South Indian sambar is a delicious thick lentil stew made with dal aka lentils, mixed vegetables, tamarind & spice powder known as sambar masala. Vegetables like drumsticks, tomatoes & okra are used. This South Indian sambar is the best you can make at home to enjoy with your rice.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips.
4 to 5dried red chilies (kashmiri or byadgi) (less spicy variety)
How to make the recipe
Wash toor dal a few times in cooker or pot until the water runs clear.
Pour 2 cups water & pressure cook for 2 to 4 whistles depending on the brand of cooker. If cooking in Instant pot, press the pressure cook button & set the timer for 9 mins. If you do not have a pressure cooker, it can be cooked in a pot until soft adding more water as needed.
Rinse all the veggies. Scrape the drumsticks lightly & rinse. Chop them to 2 inch pieces. Peel the shallots as well & rinse.
Dice tomatoes & chop okra to 1 inch pieces. If using pumpkin, peel the skin & dice. Keep all these aside.
Make sambar powder - Skip this if you have the powder
While the dal cooks, make the sambar powder. Dry roast red chilies, urad dal and chana dal until golden & crunchy. Add coriander seeds & fry till aromatic. Remove to a plate.
Next add methi seeds and saute until slightly dark. Then add cumin, fry for a minute. Cool these and powder finely in a spice jar.
How to make sambar
Heat 1 tsp oil in a pot. Saute onions for 1 minute. Add all the veggies & saute for 2 mins.
Stir in the chilli powder (optional) and pour 5 cups of water. When the water turns hot, take ¼ cup hot water with a ladle to a bowl. Add tamarind & jaggery (optional). Set aside to soak.
When the veggies are cooked al dente, add turmeric, sambar powder & salt. Squeeze the tamarind and pour the tamarind water. I prefer to filter the tamarind water while pouring.
Cook for 3 to 5 minutes. When the pressure releases, mash the dal to smooth with a masher or ladle.
Stir it to the boiling sambar. Adjust salt and tamarind if needed. Bring it to a gentle boil and add coriander leaves.
Heat a small pan with ghee. Add mustard, cumin, methi & red chillies. When the spices pop, add curry leaves.
The leaves will turn crisp, then add hing & pour this to the simmering sambar.
Serve sambar with rice, idli, vada or dosa.
Tips for refrigerating
Set aside the desired portion to refrigerate in smaller containers.
Cool completely and refrigerate immediately. To retain the taste of sambar, refrigerate within two hours of cooking.
It keeps good for about 2 to 4 days. Bring it to a boil & make a fresh tempering.