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Sambar image


Sambar is a stew or a broth in which vegetables are simmered in tamarind water, mashed pigeon peas and spices. It is a very popular South Indian side dish
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 1 litres
Author Hema Magesh


To cook lentils/dal

  • ½ cup tuar dhal/pigeon peas
  • cups water
  • a few drops of castor oil

Rest of the ingredients

  • 13-15 vendakkai/lady's finger/okra(125 g)
  • 1 medium sized big onion (50g)
  • 1 medium sized tomato(100 g)
  • a marble sized ball of tamarind (8g)
  • 1 tbsp oil (I use sesame oil/til oil)
  • 3 tsps sambar powder(homemade)
  • 1/2 tsp jaggery/sugar
  • salt to taste
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • a pinch of asafoetida/hing
  • water as needed

My Magic Mix

  • 1/4 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/8 tsp cumin powder
  • a big pinch of asafoetida/hing

For tempering

  • 2 tsps oil(I use coconut oil)
  • tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp split urad dal
  • red chilly (broken)
  • a few curry leaves


  • Take the pigeon peas/ tuar dhal in a vessel and pressure cook with the ingredients given under "to cook lentils". If you do not have a pressure cooker you can cook it in a saucepan. You may have to add more water.
    Vendakkai sambar steps 1&2
  • Wash and Chop the vendakkai/lady's finger into half finger-sized pieces. Cut the onions longitudinally and the tomatoes into small pieces. Soak the tamarind in 2 cups of water.
    Vendakkai sambar steps 3& 4
  • In a wide pan take the lady's finger and saute till all the water from the vegetable and the pan disappears. Saute for 2-3 minutes more in medium flame. Then add 1 tbsp of oil and saute. for a minute or two. Then add the onions and ½ tsp of sugar or jaggery and saute for a few more minutes till it starts browning at the bottom.
    Vendakkai sambar steps 5&6
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and ½tsp of salt, mix well. Reduce flame, cover and cook till the tomatoes get mashed.
    Vendakkai sambar steps 7&8
  • Add 2 tsps of sambar powder and the turmeric powder. Give it a mix and add 2 cups of tamarind water. Adjust salt to balance the tanginess and cook for about 7-10 minutes in medium flame, till the vegetable is done.
  • Once the lady's finger is cooked add the mashed tuar dal and mix well. Let it come to a boil. In a cup of water mix up another tsp of sambar powder and add it to the sambar. Bring this to a boil and switch off.
  • Finally sprinkle the magic mix, temper with the items mentioned under tempering and pour over the sambar. Garnish with coriander leaves and 1 or 2 tsps of ghee.