South Indian SAMBAR

Nowadays, you can eat any type of food from any part of the country at the comfort of your own home. Just by the click of a button, you can get it delivered in a matter of minutes. But the one that pleases you the most is, the dish that is prepared by your mom or grandma. Which you grew up eating every single day. Sambar is one of those dishes.

We Southerners are known for our accent, hospitality and delicious food. Sambar is our proud contribution to the culinary world. My mom makes the best Sambar in the world, you can smell the wonderful aroma of her sambar a mile away. Let me show you how to prepare this beloved lentil based curry which is truly a South Indian speciality.

Sambar & Potato fry – The Famous Combo

Seriously, who could say no to this yummy combo? If you ask any kids, teens or grownups from South India … what is your favorite, the most comforting, soul soothing food? I’m pretty sure a majority of them will say Sambar and potato fry. This popular combo is absolutely a crowd pleaser.

Let’s see how to make this mouthwatering SAMBAR…

This recipe Serves – 4 to 6


  • Shallots – 6-8 sliced
  • Carrot – 1 sliced
  • Chayote (chowchow) – 1/2
  • Avarakai ( valor / sugar snap beans) – small bunch
  • Tomato – 1 chopped
  • Green chilies – 2 slit
  • Sambar powder – 1 heaping tablespoon
  • Toor dal ( split yellow lentils ) – 1/2 cup (cooked and mashed)
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Tamarind pulp – 2 tablespoons
  • Salt – 1 1/2 teaspoons


  • Oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Black mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Asafetida – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Fenugreek powder – 1/4 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves – few
  • Chopped coriander leaves for garnish

  • Prep all the veggies, these are the veggies I use to make my sambar.
  • Traditional sambar has drumsticks, eggplants, pumpkin cubes, slivered raw mango, okra etc …
  • You can use any type of veggies that can withstand the cooking process.
  • Cook the toor dal, while it’s hot add 1/4 cup of water and mash it nice and smooth.
  • little bit of water we added keeps it from becoming thick.
  • It stays nice and mushy which makes it easier to add it to the simmering sambar later.

  • In a deep pan heat oil add all the veggies (except the tomatoes)
  • sauté it for a couple of minutes until the onions turn slightly translucent
  • Now add exactly 3 cups of water, turmeric powder, tamarind pulp and mix it well.
  • Adding the right amount of water in the beginning itself is key in making a good sambar.
  • Cover it with a lid and cook until the veggies are soft yet have a little bite to it. Takes about 10 minutes

  • Now add the tomatoes, sambar powder and salt. mix it will, let it simmer for a couple of minutes.

(Sambar powder is a fine ground spice mix made of dry roasted red chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, little bit of rice and channa dal). I have used my Mom’s homemade sambar powder, a secret recipe which has been passed on from generation to generation. When I run out of my mom’s sambar powder, my go to store bought brand is SAKTHI, this sambar powder has the authentic South Indian flavors.

  • Once you smell the wonderful aroma, add the mashed toor dal (lentils) mix it well.
  • Cover it and let it simmer in a low flame for a couple of minutes.
  • Meanwhile prepare the seasoning, heat oil in a small pan, add mustard seeds once it splutters add the curry leaves.
  • Take it off the heat and then add the asafetida and fenugreek powder and mix it well.

  • Once the sambar thickens up nicely add the seasoning and garnish it with coriander leaves.
  • Adding asafetida and fenugreek at the end of the cooking process really enhances the taste of the sambar.

Oh, the aroma is unbelievable! Our soul soothing sambar is ready, I just can’t wait to taste it

Mmm…it’s spicy, tangy and the veggies have absorbed all the flavors and the mashed lentils makes it so hearty and delicious. Is there anything in this world better than the homemade sambar?

We traditionally eat Sambar with rice, sides and crackers. The leftover sambar is treated so precious because it can be eaten with ghee idlis or crispy dosas. We literally eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s so versatile and it goes great with so many dishes. Does it get any better?

Sambar is a staple in my household, even though we eat this every single day, it never gets old! This is one of those dishes I make, the minute we get back from a long trip. A spoonful of sambar rice has the power to make you feel at home in an instant. This classic sambar has a special place in our festive meals especially in our South Indian Thanksgiving platter.

Thanksgiving is all about family, fun and delicious food. I’m definitely thankful for my mom’s homemade sambar powder. Even though I’m making it with her spice mix for 20 plus years my kids still say grandma’s sambar is the best. It’s truly unbeatable!!!!🍁Happy Thanksgiving 🍁

If you want to know how we celebrate our South Indian Thanksgiving click here *Published by Latha @

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