water. If cooking directly cook 2 whistles. If following the pot-in-pot method cook for 3 whistles on a medium flame.
- When the pressure releases naturally, remove the cooked dal and mash it well. It has to be smooth without any grainy texture.
- Pour 2 to 3 cups of water in a pot and add all the chopped drumsticks, onion & tomatoes. Cook all of these till the drumsticks are half cooked. You can add more or less water to adjust the consistency of drumstick sambar.
- While the veggies cook, take half a cup of hot water pour it to a bowl. Soak tamarind in it. When it cools down squeeze, and set aside.
Making drumstick sambar
- When the drumsticks are half cooked, add salt, turmeric, red chili powder, sambar powder and ginger garlic paste. Continue to cook till the drumsticks are fully done & tender.
- Next add coconut, tamarind water. Mash the dal to smooth and pour to the sambar. Mix well. Add coriander leaves. Regulate the flame to low.
Temper drumstick sambar
- On another burner add ghee to a small pan and heat it. When the ghee becomes hot add mustard, cumin and methi. When they crackle, add red chilli curry leaves and garlic. Add hing.
- Pour this tempering over the drumstick sambar. Turn off the stove. If you plan to refrigerate, do it immediately once it cools down. Serve drumstick sambar with rice, papad or idli dosa.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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