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Cookbook | Ingredients | Recipes | Cuisine of India

The South Indian staple breakfast item of idli, sambar, and vada served on a banana leaf.

Sambar or sambhar (Kannada: ಸಾಂಬಾರ್‍, Malayalam: സാമ്പാർ, Tamil சாம்பார் (சாம்பாறு in Sri Lanka), Telugu: సాంబారు), pronounced "saambaar", is a dish common in southern India and Sri Lanka, made of dal (usually red gram, also called toor dal) and vegetables in a spicy tamarind and dal flour soup base. Sambar is usually poured over or alongside steamed rice. In the south of India, vada sambar and idli sambar are popular breakfast foods.

Several minor variants exist depending on the meal of the day, region, and the vegetable used. Sambar without dal (but with vegetables or fish) is called kozhambu in Tamil Nadu. There are major and minor variants of kozhambu (mor kozhambu, vathal kozhambu, rasavangi, etc.) Note that there are minor but subtle differences in preparation between all the variants (for instance, whether vegetables are added to the tamarind water or vice versa, which make them taste different).

Sambar with rice is one of the main courses of both formal and everyday south Indian cuisine. It is also served with idli, dosa and vada. It is not uncommon to eat sambar rice with appalam (papad).

Variation I[edit | edit source]

Ingredients[edit | edit source]

Procedure[edit | edit source]

  1. Wash the dal, and cook in the water with the salt until absolutely tender and soft, with no grains remaining.
  2. Add sambhar masala, sugar and vegetables, including the onions, and cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the tamarind after the vegetables are tenderly cooked.
  3. Heat oil in a saucepan, and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the whole red peppers and the curry leaves.
  4. Stir 2–3 times, then add the dal mixture. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Garnish with the coriander leaves.

Notes, tips, and variations[edit | edit source]

  • A variety of ingredients can be used for the mixed vegetables, including tomato, potato, brinjal (eggplant, aubergine, kath tharik kaai), drumsticks (moringa pods), lady's fingers (okra), and/or onions.
  • Sambar masala can be made by lightly toasting then grinding together the following spices: 5 tbsp coriander seeds, 3 tbsp of split dried channa dal, 2 tbsp sesame seeds, 20 strands of chilli, 3 tbsp dried coconut, 20 curry leaves, ½ tbsp fenugreek seeds, and 1 tbsp asafoetida powder. It can be stored for 1 month.

Variation II – Kerala/Tamil style[edit | edit source]

Ingredients[edit | edit source]

Procedure[edit | edit source]

  1. Wash and cook the dal until soft. Mash it.
  2. Heat the pan and pour 1 tsp oil, add asafoetida, chili powder, coriander powder, and coriander seeds. Fry them well.
  3. Now add coconut and fry till the mixture is dark red in colour (do not burn it). Remove from heat and let cool.
  4. Wash the vegetables, and boil them in a pot of water with the turmeric powder.
  5. When the vegetables are almost done, add tamarind paste and allow it to boil for some time.
  6. Grind the coconut mixture, then mix in the mashed dal. Stir this combination into the pot of vegetables, and let it boil for some time.
  7. Season with salt to taste, and mix in the mustard seed and curry leaves.
  8. Serve hot, garnished with the coriander leaves.

Variation III[edit | edit source]

This recipe is a sambar variation. Served over steamed rice, it makes for a simple but filling meal.

Ingredients[edit | edit source]

For 5–6 servings:

Dahl[edit | edit source]

Sambar[edit | edit source]

Procedure[edit | edit source]

  1. Bring the lentils and water to a boil. Reduce heat, add salt and asafoetida, and simmer until the lentils fall apart.
  2. To prepare the tamarind pulp, mix the tamarind mass with twice the amount of water, then work with a fork to remove pits; later strain the pulp.
  3. Heat the fat/oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds, and heat until they pop.
  4. Add fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, chili peppers, and salt. Fry 1–2 minutes.
  5. Add onions, and fry until glazed.
  6. Add garlic, ginger, eggplant, potato, carrot, and daikon. Stir.
  7. Move ingredients to side. Add chili powder to oil at the bottom of pot, then stir all.
  8. Add sambar masalar, and stir.
  9. Add 2 cups of water, and bring to boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5–10 minutes.
  10. Add tomato, green beans, and drumsticks, then simmer 5–10 minutes.
  11. Add coriander, dhal (cooked lentils with their liquid), and tamarind. Simmer until vegetables are soft.
  12. Serve hot over steamed rice.