Varutharacha Sambar

Sambar, also spelt sambhar, is a lentil-based vegetable stew or chowder cooked with a tamarind broth. It is popular in South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil cuisines.

Author Nalan


  • 1 cup Toor dal
  • 1 big Carrot (cubed)
  • 1 med-big Potato (cubed)
  • 2 Big Drumstick (cut lengthwise)
  • 1 big Tomato
  • Size of a lime Tamarind
  • 1 cup Grated coconut
  • 2.5 - 3 tsp Chilly Powder
  • 2.5 tsp Coriander powder
  • 3 small Onion (sliced)
  • 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
  • 2 tsp Chana dal
  • to taste Salt
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 5 small Onion (sliced, to temper)
  • 2 Dry red chilly
  • Curry Leaves
  • Coconut Oil


  1. Heat oil in a pan and add coconut. Roast it till it starts changing colour. Add sliced small onion (3), chilli and coriander powder, fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and chana dal. Keep roasting till the coconut becomes a rich dark brown colour. Make sure you keep stirring the coconut continuously, otherwise it may burn. Let it cool completely and then grind to a smooth paste.

  2. Wash the toor dal and pressure cook it with 2.5 cups water for 4-5 whistles on high flame (refer notes). Keep it closed till pressure drops, around 15-20 mins. Open the pressure cooker and mash the dal nicely with a wooden spoon or a whisk.

  3. Add vegetables, salt and 2 cups of water to the mashed dal and cook till the veggies are ¾th done.

  4. Soak the tamarind in 2-3 tbsp hot water and make a pulp. Add the tamarind pulp to the dal and veggies. Mix well.

  5. Add ⅓ cup hot water to the ground coconut paste and mix well. Add this to the dal veggie mix. Stir well. Let it cook for 5-7 mins.

  6. Do a taste test of sambar at this point and add more tamarind pulp, asafoetida or roasted fenugreek powder, if required. Also add more hot water, to adjust the consistency, if required.

  7. Heat oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds. Add sliced small onion(5), dry red chilli and curry leaves. When onion becomes golden brown, switch off the gas and add it to the sambar. Let it rest for 20-25 minutes, for ll the flavour to settle in.


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