Mixed vegetable sambar recipe – how to make south indian mixed vegetable sambar recipe

Sambar is a lentil, tamarind and vegetable based curry or stew and very popular in South India. The story is that it got originated in the kitchen of  Thanjavur.  Maratha ruler, Shahuji during the 17th century from the southern Indian state of Tamilnadu tried to make a dish called amti (Maharashtrian curry) and experimented with toor dal or pigeon peas  instead of mung bean, and tamarind pulp for  kokum and the court named it sambhar after the guest of the day, Sambhaji, second emperor of the Maratha empire. (adapted from Wikipedia)

Sambar is prepared either with single vegetable or a combination of various vegetables like brinjal, ladies finger, radish, pumpkin, potatoes, tomatoes, onions and drumstick.  In coastal Karnataka and Tamil nadu, where coconuts are grown in plenty, sambar is prepared with a paste of freshly ground spices and grated coconut instead of sambar powder.  It gives more taste to the sambar.  Sambar is usually served with steamed rice in south indian cuisine. But it is also served as an accompaniment for idlis, dosas and vadas.

In this sambar recipe, I have used a mix of vegetables like shallots, carrots, French beans, capsicum and tomatoes, tur dal, tamarind pulp and freshly ground spices.  You can also prepare sambar in a pressure cooker, but traditionally the vegetables are cooked first and then mashed dal is added to the vegetables.  You can add your own choice of vegetables like radish, drumstick or pumpkin.  But do not add too many vegetables, otherwise you will have more vegetables than the sambar or gravy itself.

You can also try Udupi sambar, drumstick sambar, small onions sambar, brinjal sambar from my blog


Prep Time :  25 mins

Cook Time :  20 mins

Servings :  4 persons

South Indian cuisine


Mixed vegetables – 1 cup (carrot, beans, capsicum) (1/2 carrot, 1/2 capsicum and 3-4 french beans)

Sambar onion (shallots or small onions) – 10 to 12 nos (if not available,use one regular onion chopped to medium pieces)

Tomato – 1 (chopped to medium pieces)

Tur dal – 1/2 cup

Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Tamarind – one  lemon sized ball

Oil – 4 tablespoons

Hing or asafoetida – a pinch

Few curry leaves

Whole red chillies – 4


Coriander seeds – 3 tablespoons

Chana dal – 2 tablespoon

Urad dal – 1 tablespoon

Mustard seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

Methi seeds – 1/4 teaspoon

Whole red chillies – 8 nos

Grated coconut – 1/2 cup



Wash and soak tur dal for half an hour.  Pressure cook for upto 4 whistles.  Once cooled down, mash the dal and keep it aside.  Soak the tamarind in hot water and extract one cup of tamarind water and discard the pulp.  Boil the french beans, carrot and capsicum with enough water and till just cooked.  Set aside.


Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a kadai or pan.  Add coriander seeds, chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, methi seeds and red chillies.  Roast on a medium flame till the raw smell goes away and dals turn light brown in colour.  Add grated coconut and saute for half a minute on low flame.  Switch off the flame.  Once cooled down, grind all the roasted ingredients with little water to a smooth paste.  Set aside.



Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a pan.  Add mustard seeds and when it splutters, add hing, curry leaves and red chillies and saute for few minutes on low flame.  Add shallots or small onions and stir-fry till they turn light brown in colour


Once the onions are cooked, add tomatoes and saute till they become little soft.


Add tamarind water and salt and mix well.  Allow it to boil till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.  Then add the sambar paste or masala.  Mix thoroughly.


Cook for another two minutes on a low to medium flame. Add the mashed dal and boiled vegetables and mix again.  Add water if required to bring it to a medium consistency.


Simmer the sambar for another 5-6 minutes on low to medium flame till it thickens a bit.  Switch off the flame.  Mixed vegetable sambar is ready to be served.


Serve mixed vegetables sambar hot with steamed rice and papads.


Adjust the consistency of sambar by adding little water along with the dal.

Add the mashed dal only after the tamarind water comes to a nice boil and raw smell of tamarind goes away.

You can also use ghee instead of oil for seasoning.

Add little jaggery if you prefer a sweet taste of sambar.

Soak the lentils for 30-40 minutes for faster cooking.

Sambar stays good for upto 2 days when refrigerated.

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