Sambar: Indian Vegetable Stew

Haynes/Flickr/CC 2.0
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
460 Calories
12g Fat
81g Carbs
19g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 460
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 6g 32%
Cholesterol 25mg 8%
Sodium 197mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 81g 29%
Dietary Fiber 25g 90%
Total Sugars 27g
Protein 19g
Vitamin C 88mg 439%
Calcium 490mg 38%
Iron 5mg 29%
Potassium 1647mg 35%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Samber is an Indian vegetable stew with tamarind that is typically served with Idlis (a savory cake), Vadas (fritters) or plain rice. Here's a simple recipe to try at home. You'll need pigeon peas (beige lentils), the sweet-sour notes from tamarind pulp, and a special spice blend called sambar masala.


  • 2 cups split yellow pigeon peas

  • 4 tablespoons sambar masala powder

  • 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

  • 1 cup potato, cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1 cup eggplant, cut into 2-inch cubes

  • 10 pearl onions, cored

  • 10 to 12 small okra

  • 10 to 12 (3-inch long) drumsticks, optional

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin

  • 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)

  • 8 to 10 curry leaves

  • 3 dry red chile peppers

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, or to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Boil the pigeon peas (lentils) and sambar masala with enough water till they are soft. The consistency should be that of a thick soup.

  2. Soak the tamarind in a small bowl of hot water for 10 minutes. Squeeze well to remove all juice.

  3. Add this purée to the lentils. Mix well. Add salt to taste.

  4. Simmer and add the potatoes to the lentils. Cook until the potatoes are half cooked. Now add the other vegetables and optional drumsticks, and cook until done.

  5. Heat the ghee in a small pan and add the curry leaves, dry red chilies, and mustard seeds, and curry leaves. Fry until the spluttering stops and add to the boiled lentils. Mix well.

  6. Garnish with chopped green coriander. Serve hot with Idlis, Vadas or plain boiled rice.