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Sambhar – The traditional way
Prep Time
20 mins
Total Time
30 mins
  • 1/2 cup toor daal / split pigeon pea / paripu
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste or dried tamarind soaked in 1 cup of warm water
  • 1/2 tablespoon jaggery or to taste optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon oil coconut oil ideal
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1/8 cup coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon methi / ulava / fenugeek seeds
  • 5 dried red chillies
  • 2 sprig curry leaves
  • VEGETABLES: Please refer notes for more vegetable option
  • 8-10, pieces of drumsticks
  • 1/2 cup carrots cut lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup onions or shallots cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 green chilly
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 tablespoon ghee / clarified butter / oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 red chillies
  • 2 sprig curry leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing / asafoetida
  • 1 teaspoon red chilly powder for color(optional)
  1. COOKING DAAL: Cook daal/lentil with turmeric + salt in 2 cups of water. If using pressure cooker, cook till you hear about two whistles. Smoothen the daal out with a whisk or ladle.
  2. ROASTING: Add oil in a pan and roast the spices till coconut is dry and the spices release an aroma. Let it cool. Grind it to a fine paste by adding little water at a time as needed. (I used 3/4 cup water)
  3. Add the vegetables and the tamarind water, turn the heat to low and let it simmer until the vegetable cooks.
  4. Add the ground paste to the gravy and let it simmer for additional minute. Add jaggery. Taste and adjust the salt and sweetness if needed.
  5. SEASONING: Heat oil or ghee on medium high heat. Add mustard seeds. Once that splutters, add red chilly followed by curry leaves and hing / asafetida. Turn of the heat and add red chilly powder, if using. Add this to the gravy.
Recipe Notes

Use red chilly powder if you need color. Add kashmiri chilly powder /paprika if you want color and less heat.

Dried red chillies I used were quite spicy. Increase or decrease the amount of red chillies to adjust according to your spice level.

When it comes to sambhar, choice of vegetables are huge. You can use potato, eggplant/brinjal, winter melon, ladysfinger/ okra, beans, cauliflower to name a few. But using too much vegetables will make the sambhar mushy.
Dont omit the drumstick, because that has a unique aroma and flavor.

You can use coriander leaves for garnish.

Adjust the liquid as needed after adding the ground spices. Add hot water as necessary.
If you like the sambhar to be thick, cook the daal with only 1 and 1/2 cups of water.

Once the sambhar cools, it tends to thicken. You can add hot water and heat it up before serving.