Sambar

A flavor packed hearty and healthy lentil based curry stew called sambar that is very popular in South India. Filled with a variety of vegetables, sambar is mildly spicy with a slight tang from the tamarind and tomatoes. Absolutely delicious.

Flavor packed hearty & healthy South Indian lentil based curry stew filled with vegetables. It's mildly spicy and a tad sour from the tamarind & tomatoes.

Some people say that our destiny was written even before we were born.

I believe that.

I was born to be love chocolate cake. I was born to question the crunchiness of every fried chicken.

Most importantly, I was born to develop taste buds for my colon and breathe like a dragon. I was born to eat spicy food.

Unfortunately, Mr. V my lifelong partner wasn’t.

Story of my life really.

Flavor packed hearty & healthy South Indian lentil based curry stew filled with vegetables. It's mildly spicy and a tad sour from the tamarind & tomatoes.

This past week has been rough on Mr. V. He has been swamped with work (which is a good thing) and hasn’t been getting enough sleep. With sleep deprivation at bay, I’m pretty sure his digestive system needed as much help as it can from its master’s wife.

I decided to feed him something healthier, heartier & meatless (gasp yes!) yet still one of his favs.

Guys, meet Sambar.

Flavor packed hearty & healthy South Indian lentil based curry stew filled with vegetables. It's mildly spicy and a tad sour from the tamarind & tomatoes. Flavor packed hearty & healthy South Indian lentil based curry stew filled with vegetables. It's mildly spicy and a tad sour from the tamarind & tomatoes.

A lentil based curry stew that originated from South India. Mr. V have had his share of sambar when he was living in Malaysia. He loves it just because it wasn’t spicy.

The main ingredient for this sambar is toor dal (yellow pigeon pea) which is a beige colored lentil with a yellow interior. It has a delicious nutty flavor. It is cooked until soft and then added to the stew. Sambar is so versatile that you can replace the vegetables in this recipe with any of your favorite ones really.

For a non-spicy curry, this is superbly delicious. And this is coming from a spicy food lover. That says a lot.

Of course, I’d still prefer my spicy curry over this any day but for my Mr. V, I will NOT climb the highest mountain or swim across the deepest sea but I WILL enjoy a non-spicy curry with him.

X0X0

Flavor packed hearty & healthy South Indian lentil based curry stew filled with vegetables. It's mildly spicy and a tad sour from the tamarind & tomatoes. Tips:

1. If you do not have the time to soak the toor dal, skip it but you’ll have to cook it for longer (about 1 hour) and with more water (about 5 cups).

2. Korean green chili peppers are milder in heat and slightly sweeter than Jalapeno.

3. I did not include chili in my sambar powder (I’m sure you know why). However, if you want it with some heat, add some dried chilies when making the sambar powder or add chili powder according to your taste.

Flavor packed hearty & healthy South Indian lentil based curry stew filled with vegetables. It's mildly spicy and a tad sour from the tamarind & tomatoes.

If you’re into meatless curries like this, then you’re definitely going to love this Potato Eggplant Kurma (Korma). Silky smooth, ultra thick & rich kurma. A great depth in flavor with only vegetables but use meat if you like. So delicious & addictive.

Potato Eggplant Kurma

Also, if you haven’t already, check out my last post Tom Yum Noodle Soup. The ever popular Thai sour and spicy Tom Yum Noodle Soup. Ready in 20 minutes, it’s delicious & comforting.

Tom Yum Noodle Soup

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Sambar
 
Flavor packed hearty & healthy South Indian lentil based curry stew filled with vegetables. It's mildly spicy and a tad sour from the tamarind & tomatoes.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Malaysian
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • Sambar powder (Makes ½ cup)
  • ¼ cup coriander
  • 1 tbs chana dal (split chickpeas)
  • 1 tbs toor dal (split yellow pigeon peas)
  • 1 tbs urad dal (split black gram)
  • 1 tbs cumin
  • 1½ tsp black pepper
  • 1½ tsp turmeric
  • ¾ tsp mustard seed
  • ¾ tsp fenugreek
  • 10 dried curry leaves or 1 sprig fresh curry leaves

