SAMBAR – साम्बर (Tangy & Spicy Vegetable Lentil Stew)

Last year, in January, I had shared the recipe for Pongal and although I had showcased sambar in the images along with the pongal, I had not shared the recipe for sambar. So, when Conscious Foods gave me the option to select one of their newly launched spice mixes, to create a savoury recipe for them, I was more than happy to pick their sambar spice mix over the chhole spice mix; also because I have already shared two type of chhole recipes; one of which is oil free and the other which is dhaba style (restaurant style). My previous post was also in collaboration with them where I had shared the traditional and delicious winter super food called Panjiri 

Conscious Food is a reputed and certified organic brand, which has been providing a curated range of organic and natural cereals, ancient grains, pulses, flours grains, natural sugars and power packed snacks, seeds and nuts besides cold pressed oils since the 1990s to complement the wellness life style. Conscious Food is recognized by ECOCERT (an international inspection and certification body for organic, fair trade and good agricultural practices) as an officially certified trading house. The company strongly believes in maintaining an ethical supply chain and sources responsibly-grown produce besides promoting indigenous varieties and following sustainable practices, wherever possible. Conscious Food is available all over India at premium supermarkets, specialty food outlets, gourmet food stores, and all major online retailers. Also check out their blog page where they have provided very handy info and insightful articles on various foods and ingredients and you can grab some delicious recipes too!

Before I proceed to the recipe let me share with you my product experience vis-à-vis the products that I had received for creating this post.

The company seems to have given a lot of attention and value to the quality they offer to their consumers. All their products that are used to create this post were of high quality. (You can the products that I had received in the picture below)

The packaging is sturdy which ensures freshness for longer time and also prevents damage to the product. 

Their A2 ghee is, by all means, of excellent quality and I found it to be as good as my A2 homemade ghee on all parameters – aroma, taste and texture (दानेदार – danedar / granular). I highly recommend buying their ghee if you are keen on a good quality ghar jaisa A2 ghee / desi ghee. 

I also liked the quality of their Kashmiri red chili powder. 

Their asafoetida / hing was beautifully aromatic and I used less than normal, to add that aromatic touch to the sambar. I found it better than other brands that I have tried. 

The sambar masala powder was hotter than most other store brought sambar masala powders that I have used in the past. So use the red chili powder judiciously. 

I really liked how they have provided a wooden spoon (inside the packet) along with the sambar power for measurement.

As for the cooking oil, I required lesser quantity than I usually do, for the tempering. For instance if I usually add two tablespoon for the tempering, I used only one and a half tablespoon of the Conscious Food brand. 

The tamarind was sharp, clean and without grit or dirt. 

Sambar is a very comforting and moreish kind of south Indian lentil preparation to which you add veggies of your choice or the ones that your family loves. The customary ones include pumpkin, bottle gourd, drumsticks (actually drumsticks are a must have for an authentic taste), French beans, pearl onions, carrots, etc. The north Indians love to add okra, potatoes, tinda and cauliflower to their version of sambar. You will find many variations of prepping sambar since each south Indian state, region, community and family has its own recipe. The spicy, tangy and hearty stew can be enjoyed with Idli, dosa, pongal and rice. In my mother’s household it was always served with piping hot steamed rice and a drizzle of ghee for a comforting winter meal.

Here is an interesting piece of information that is not a very common knowledge. Sambar is ubiquitous to south India and therefore it is widely believed to be a south Indian creation but it is actually not! It was created in the kitchens of Maharashtra from where it travelled to south India. The south Indians lapped it up and it eventually became part of the south Indian ‘food identity’. The Marathi version is tad sweet and thinner and unlike my daughter, I can’t appreciate the sweeter thinner version. For me it has to be the traditional south Indian style sambar, always 🙂

For Dal

½ C Tuvar Dal / Arhar Dal / Pigeon Pea Lentils

½ tsp Turmeric Powder

1/2 tsp Salt (add half salt as required)

