• Prep Time:
  • Cooking Time:
  • Serves: 1 Servings


  • Recipe Submitted by on

Category: Indian, Vegetables, Vegetarian

 Ingredients List

  • 3/4 c Toor Dhal
  • 1/2 ts Ground Turmeric
  • 3 tb Vegetable Oil
  • 1 c Shallots -- peeled *
  • 1 md Potato -- peeled & diced
  • 1 Tomato -- diced
  • 4 tb Tamarind Paste -- ** see
  • Note
  • 1 1/2 ts Salt
  • 2 tb Sambar Powder -- * see
  • Recipe
  • 1/2 ts Whole Black Mustard
  • 1/2 ts Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 ts Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Red Dried Chillies --
  • Crushed
  • 1/2 c Fresh Cilantro


* I use one medium sized onion peeled and chopped because I don't like

** if you can get tamarind use it and soak a fistfull in water for half
hour and then squeeze the "juice" out and discard the waste and use the
juice in the sambar.

Soak toor dhal in 4 cups water for one hour in a heavy-based pot. During
this time chop the onions (if you use instead of shallots), potato and
tomato (green beans and carrots may also be added).

Add the turmeric powder to the soaking dhal and place on stove. Bring to
boil, lower heat to keep the dhal simmering. Close pot and allow dhal to
cook till tender. Soaking dhal before cooking consideraby lowers the
cooking time which is about 30-45 minutes. Stir a few time to keep dhal
from sticking at the bottom.

While dhal is cooking lightly fry the onions or shallots in 2.5 tab.
vegetable oil. Do not allow the onion/shallots to brown. When dhal has
cooked add some more water to bring the water level up to 4-5 cups again
(use your judgement here because I cannot be more precise!). Now add the
potatoes, tomato, sauted onions/shallots, and any other vegetables to want
to put in. Next add the tamarind paste (or tamarind "juice"), and sambar
powder. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover and allow the cook until
vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes) and keep stirring occassionally.

Heat the remaining 1/2 tab. oil and add the mustard, cumin, coriander seeds
and the crushed red chillie to the hot oil. As soon as the mustard seeds
begin to pop stir the whole thing once and add to the cooking sambar.
Finally add the cilantro leaves and cook for another 5 minutes and remove
from stove.

The consistency should be like a thin soup and the sambar powder should not
appear like dirt sticking to the veggies (you will see this happen
initially). You may also add some green chillies if you like to add more
"zip" to the sambar. If so add it with the rest of the veggies.

Sambar can be eaten with plain cooked rice, idlies (I know I owe you all
this recipe!) or dhosas. Sambar is an integral part of South Indian
cooking. It is made every day. As I mentioned in San Antonio a visiting
naturalist from the Smithsonian Institute described a South Indian meal
thus: mountain of rice and river of sambar!

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