Traditional South Indian Sambar: A Flavorful Lentil Stew

Dive into the heart of South Indian cuisine with this authentic Sambar recipe, a perfect blend of lentils, vegetables, and spices, offering a burst of flavors in every spoonful.
South indian cusine - sambar

As a culinary enthusiast with a deep appreciation for authentic South Indian cuisine, I am thrilled to share a classic recipe that is a staple in every South Indian household – Sambar.

Imagine a dish that perfectly balances tangy tamarind, aromatic spices, and hearty lentils, creating a melody of flavors that dance on your palate. Sambar, a quintessential South Indian dish, is a flavorful lentil stew enriched with vegetables and infused with a special blend of spices. This dish is not just a testament to the rich culinary heritage of South India but also a versatile accompaniment to many South Indian delicacies like idlis, dosas, and rice.

Primary Ingredients:

  • 1 cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables (carrots, drumsticks, okra)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp sambar powder
  • 1/2 tsp asafoetida (hing)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 2 dry red chilies
  • A sprig of curry leaves
  • Fresh coriander for garnish

Preparation Instructions:

  • Rinse and cook the toor dal in 3 cups of water until mushy.
  • Mash the dal and set aside.
  • Soak tamarind in warm water, extract the juice, and set aside.
  • In a pot, combine the tamarind juice, chopped tomato, mixed vegetables, turmeric, salt, and bring to a boil until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add the cooked dal and sambar powder to the pot. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  • In a separate pan, heat oil, add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, dry red chilies, asafoetida, and curry leaves. Let them splutter.
  • Add this tempering to the sambar and mix well.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander.

Nutrition Information:

Sambar is rich in protein and fiber due to the presence of lentils. The vegetables add essential vitamins and minerals. A single serving provides approximately 180 calories, 9 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and essential nutrients like iron, magnesium, and potassium.


This traditional South Indian Sambar is not just a dish; it’s an experience that brings a piece of South India to your dining table. Perfect for any meal, it offers a delightful taste and nutritional benefits, making it a must-try recipe for anyone exploring South Indian cuisine.