Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe (2024)

Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe

ByAnshu-April 11, 2020

A hearty stew made with yellow lentils, vegetables and heaps of aromatic spice powder, Sambar is a staple served with all the meals at every South Indian household. The flavorful lentil curry tempered with aromatic curry leaves, mustard seeds and whole dried red chilies makes for a delectable accompaniment whether having hot idlis, vada, dosa or even plain steamed rice.

It won't be incorrect to say that while sambar is majorly known for its tongue-tickling taste, it is also packed with a lot of health benefits; toor dal lends it that much needed dosage of protein, the vegetables provide it with all the essential vitamins and minerals and lastly, addition of hing and tamarind loads it with immune-boosting properties.

Having said that, every household has its own recipe of making sambar. Some like it to have thick, others a bit runny. Some like the chunkiness of vegetables whereas others like their sambar to be smooth. Some like it on a tangier side, others with just a hint or tartness. Whatever way you like your sambar, you will get the best of the taste only when using the freshly ground sambar masala powder. Don't be intimidated as I say this. Though the thought of grounding homemade masala may sound a lot of work, trust me, its the only key to getting the most flavorful sambar, so, don't shy away from doing a bit of hard work.

In the recipe below, I have also included the details for making the fresh ground homemade SAMBAR MASALA POWDER. Do take a look!!

Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe (1)
Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe


  • Toor Dal/Tuvar Dal - 1 cup
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chili powder - 1 to 2 tsp
  • Salt - as per taste
  • Peeled and cubed yellow pumpkin - 1 cup
  • Thickly sliced carrots - 1/2 cup
  • Sliced onions, preferably shallots or Madras onions - 1/4 cup
  • Drumsticks - 1 to 2, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • Finely chopped tomatoes - 1 cup
  • Sambar masala (recipe given below) - 2 To 3 tbsp
  • Jaggery - 1 tsp
  • A lemon sized ball of tamarind soaked in 1/4 cup of warm water
  • Oil - 2 tbsp

P.S - Please feel free to use any vegetables of your choice; eggplants, okra, radish also go well in sambar and are preferably added in South Indian households.


  • Whole dhaniya seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Methi seeds - 2 tsp
  • Jeera/cumin - 2 tsp
  • Black pepper corns - 1/4 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
  • Chana dal - 1/2 tbsp
  • Urad dal - 1/4 tbsp
  • Curry leaves - 10 to 12
  • Hing - 1/4 tsp
  • Whole dry red chilies - 3 to 4


  • Ghee/oil - 1/2 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
  • Whole dried red chilies - 2 to 3
  • Curry leaves - 10 to 12
  • Hing - 1/4 tsp

Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe (2)
Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe


Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe (3)
Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe


  • Start by grinding the sambar masala.
  • In a pan, dry roast chana and urad dal on low heat until light golden and aromatic. Transfer to a plate.
  • In the same pan, roast dhaniya, jeera, mustard seeds, methi seeds and black pepper corns, again on low heat. Once you start getting the aroma of the roasted spices, add red chilies and curry leaves. Dry roast them too until crisp. Transfer them too to the plate containing roasted dals.
  • Let the spices cool down then grind to a fine powder. Mix in hing and keep aside for later use.
  • Wash the dal and pressure cook it along with 3 cups of water, turmeric powder and salt for 3 to 4 whistles.
  • Let the pressure release, then whisk the dal to smoothen.
  • In a pan, add 2 tbsp of oil. Once it is heated, add mustard seeds. As they splutter, add sliced onions and saute until translucent.
  • Next add cubed yellow pumpkin, carrots and drumsticks. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Season with salt, red chili powder and sambar masala.
  • Give a nice mix.
  • Add chopped tomatoes. Saute for a minute or two. Cover and cook on medium heat until oil starts separating.
  • Now add the mashed dal in the vegetables. At this stage you can also add a little water to adjust the consistency of the sambar.
  • Squeeze out pulp from tamarind and mix in the sambar. Add the jaggery too.
  • Cover and cook the sambar for 10 to 12 minutes or until oil floats on top.
  • Give the sambar a nice mix.
  • In a tadka pan, add some ghee. Once the ghee gets hot, add mustard seeds, dried red chilies and curry leaves. As the mustard seeds splutter, turn the flame off. Add in hing and pour the tadka over sambar. Serve hot with idli, vada, dosa or steamed rice.
Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe (4)
Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe


Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe (5)


  1. Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe (6)

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Best Homemade South Indian Sambar Recipe (2024)


How do you make sambar taste better? ›

Adding chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and asafoetida in equal proportions along with sambar powder would make the dish even more delicious. More than curry leaves, coriander leaves should be added in sambar to make it more flavoursome. In Kerala, curry leaves are more preferred than coriander leaves.

