Sambar - Lentil based Vegetable curry (Kerala Style)

Sambar is a lentil based spiced vegetable curry eaten predominantly in south India. There are multiple variants of sambar but the base masala doesn't change. Some people cook the sambar with a thick base gravy while a few others make the gravy thin. This one has a thick gravy base and you will need a blender / mixie to grind the ingredients. 

The reason I am calling it Kerala style is because this is how I remember my grandma cooking this dish. She would grind all the ingredients in a grinding stone by hand. She would always tell us that grinding and preparing the masala paste over the grinding stone is what brings the authentic flavour to the dish which a blender can never replace. As I don't have a grinding stone with me, I will have to make to with a blender for today. I have however tried to keep the recipe as authentic as possible.

Asafoetida1/4 tsp
Curry Leaves 15 number
Mustard 1/4 tsp
Oil 3 tbsp
Okra 500 gm
Onion 3
Red chilies 3
Salt To Taste
Sambar Powder 3 tbsp
Tamarind Size of a lime
Tomato 2
Toor dal 1 cup
Turmeric powder 1/4tsp
Water 8 cups

  1. Prep the Veg: Clean and Slice the okra into 2 cm long pieces. Slice one onion and all the tomatoes into chunks. Chop one onion finely.
  2. Prep the tamarind: Heat half cup of water and soak the tamarind in it for around 5 mins. Squeeze and strain the pulp and keep the tamarind water aside.
  3. Cook the dal: Cook the dal in a pressure cooker with water and turmeric powder for atleast 4 whistles. Once the pressure settles, open the cooker and mash the dal. Add 1 cup of water and mash the dal till it becomes a paste consistency. Use a ladle to mash the dal. 
  4. In a vessel, heat one tbsp of oil and roast the onion chopped into chunks. Once the onion cooks, add in the tomatoes and cook them for a few minutes. Then add in the dal,the chopped okra, the tamarind water and cook till the okra is cooked. 
  5. Prep the Masala: Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a pan, add in the sambar powder and asofoetida. Fry the powder for a minute making sure it doesn't get burnt. Add water to the powder mix till it reaches paste consistency. Add this masala paste to the dal and okra mixture. Add in the remaining water to the mixture and let it boil.
  6. Make the Tadka: In the meanwhile, in a separate pan heat tbsp's of oil, add in mustard seeds, curry leaves and red chilies. Once the mustard seeds crack, add in the finely chopped onion and roast it till the onion turns golden brown. Add this tadka to the sambar. 
  7. Add salt to taste and cook the sambar for another 5 mins. Then turn off the stove. Sambar is ready to serve.

  1. To cook 1 cup of dal add 3 cups of water and pressure cook.
  2. To make the masala paste, you will need approximately 3/4 to 1 cup of water. 
  3. You can add in vegetables of your choice, instead of okra. Okra is another name for lady's finger in some parts.
  4. Add in more water to adjust the consistency of the sambar if you like it thinner. 


Abida said...

This sounds so warming and delicious, love the sound of sambar. Love your styling too.

Kitchen Chemistry said...

Thanks Abida

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