Kerala Sambar

Kerala Sambar

Kerala sambar is a sort of mixed vegetable lentil soup. It has many vegetables added to it .However, the basic process of making the sambar remains the same.The process involves 4 steps:-

1.Cooking the toor dal and mashing it.

2.Preparing the sambar masala.

3.Cooking the vegetables with sambar masala and other spices.

4.Adding the mashed toor dal and asafoetida to the cooked veggies and boiling it for a couple of minutes more.

The following vegetables are usually added to the sambar

  1. Ashguord
  2. Brinjal
  3. Pumpkin
  4. Ladies finger
  5. Carrot
  6. Tindly
  7. Beans
  8. Guar beans
  9. Snakeguord
  10. Potato
  11. Elephant yam / Suran
  12. Taro
  13. Plantain
  14. Drumstick

You don’t need to have all these vegetables. Anything will do except bitterguord, beetroot etc.This is my favourite recipe for Sambar. It yields quiet a thick gravy. YOU WON’T LIKE THIS IF YOU LIKE THIN SAMBAR.


  1. Toor Dal – 1/2 cup
  2. Curry leaf – 1 sprig
  3. Onion – 1 big (cut into 4)
  4. Shallots – 8 big
  5. Brinjal – 11/2 cup
  6. Plantain – 1 cup
  7. Carrot – ¼ cup
  8. Red pumpkin – ¼ cup
  9. Guar beans – ¼ cup
  10. Snakeguord – ¼ cup
  11. Drumstick – 1
  12. Ashguord – ¼ cup
  13. Ladiesfinger – ½ cup
  14. Tomato – 1 big ( cut into half)
  15. Green chillies slit – 4
  16. Red chilly powder – 1 tsp
  17. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp +1/4 tsp
  18. Tamarind – a small gooseberry sized ball
  19. Oil as needed
  20. Salt as needed
  21. Chopped coriander leaves – 2 tbsp
  22. Asafoetida(Kaayam) – ¼ tsp
  23. Jaggery – a small piece / as needed to balance all the flavours

For Sambar powder:-

  1. Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
  2. Coriander seeds – 2 tsp (heaped)
  3. Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  4. Peepercorns- ½ tsp
  5. Chana dal – 1 tsp
  6. Methi seeds – ½ tsp
  7. Urad dal split – ½ tsp

For Popping:-

  1. Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  2. Red chillies – 3
  3. Curry Leaves – a sprig
  4. Ghee – 1 tsp


Soak tamarind in 1/4 cup of warm water, squeeze and strain the tamarind extract. Reserve.

Cook toor dal in a pressure cooker adding ¼ tsp turmeric powder, a sprig curry leaf and 2 tsp coconut oil. Simmer for 10 minutes after 1st whistle. Mash the cooked dal and keep aside.

Roast the grated coconut adding 1 tsp coconut oil till golden brown and keep aside. Roast together chana dal, urad dal, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, methi seeds and peppercorns in 1 tsp coconut oil for 2 minutes. Grind the roasted dal and spices along with the coconut adding little water to a smooth paste. This is the sambar masala.

Heat 1 tbsp coconut oil. Add onion, shallots and greenchillies. Sauté for a minute. Add all the veggies (except ladies finger) and sauté for a minute.

Transfer to a pressure cooker. Add the sambar masala, 13/4 cups water, ¼ cup tamarind extract, red chilly powder, turmeric powder and 2 tsp salt. Simmer for 5 minutes after 1st whistle .Let the pressures completely subside before opening.

The cooked veggies

Cook the ladies finger separately with salt and water for 15 minutes.

Add the mashed dal, asafoetida powder, cooked ladies finger, ½ cup water, enough salt and jaggery to the cooked veggies. Let boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add the chopped cilantro and remove from heat.

Heat ghee in a pan and allow mustard seeds to splutter. Add red chillies and curry leaves and fry for a minute. Now add the seasoning to the sambar and serve hot with steamed rice.

This entry was posted in Onasadhya, Traditional Kerala dishes, Vegetarian gravy for lunch. Bookmark the permalink.

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