  • Toor Dal
  • 1 cup toor dal, washed thoroughly
  • 3½ cups water
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • ¼ tsp ground turmeric

  • 2 small Chinese eggplants, cut into bite size
  • 2 tbs ghee or oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into squares
  • 2 medium carrots, sliced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 5 fresh Korean green chilies, chopped
  • 2 small russet potatoes, cubed
  • ¼ cup sambar powder (from above)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2-3 tbs tamarind pulp/paste
  • Salt to taste

  • To temper
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1½ tsp mustard seed
  • 20 dried curry leaves or 2 sprig fresh curry leaves
  • 5 small whole dried chilies
  • 1 tsp onion powder
Directions
Sambar Powder
  1. Add all the ingredients for the sambar powder in a blender or spice grinder and blend until becomes fine powder. You will only use half the amount for this recipe. Store the remaining in an airtight container for future use.
Toor Dal
  1. Soak the toor dal in 4 cups water for 2 hours or more (the longer it soaks, the faster it cooks.). Drain and add dal into a large saucepan along with 3½ cups water, garlic and turmeric. Over medium high heat, bring the liquid to a boil. Skim the scum on the surface.
  2. Cover and simmer on medium low for 30 minutes or until soft to your liking. (I like mine semi soft with some bits mushy and others with a bite still). Roughly mash the dal. If the dal isn't soft enough and there isn't much water left, add hot water ¼ cup at a time and continue to simmer until soft.
Eggplant (Optional step)
  1. Over medium heat, add ¼ cup oil into a wok or pan and sear the eggplant until wilted and charred. Set aside.
Sambar
  1. In a 6 qt (or equivalent size) pot, add the ghee and heat the pot over medium high heat. Once hot, add the onions and fry until almost soft. Add the carrots and fry for a couple minutes. Add the tomatoes and green chilies and fry until they start to soften. Add the russet potatoes and the sambar powder. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the water and bring the liquid to a boil. Once boiled, cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Add the eggplant and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add the cooked dal, tamaring pulp and salt to taste. If the sambar is too thick to your liking, add more water and salt to taste. Add the spices from 'to temper', give the sambar a stir and serve with rice, roti, dosa or idli.
To temper
  1. Add 1 tbs oil to a pan and heat it over medium high heat. Once pan is very hot, turn the heat to medium and add the mustard seed, curry leaves and dried chilies. Once spices darken a little (within a few minutes), add the onion powder, give it one last stir and add the spices to the sambar. Do not burn the spices.
Notes
If you can't find spices from regular grocery stores, you can buy them from Mountain Rose Herbs. You can find dried chilies, dried curry leaves, mustard seeds, fenugreek..etc there.

 

 

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17 Responses

  1. Muna Kenny

    Sambar is my favorite (snack), don’t be surprised! I have it for breakfast with Dosa, and as a snack with some idli, now you know how much I love to eat 🙂
    Your sambar looks thousand times better than what I get from the Indian restaurant . Yum!

    • AiPing
      AiPing

      Sambar really is your favorite. I, on the other hand, really need my spiciness. Can’t help it. 🙂

  2. April

    This looks very good. I love stews but I always have to make them a bit spicy. I enjoy meatless meals every now and then.

  3. Branka

    What a delicious looking dish. Thanks so much for sharing. I have to say that flaky looking bread that you are serving along side the sambar looks amazing. Care to maybe share that recipe as well?

    • AiPing
      AiPing

      Hi Branka. I appreciate you dropping by. That flaky looking bread is what’s called ‘roti paratha’ or roti canai. I’ve yet made these babies from scratch so they were store bought. If you have Asian markets around you, you can find them at the frozen section. Let me know if you have other questions. Have a great day!

  4. Dee

    The colors are just amazing — you know it’s healthy — and exactly what I need!

  5. Linda @ Food Huntress

    Sambar is my new favorite recipe to try! Looks delicious! I’m making more and more vegetarian dishes because my daughter doesn’t eat meat now. This is a good one!

  6. Sarah

    I love stews and think it’s wonderful that this one is meat free! Can’t wait to try it! 🙂