1 Lemon sized Tamarind ball

For Cooking Veggies

1½ – 2 tbsp Cooking Oil

100 gm Pearl Onions / Madras Onion, peeled and washed

120 gm ripe plump Tomatoes, washed and finely choped

1/3 tsp Red Chili Powder (adjust heat to taste)

1 tbsp Sambar Powder

½ tsp Salt

1 sprig Curry Leaves

120 gm Drumsticks, cut in two inch size

100 gm Bottle Gourd, peeled and diced in small pieces

100 gm Beans, trimmed and cut in one inch size

For Tempering

1½ tbsp Desi Ghee

1 tsp Mustard Seeds

2 Whole dry red chillies

1 tbsp Garlic

1/8 tsp Asafoetida

1 spring Curry Leaves

½ tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder

Wash the dal two to three times, discarding the water each time. Soak the dal in ample of clean water for at least half an hour and max one hour. (I prefer the latter)

Soak the tamarind ball in half a cup of hot water and set aside for ten to fifteen minutes. Once the temperature of water is bearable, mash the tamarind and add more water if required. Strain and retain the tamarind water. Set aside.

Discard the water from dal and transfer the dal to pressure cooker. Add one plus three fourth cup water. Add salt and turmeric powder and bring the contents to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium and place the lid, with pressure valve, in place and pressure cook the contents for five minutes or for four pressure whistles. Switch off the heat and allow the pressure to release on its own.

Whisk the dal using a simple hand whisk or a ladle to break it down. Set aside.

In a sauce pan heat the oil and stir fry the onions till them become translucent. Add the tomatoes and cook till they become soft and mushy. Add the red chili powder, sambar powder, salt and curry leaves and stir for a ten seconds and then add curry leaves, bottle gourd and drumsticks. Stir for a few seconds and then add a cup and half of water and bring the contents to boil.

Once the contents come to boil, cover them and keep cooking on high heat for five minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure that the veggies do not catch at the bottom. Add more water only if required.

After five minutes add the beans and lower the heat and cook till the beans are nearly cooked. Pour the dal over the vegetables along with the tamarind water. Adjust the consistency of the dal. And keep cooking the dal on low heat while we prep the tempering.

For tempering, add the ghee in small frying pan and once it is hot, carefully add the whole red chilies and stir them around for even cooking. Tip in the mustard seeds. (You can cover the pan with a lid while the mustard seeds are crackling, since they will pop around) Add garlic and cook it, while tossing it around in the pan, till it turns golden. Next add the curry leaves. Be careful with the curry leaves as well as they will splutter oil.

Switch off the heat and add the asafoetida and Kashmiri red chili powder. (This way they do not burn and rather cook well in the residual heat) Pour the tempering over the sambar. And stir well. Adjust the quantity of water since the sambar will thicken as it sits.

Serve with rice and pour over some desi ghee for the ultimate flavour experience.

Serves 4 – 6

Note – The tuvar dal becomes frothy once it is boiled in water therefore, please ensure that your pressure cooker is not too small else the dal will gush out of the pressure valve while cooking, which can be dangerous.

Note – Since the sambar powder of this brand was on the hotter side, I suggest you add red chili powder judiciously.

Note – I used one and a half tablespoon garlic since we love loads of it in our sambar.

Note – Use half a cup of sliced regular red onions if you do not have access to pearl onions.

Note – If you are using store brought tamarind paste, use approximately two to two and a half teaspoons of it.

Note – Also feel free to adjust the amount of sambar powder to suit your taste.

You can follow and check details about the company and their product range on their WebsiteInstagramFacebook accounts

Thank you for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe! 


3 thoughts on “SAMBAR – साम्बर (Tangy & Spicy Vegetable Lentil Stew)

  1. Taruna,
    Such a comfort to see you making this Sambar with such a dedicated post towards the ingredients you have used. My girls love every bite of sambar with their famous tiffin Idli at the airport. Bookmarking this post to make it at home.

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