Sambar: Indian Vegetable Stew

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  • Total: 45 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Servings: 4 servings

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.


  • 2 cups Toor or Tuvar (split yellow pigeon peas)
  • 4 tablespoons Sambar Masala
  • 1 cup chopped eggplant (cut into 2"cubes)
  • 1 cup chopped potato (cut into 1"cubes)
  • 10 pearl onions, peeled and cored
  • 10-12 baby okra
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin
  • 10-12, 3" long pieces of drumstick (optional)
  • Golf ball-sized lump of tamarind
  • 3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 3 dry red chilies
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped fresh coriander leaves to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Boil the 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 cook until done.

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

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