Go Back
+ servings

Sambar Recipe (easy / base version)

easy sambar recipe to make a basic homestyle south indian sambar for idlis or rice
Course Indian Curries, Main Course
Cuisine Indian, South Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 589kcal


  • ¼ cup toor dal (split yellow pigeon peas) *see notes
  • ¼ cup moong dal (split moong beans without skin)
  • ¾ cup peeled & cubed potatoes
  • ¾ cup roughly chopped onions
  • ½ cup roughly chopped tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoon salt divided
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 1 tablespoon sambar powder *see notes
  • ½ teaspoon tamarind paste (chinch)
  • ¼ cup chopped coriander leaves or as required
  • water as required

For tempering (tadka)

  • ½ tablespoon coconut oil
  • ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds (rai)
  • 10 curry leaves (cadipatta)
  • ⅓-½ teaspoon asafoetida powder (hing)


For pressure cooking the dal

  • Wash and rinse the dal (in this case - a mix of toor dal and moong dal), and pressure cook with 3 times the water (in this case - 1.5 cups of water) *see notes
  • Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles, till you get a smooth, chunk free dal.

For making the sambar

  • In a pot, add the cubed and chopped veggies (potatoes, onions, and tomatoes), 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder, and water to cook the veggies, which just needs to be enough to cover the veggies in the pot (in this case - 2 cups of water).
  • Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes on medium flame, till there is a proper boil, and the potatoes are cooked. Insert a fork in the potatoes to test if they are cooked.
  • When done, add the boiled dal to this, mix it in, and cover and cook for 5 minutes on medium flame, till the curry base comes to another good boil.
  • As the curry base is coming to a boil - in a small bowl, take about 2 tablespoon of water, add the sambar powder & tamarind paste to it, and blend it all together to make a spice blend.
  • When the curry base has come to a proper boil, add this spice blend to it, along with the rest of the salt (as required), chopped coriander leaves, and mix everything together.
  • Cover and cook on medium flame for another 5 minutes till there is another light boil.
  • At this time, also start getting the tempering (tadka) ready.

For the tempering (tadka)

  • In a tadka pan, lightly heat up the coconut oil, and add in the mustard seeds.
  • When the mustard seeds start to splatter, add in the curry leaves, roast for 5-10 seconds or so, and then add in the asafoetida powder, and mix everything together.
  • Roast for about 10-20 seconds, till the curry leaves, and asafoetida powder get lightly roasted, and then turn off the flame.
  • Add the tadka to the sambar, which should be ready by now, and mix it in.
  • Delicious homemade sambar is ready to serve.
  • Serve hot with rice or idlis. Or even dosas, apams & uttapams.



  1. Toor Dal vs Moong Dal - Traditionally, sambar used to be made using toor dal. But I personally prefer a blend of toor dal and moong dal, to retain the taste to some extent, while being easier on the stomach (as moong dal is easier to digest). You can choose to go with only toor dal or only moong dal to make sambar. 
  2. Vegetables for Sambar - I have used the veggies I always have on hand like onions, potatoes, and tomatoes, to make a basic homestyle sambar. You can add any other veggies of your choice too. Drumsticks are an especially popular choice.
  3. Tomatoes vs Tamarind - I have used both tomatoes and tamarind paste to add the sourness to the sambar. You can increase the quantity of either one, and skip the other. Add more tomatoes and skip the tamarind, or increase the quantity of tamarind paste, and skip tomatoes, and go with some other vegetable instead.
  4. Blending Sambar Powder - As shared in the recipe above, always ensure to blend the sambar powder in water to make it into a liquid-y paste of sorts before adding it to the curry, so that it blends well into the curry.
  5. Homemade vs Store-bought Sambar Powder - I have used homemade sambar powder (here's the link to the recipe for sambar powder I used), so I have adjusted the level of other spices in my sambar, based on what is present in the sambar powder. When you get store-bought sambar powder, you might need to adjust it a little to suit your tastebuds. For instance you can mix in a little chilli powder to make it a little spicier.
  6. Adding Spice - You can also add slit green chilli in the curry or a red chilli in the tadka to make the sambar spicier.
  7. Adding Sweetness - Some even add a little jaggery in their sambar powder or sambar to give the curry a hint of sweetness. I usually skip jaggery, but if you prefer a slightly sweet taste to the sambar, add in the jaggery powder.
  8. Water - Adjust water to alter the consistency of sambar based on your preference. You might also need to adjust salt accordingly.

Please note: The nutrition values are best estimates provided as a courtesy. The exact values can vary depending on the exact ingredients or brands used. If you rely on them for your specific diet and/or health issues, please consult a registered dietician or nutritionist.


Calories: 589kcal | Carbohydrates: 103g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 4721mg | Potassium: 1179mg | Fiber: 20g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 1436IU | Vitamin C: 252mg | Calcium: 182mg | Iron: 7mg