Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sambar - Curried lentils and vegetables in spiced gravy.

This post is part of SADYA VIBHAVANGAL – Learn to make the traditional Kerala Feast- An Artist’s Edible Palette !

Kerala Sambar is a curried lentil and mixed vegetables preparation in thick gravy. Unlike its popular cousins from the neighboring states of Southern India, Kerala Sambar is cooked with a wide variety of vegetables. In some regions of Kerala, roasted coconut is added as a taste enhancer as well. At home, we prepare a simple one but with some preference for certain types of vegetable to control the taste of the dish to our liking.

Ingredients: (Approx.)
For pressure cooking:
  • ½ cup Thuvara Parippu/toor dal
  • 2 ½ cups water
  • Salt to taste
  • A drop of ghee
  • A pinch of turmeric
For Sautéeing:
  • 1 small tomato, diced
  • 1 baby brinjal, diced
  • 1 small size big onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup of mixed vegetables like Vendakkaya/ladysfinger, Kumabalanga/Ash gourd, plantain, carrots, and drumsticks)
  • A small piece of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 small garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 green chillies, slit opened lengthwise
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp chilly powder
  • 2 tsp Eastern Sambar Powder
  • ½ tsp tamarind paste or to taste
  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds/jeera
  • ½ tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt to taste
For seasoning:
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 dry red chillies
  • 2 pinches of Asafoetida
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves
For garnish:
  • Coriander leaves
  • Wash parippu/dal/lentil thoroughly in water. Along with water, turmeric powder, ghee and salt, cook washed Parippu/dal/lentil in a pressure cooker, in medium heat, until it is cooked and soft. For me it takes around 4-6 whistles. Please note that cooking time varies depending on the variety and brand of the dal and pressure cooker.
  • Heat oil in another deep vessel, and splutter cumin seeds/jeera. Sauté thinly sliced onions until they become soft and then add the thinly sliced ginger, garlic and green chillies and cook for a minute. Add powdered spices like, turmeric powder, coriander powder, chilly powder and Eastern Sambar Powder, one by one and sauté till the raw smell goes. At this stage add diced tomatoes and other vegetables like diced baby brinjal, carrots, ash gourd, cubed plantains and lady fingers and drumsticks and coat the veggies in spices thoroughly, by stirring gently. Add ½ to ¾ cup water or just enough to cook the veggies, tamarind paste and salt and cook till vegetables are soft. Now add the pressure cooked parippu/dal /lentil to this veggie mix and blend everything together. Add water if the consistency is too thick. Adjust the salt and bring it to a boil and remove from the heat.
  • In a small shallow pan, heat oil and splutter mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, dry red chillies and asafetida and some curry leaves and pour this over to the cooked dal and veggie mix. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves.
Updated on Aug 14th, 2008: For the last step, while seasoning, instead of using coconut oil you may try using ghee which gives a divine aroma to this dish, taking it to a whole new taste!


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  1. Thats an interesting recipe.. U have a nice blog. Please visit my blog :)

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. cookin"n good? has left a new comment on your post "Sambar - Curried lentils and vegetables in spiced ...":

    Hey auntie
    its me seby again , another wonderful recipe by the cooking "mishmash" A.K.A king of cooking.
    sorry to hear about your blog"s pics being copied, i have to tell you something auntie
    but i don't know if it will help, anyway the program you are using for your blog
    does not really help

    so try to use an other program to keep your blog safer.
    i know this because i asked my brother if he can help you and he told me this (he is a little computer techie)
    so..hope this helped
    thank you and talk to you later
    caio. :)

  4. Seby, I moderated your comment as I didnt want others to get ideas from the loopholes you mentioned :) Thanks again....but i dont know any other method to protect:( It was very nice of you to consult ur brother for ideas:)


  5. hello,
    i saw ur sambhar recipie.......but one doubt for me....we first cook all the vegetables except vendakkai and tomato first,otherwise ,it will get too smashed and added roaste spices to it......if we add all the vege together ,will it get smashed?????.......

  6. we dont use ginger and garlic in authentic traditional kerala sambhar

  7. hi,
    am a maharashtrian girl married to a nair boy..i always wanted to learn kerela receipes and surprise him.ur blog is like magic wand for me........thanks a lot.


  8. Gr8 recipie, I tried this recipie today and it turned out to be really good.


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