So last weekend went by making Idli Sambar with delectable coconut chutney. My husband Varun loves Idli Sambar and this is one of my favourite too. I often tell Varun that I could eat South Indian food (Read Masala Dosa, Sambar, Idli and Vada) for breakfast, lunch and dinner and repeat the menu for days to come. Such is my love for the South Indian food.

Sambar is a versatile dish and can be eaten with Upma, Idli, Vada, Dosa and even rice. Infact Sambar rice is a staple food of South Indians. Sambar is rich owing to the fact that it’s made with a lot of veggies like Pumpkin, Okra, Onion, Tomato, Carrot, bottle guard to name a few. Vegetable choice is as per preference. We personally like Sambar with a lot of different veggies.

I have very fond childhood memories of my mom preparing Sambar rice for lunch in the weekends. I often observed my mom cooking in the kitchen and thus always knew the recipe for this yummy dish but never had any practical experience of cooking it.

It was last to last year when I arrived in Melbourne that the chef inside me took birth. Varun’s love for food inspired me to learn different dishes and different cuisines and fortunately the food never turned out that bad. Guess this is the power of love 🙂

Ok. So love is a different topic altogether and lets not divert to that.Lets get straight to the recipe and make delicious Sambar.

Serves – 2 people


250 gms tuvar dal (also called arhar dal or split pigeon pea)

chopped vegetables for Sambar: (Carrot, Zucchini, Pumpkin)

1 medium sized onion (thinly sliced)

1 medium sized tomato (finely chopped)

5-6 garlic cloves (finely chopped)

1 tbs tamarind soaked in water and set aside


1 tbs mustard seeds

1 tbs chana dal / Split Bengal gram

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tbs sambar masala (available in stores)

1 sprig Curry leaves

3-4 red chillies

Salt to taste

2 tbs vegetable oil

Cooking Instructions – How to make Sambar: 

Add dal, ½ tsp salt and water (double the amount of dal) in a pressure cooker and pressure cook until dal is soft and mushy. 8 – 9 whistles would be fine. Once dal is cooked, open the lid and mash it up with the back of a laddle. The dal should be very smooth as this gives a nice texture to Sambar.


While the dal is being pressure cooked, in the meantime add water to the chopped veggies and place them in the microwave for 5-7 minutes and half cook them.


Now add 2 tbs vegetable oil in a kadai/wok and heat it. Add chana dal/Bengal gram and saute for 30 seconds.


Once chana dal starts fluttering add mustard seeds and saute for 30 seconds. Then add red chillies, curry leaves and chopped garlic and saute and stir for another 45 seconds.


Now add turmeric powder and stir for a couple of seconds.


You will start getting a nice aroma of all the spices. Now add sliced onions and stir for 2-3 minutes. And then add chopped tomatoes. Close the lid and cook the mixture for a 5-10 minutes.


Once tomatoes are cooked add the half cooked chopped vegetables and stir well. At this point add 1 tbs sambar masala.


Now squeeze the tamarind pulp and sieve the water in a separate bowl. Add tamarind water to the veggies. Now add some water to the veggies, close the lid and cook the veggies completely stirring in between.


Once the veggies are cooked completely add boiled dal to the mixture. Close the lid and cook for some time. Adjust salt as per your preference. Can add sambar masala too as per your preference.


And yummy Sambar is ready to be served with coconut chutney and other accompaniments of your liking – Masala Dosa, idli, Vada or even rice.