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Vegetable sambar served in a brown bowl with a stack of idlis and dosas on the side

How to make Sambar

This is an easy vegetable sambar recipe where I show you how to transform store bought Sambar Powder into an amazing Sambar. Perfect for idlis, dosas and uttapams.
Course Side Dishes
Cuisine Indian, South Indian
Diet Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 265kcal
Author Richa



  • ½ Cup Toor Dal washed
  • ½ Teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 4 Cloves Garlic peeled
  • 2 Cups Water


  • 1 Cup Vegetables cut into chunks (we used carrots and Mangalore cucumber)
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Oil
  • ½ Cup Sambar Onions or Shallots
  • 2 Green Chillies slit lengthwise
  • ¾ Cup Tomato cut into chunks
  • 1 Tablespoon Sambar Powder we used MTR Sambar Powder
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons Chilli Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Coriander Powder
  • 2 - 3 Cups Vegetable Stock/Water
  • 2 Tablespoons Tamarind Pulp made with tamarind soaked in hot water
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons Jaggery Powder or sugar
  • 1 ½ Teaspoons Salt


  • 1 Tablespoon Ghee
  • ½ Teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • ¾ Teaspoon Cumin
  • 3 Cloves Garlic unpeeled and crushed
  • 3 whole Dry Red Chillies
  • 1 Sprig Curry Leaves
  • ¼ Cup chopped Coriander



  • Add toor dal, garlic, turmeric and salt to a pressure cooker. Add 2 cups of water, mix and close the lid tight. Pressure cook on medium for about 6-7 whistles. The dal needs to be mashed, so ensure it is fully cooked. Cook it for longer if necessary.
  • Once cooked, lightly mash with the back of a spoon or a masher and keep aside.


  • Add carrots and mangalore cucumber to a large heavy bottomed pot on a medium flame. To this add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for 10-12 minutes or until the vegetables are tender but hold their shape. They must be just tender and should not be too soft or mushy. Remove from the pot and keep aside. Reserve the water.
  • Heat oil in the same large heavy bottomed pot on a medium flame. Once oil is hot, add shallots and saute for 2 minutes. Next add green chilli and saute till fragrant. Add tomato and saute for 5-6 minutes or until tomatoes are soft.
  • Add sambar powder, chilli powder, coriander powder and fry till the raw smell goes, about 1-2 minutes. Add the mashed dal and mix well. Add the boiled vegetables with stock water and mix. Add 2 cups of water and mix. Lightly season with salt and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Add tamarind pulp and jaggery powder and mix well. If the sambar is too thick for your liking, add the remaining one cup of water little by little till it reaches your desired consistency.


  • Heat ghee in a tadka pan or a saucepan on a medium flame. Once hot, add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. As they start to splutter, add garlic and fry lightly. Next add dried red chillies and curry leaves and fry till fragrant. Add chopped coriander and mix well. Turn off the flame and add this tempering to the prepared sambar.



  1. I like this sambar with almost fully mashed dal. If you like yours to be more chunky, do not mash it as much as I have. You can also reduce the cooking time for the dal by 5 minutes. 
  2. You can use any vegetables you like, such as drumstick, shallots, pumpkin, sweet potato etc., Remember to adjust the cooking time accordingly. 
  3. I have used MTR sambar powder in this recipe, you can use any trusted variety. 
  4. You can substitute fresh tamarind pulp with pre-packed tamarind paste. 


Calories: 265kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 10mg | Sodium: 1020mg | Potassium: 384mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 3107IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 2mg