Sambar rice also known as sambar sadam is one of the everyday foods from the Tamil cuisine. It is nothing but Sambar and rice cooked together as a quick fix to a meal. There are so many ways sambar rice can be made, this may not be a authentic style of making sambar sadam. But definitely yields one of the best & delicious sambar rice. It is made on the same lines as the Bisi bele bath from karnataka cuisine & Vegetable Masala Khichdi.
Sambar rice is a dish made with lentils, rice, mixed vegetables, spices & herbs. It is a delicious, flavorful & protein packed dish that is also healthy & nutrient dense. Sambar rice is best served with papad & some buttermilk or lassi.
To make this sambar rice, I have used brown rice and a small quantity of white rice along with dal. This is the way I make this recipe at home and sometimes like to replace brown rice with foxtail millets. (thinai arisi in tamil, korra biyyam in telugu, navanakki in kannada.)
However you can also make this using only white rice. If you are looking for ideas to include brown rice or millets to your diet but do not like the taste, then you may like this sambar sadam. The dish turns out to be super delicious with lots of aroma that comes from the sambar powder.
I would not say it is very quick to make sambar rice as it is not a one pot dish. But it does take less time than making an elaborate meal. You can also make this sambar sadam when you have guest home. This sambar rice, curd rice, some papads, Rava kesari & these mysore bonda will go well in your special menu.
For this recipe I have used fresh made sambhar powder which I have shared below, but you can also use a ready made one or make from this Sambar masala powder recipe.
1. Add ½ cup rice and ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp dal to a pressure cooker. I have used a mix of toor and moong dal. Wash and soak for about 15 minutes. Cook with 2 cups water for 1 to 2 whistles on a medium flame. You can use a combination of white and brown rice or white rice and fox tail millet. If using millets, soak at least for 2 hours.
2. If using brown rice, the texture turns out perfect even when the dal and rice are cooked together. Since brown rice doesn’t turn very mushy but the dal turns very soft and hence adds a smooth texture to the sambar rice. Mash the dal and rice. Dal must become soft and blend well with rice.
3. If you have ready sambar powder, skip this one and the next 2 steps. But i suggest making this powder to get a very flavorful dish. Dry roast the ingredients for making the powder. You will find double the quantity of ingredients as i doubled it to make this recipe twice. First roast dals with red chilies until lightly golden, add coriander seeds. When they get roasted, add methi, cumin. Switch off the stove when you begin to smell the methi good.
4. Add coconut and toss in the hot pan for a while. You can also skip coconut if you do not have.
5. Cool these and powder finely.
How to make sambar rice or sambar sadam
6. Heat ghee or oil in a pan. Add red chili, mustard and cumin. When they splutter add curry leaves and hing. When the curry leaves turn crisp, i set aside half of this seasoning to use at the last step.
7. Add shallots, carrots, beans and drumsticks. If you are short of time skip drumsticks since they lot of time to cook. Chayote/ chow chow or mullangi can also be used.
8. Saute well for 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, red chilli powder (optional) and turmeric. You can also skip tomatoes. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes.
9. Add 1 cup water and cook until the veggies are soft cooked.
10. Make sure the veggies are cooked completely before adding tamarind. so check the drumstick & then proceed.
11. Add salt.
12. Add the sambar powder.
13. Simmer well for few minutes until the spice powder begins to smell good. Check if there is enough sour, salt and spice. You can adjust now.
14. Add the mashed rice.
15. Stir well and simmer until dal rice blends with the sambar masala. Taste test and add more salt, tamarind or sambar powder if needed. To add more sambar powder, simply stir it with little hot water and pour. Add more hot water if needed to bring it to a consistency.
16. Add the tempering that was set aside. This doesn’t give any special tadka flavor but i still prefer.
Serve sambar rice with papad and ghee.
Here are some tips that may be of help to you.
Tips to make sambar rice
- Sambar rice is usually made with short grain white rice. For a healthier option use whole grains like brown rice, millets, steel cut oats & quinoa. It is always healthy to soak the whole grains for few hours as the nutrients from soaked grains are better absorbed by our body.
- I always use 2 to 3 kinds of lentils to make any dal dish like dal fry, dal tadka, sambar or kootu. Different kinds of lentils provide different nutrients to the body so I make sure to use at least 2 kinds of lentils. For this sambar rice, I use toor dal & moong dal. You can also use only toor dal.