How to make sambhar thick? ›

02/13Tips to make perfect Sambar

- If you want a dash of sweetness, add a small piece of jaggery while preparing Sambar. - If the consistency is too runny, balance it by adding a few spoons of rice flour to thicken it.

Why is my sambar so thick? ›

Sambar powder has ingredients like channadal, toordal which makes it thick. Its the daal itself which acts as a thickener at the first place. Adjust the quantity of daal instead of pouring more water to make more in quanity.

What is the difference between Kerala and Tamilnadu sambar? ›

Tamil sambhar has more dhania and hing (kayam) and brown fried in sesame oil with some chana Dal but with fresh grated coconut (kadalaparuppu). Kerala sambhar has less dhania and they also add tamatoes while grinding the masala sometimes the coconut is fried too with coconut oil.

Who makes the best sambar? ›

Best Sambar Powders
  • 24 Mantra Organic Sambar Powder.
  • Aashirvaad Sambar Masala.
  • Keya Sambhar Khada Masala.
  • MDH Sambar Masala.
  • Pushp Brand Sambhar Masala.
  • Tata Sampann Sambar Masala.
  • HOUSE OF KASLIWALS Sambhar Masala.
  • Suhana Sambar Masala.
Feb 28, 2023

Why is my sambar powder bitter? ›

If your sambar powders taste bitter, it's likely due to the natural bitterness of methi (fenugreek).

What is a good side dish for sambar? ›

Potato bonda, chilly bajji, onion pakoda, uddina vada and masala vada. And many more such as panner, rajma, dry grains fry would go well with sambar amd rice.

What do we call sambar in English? ›

Meaning of sambar in English

a dish made with lentils (= very small dried beans that are cooked and eaten) that is popular in South India and Sri Lanka: Serve the dosa with piping hot sambar and coconut chutney. Lunch and dinner typically include rice, two vegetables and a spicy lentil dish called sambar.

How do you balance sour taste in sambar? ›

Vegetables like potatoes and carrots are effective in absorbing the sourness and neutralising the acidic flavour of the curry. Also, these veggies will add a natural sweetness to the dish and give a contrasting texture to your curry. This can effectively work for sambar.

How much dal is needed for 20 people? ›

3 cups of urad dal.

What to do if sambar is too tangy? ›

  1. When making sambaar add lesser amounts of the sambar powder.
  2. If you have already added then for correction of taste, do the following.
  3. Add ripe tomatoes of native variety, common in Tamil Nadu. ...
  4. Sour native tomatoes.
  5. Fleshy Bengaluru tomatoes.
  6. Or add a little tamarind paste. ...
  7. For instant correction add a little lime juice.
Jan 7, 2020

Can I use lemon juice instead of tamarind in sambar? ›

As tamarind is used to add sourness in stews, chutneys and curries, you can easily substitute tamarind with lime or lemon juice. You will get a sweeter sourness using lime or lemons. Also, you will not get the darker brown color but it will work very well in most recipes.

Is sambar telugu or Tamil? ›

Sambar (Tamil: [saːmbaːɾ], romanized: Sāmbar) is a lentil-based vegetable stew, cooked with pigeon pea and tamarind broth. It is originated from South Indian cuisine and now popular in large parts of India and beyond.

Which is the best sambar in India? ›

Kerala Ulli Sambar: Celebrated for its delectable flavours, the Kerala Ulli Sambar stands out. This variation boasts a blend of sourness and spiciness for its generous tamarind paste. The aromatic curry leaves bring a unique flavour to this dish with roasted chana dal and mustard seeds.

Which state is most famous for sambar? ›

The story goes that the original recipe for sambar a dish which is so intrinsic to Tamil Nadu cuisine can actually be traced to Maratha ruler Shivaji's son.

How do you reduce the tangy taste in sambar? ›

Vegetables like potatoes and carrots are effective in absorbing the sourness and neutralising the acidic flavour of the curry. Also, these veggies will add a natural sweetness to the dish and give a contrasting texture to your curry. This can effectively work for sambar.

How to reduce sweetness in Sambhar? ›

Here're A Few Tips To Reduce Sweetness From Curries:
  1. Add Lime Juice. Adding a sour tasting ingredient such as lime juice helps add another layer of flavour to the dish. ...
  2. Increase The Quantity. You can dilute the sweetness of your curry by increasing the ratio of other ingredients. ...
  3. Add Yogurt. ...
  4. Make It Spicy.
Oct 4, 2022

What to do if sambar is sweet? ›

Adding too much salt or spice won't help you balance out the sweetness of a dish rather adding some seasonings and exotic powders can actually help you fix the taste of the dish. In fact, adding a melange of herbs can also save a dish. Adding lime juice can to your dish can balance out the sweetness.

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