sambar (സാമ്പാർ—sampar)

Sambar(സാമ്പാർ) is a flavorful lentil curry or soup with tomato and vegetables popular in southern India. Sambar is typically soupy but can also be very thick. The variety of ingredients make it delicious, filling, and nutritionally balanced. Many variations use different vegetables, and spices can vary according to region and household; this recipe focuses on basic and essential spices for a Kerala-style sambar.

Sambar can seem complex with so many ingredients, but it’s not overly difficult. Cook lentils until smooth and prepare spices first. Cook vegetables and add in water, spices, lentils. Once everything is cooked through and the consistency is right, add tamarind. Garnish with coriander leaf and serve. Cook longer for a thicker sambar, or mix in some extra water for thinner consistency.

Serve sambar with idli or rice. It is a great dish for serving in large quantities, works well as a one-pot meal, and even makes a nice breakfast.


serves 4

2 cup toor dal(substitute masoor dal) or mung bean
1 tbsp coriander seed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp fenugreek seed
2 tsp mustard seed
2 tsp salt
2 clove garlic, minced
1 red chili, minced
4 shallot, sliced
2 tbsp turmeric root, peeled and minced
2 tomato, chopped
6 okra, chopped(optional)
2 cup pumpkin or squash, chopped
1/2 cup water(add more if you want it soupy)
1 sprig curry leaf, quickly roasted
2 tamarind water
coriander leaf, chopped

• simmer toor dal until smooth
• meanwhile, roast cumin, coriander seed, fenugreek seed, mustard seed
• let cool and grind
• sauté garlic, chili, shallot, turmeric
• add tomato, pumpkin, water, salt
• add spices, dal
• simmer until cooked
• add okra
• mix in curry leaf, tamarind water
• garnish with coriander leaf
• serve