Hey! My name is Ann Ittoop and I am a South Indian/American South food blogger.

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Sambar (a south indian vegetable stew)

Sambar is one of those recipes that makes me think I could live off vegetarian food. For a pot full of vegetables, this stew sure does pack a LOT of flavor!

Sambar is made many different ways. In fact, different districts within South India all seem to have their own variation. From the types of vegetables used to the spice blends, the combinations are vast. Personally, I tend to love a good savory and sweet combination.

In my Sambar, I love to include golden potatoes and pumpkin or butternut squash. The podi (powder) I make perks up this sambar with earthiness and the tamarind adds the right amount of sourness to balance everything out.

I hope you enjoy making this Sambar recipe (and eat it with some idli or dosa!). If you decide to make this recipe or have any questions about how to make it, head over to my instagram @thefamiliarkitchen so we can connect and I can see how it turned out for you!


  • Toor Dal, 1 cup
  • Sambar Podi
    • Grated Coconut, 1/2 cup
    • Urad Dal, 1 tbsp
    • Curry Leaves, 1 sprig
    • Coriander Seeds, 1/4 cup
    • Cumin, 1 tsp
    • Dry Red Chilis, 3
    • Peppercorns, 1/2 tsp
    • Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
    • Methi (Fenugreek) Leaves, 1 tbsp
    • Asafoetida (Hing), 1 tsp
    • Turmeric, 1tsp
  • Vegetables
    • Drumsticks (Moringa), 3-4 pieces
    • Okra, 3-4 whole, tops cut
    • Roma Tomatoes, 2, large dice
    • Golden Potatoes, 1, peeled, large cubes
    • Carrots, 1 large, cut into rounds about 1mm” thick
    • White Pumpkin (Mathanga) or Butternut Squash, 1/2 cup, large cubes
    • Pearl Onions, 4, thinly sliced
    • White Onion, 1/2, large dice
    • Green Chilis, 2, slit longways
  • Tamarind Concentrate, 1 tbsp
  • Jaggery or Brown Sugar, 1 tbsp
  • Salt, 1-2 tbsp
  • Cilantro, 1/2 cup, chopped

Tempering Ingredients

  • Coconut Oil, 2 tbsp
  • Shallots, 1, thinly sliced
  • Garlic, 2 cloves, minced
  • Mustard Seeds, 1 tsp
  • Dried Red Chilies, 2
  • Cumin Seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Fenugreek Seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Curry Leaves, 1 sprig
  • Asafoetida (Hing), 1/2 tsp

img_5024HOW TO MAKE IT

Create the base.

In a pressure cooker, add the toor dal along with 2 cups of water. Pressure cook on high for about 10 minutes. Once cooked, mash the dal to make the water thicker. This will be your base to create a thick sambar.

Make the podi (powder).

To make the sambar podi, take a deep skillet and put it on the stove on low heat. Start by toasting the grated coconut until it’s lightly golden. Now add in the remaining podi ingredients and keep the spices moving around the pan on low heat. We’re just toasting this until the spices release their aroma (about 1-2 minutes). Let this cool completely.

Now grind the spice mixture with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Blend this into a paste. The powder might have some light coarseness to it – that’s ok.

Pressure cook the veggies.

Put the okra in a small skillet with about a tsp of oil. Lightly roast this just enough to cook the outer layer. This helps reduce stickiness once we add it to the pressure cooker.

Now add all of the cut vegetables, about 4 cups of water (or enough water just to cover the veggies), and the sambar podi paste to the pressure cooker. Mix this then pressure cook on high for about 10 minutes.

Season and temper.

Once the veggies are cooked, add the tamarind, jaggery, and salt.

In a small skillet, add the coconut oil. Once melted and hot, add the shallots and saute until lightly golden. Add the garlic and cook until soft. Finally, add the mustard seeds, dried red chilies, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds pop, turn off the heat then mix in the asafoetida. Pour this into the sambar.

Flavor trick: put about a 1/2 cup of the sambar in the tempering skillet and swirl it around to pick up any last bits of spices then pour it back into the sambar.

Check for salt, garnish with fresh cilantro, and done!

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