- To make the sambar rice I have used carrots, shallots, tomatoes & drumsticks. You can also use peas & beans. Use the veggies of your choice. If using drumstick then chop them to 1 inch sized pieces otherwise they will take lot of time to cook.
- I have also shared the recipe of sambar powder just enough for the recipe. However you can also use your own sambar powder or store bought powder. Just make sure you use a good flavorful sambar powder as this the key ingredient which is going to spice up your sambar rice.
- Tempering the spices in ghee brings in a unique aroma to the sambar rice. If you don’t eat ghee then you can also use oil.
- If you have some precooked rice & dal then you can simply transform that to sambar rice.
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
Ingredients for sambar rice
- ¼ cup toor dal + 2 tbsps (or 6 tbsp, refer notes)
- ½ cup rice (brown rice, white rice or millets)
- 2 cups water
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 pinch asafoetida (hing)
- 1½ tbsp ghee or oil as needed
- 2 pinches turmeric (haldi)
- ¼ tsp red chilli powder (optional, refer notes)
- 8 to 10 shallots or 1 medium onion cubed
- 1 drumstick (small or half, cut to 2 inch pieces)
- 1 carrot sliced or cubed
- 1 tomato medium, chopped
- 1 tbsp tamarind (Small lemon sized )
- ½ tsp salt (adjust to taste)
Sambar powder (or 2 to 3 tsps any sambar powder)
- ½ tsp chana dal (bengal gra)
- ½ tsp urad dal (skinned black gram)
- 1 red chilies
- ½ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1½ tsp coriander seeds
- ¾ tbsp coconut fresh or dry
- ⅛ tsp methi seeds or fenugreek seeds
Make sambar powder or use any ready made
- You can skip this step if you have sambar powder ready. To make the powder, heat a pan and dry roast urad dal, chana dal and red chilies on a medium flame until lightly golden. Meanwhile if you see the red chilies turn crisp you can set them aside.
- Then add coriander seeds and roast till golden. Then quickly add cumin or jeera. When they smell good remove to a plate. Then add methi seeds & roast. When the methi seeds begin to smell good & turn deep golden, turn off the stove.
- Cool all of these and make a fine powder in blender jar.
Preparation to make sambar rice
- Wash rice and dal together in a bowl or directly in the cooker. Then pour 2 cups of water & pressure cook them together on a medium flame. If cooking in a bowl cook for 3 whistles. If cooking in the cooker directly, then cook for 2 whistles.
- When the pressure releases naturally remove the rice & dal & slightly mash them.
- Heat ghee in a pan. Add cumin, mustard, red chilli & curry leaves. When they splutter and curry leaves turn crisp, add hing.
- Next add veggies and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Saute tomatoes along with red chilli powder, turmeric for 3 minutes.
- Pour 1 cup water and cook the vegetables until soft.
- Take some hot water from the pan to a bowl and soak tamarind in it.
- Mash the soaked tamarind when it softens and remove the pulp. You can also filter the tamarind water.
How to make sambar rice
- Check if the vegetables are cooked especially the drumstick. When the veggies are almost cooked, pour this tamarind water, salt and sambar powder to the boiling veggies.
- Cook until it begins to smell good for about 3 to 4 minutes. Next add the mashed rice and dal.
- Stir well to blend the rice & dal in cooked veggies. Check the salt and spice. Adjust salt, sambar powder and tamarind as needed.
- If needed add more water to bring to consistency. When it begins to bubble turn off the stove.
- Serve sambar rice hot with papad or pickle.
- If you prefer you can also do a additional tempering by heating another tbsp of ghee in a small tadka pan. Add a pinch of mustard, 1 broken chilli & curry leaves. When the leaves turn crisp, add hing & pour this to the sambar rice.
- Adjust the quantity of sambar powder as needed. The flavor of every sambar powder is different. You can add more or less to suit your taste.
- If you want to add more sambar powder later, stir it with hot water and pour to the boiling sambar rice. Let it cook for a while until flavorful.
- Using red chilli powder is optional. You won’t need it if using store bought sambar powder as it is spicier.
- You can use little moong dal.
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.
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