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Sambar is the main food for South Indians. This page discusses about Sambar for Lunch or Dinner. Typically a Tamil meal or South Indian meal will have Sambar or Kuzhambu then end with Rasam and/or Curd.

The recipe for Sambar used as side dish for breakfast is different. Check out this page for details.

Sambar has many health benefits. Sambar is in news now and then about its health benefits. One news article talks about how sambar can prevent colon cancer. Another article says Idly and Sambar as the most nutritious Indian breakfast.

Sambar is popular not only in India but also in countries like Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia.

There are plenty of Sambar recipes and it varies depending on the vegetables we use and the cooking method.

Here we will show case a Sambar recipe passed on thru generations in my family. We are going to make Murungakkai sambar. Instead of Murungakkai / drumstick, you can add any vegetables or a mix of veggies.

to pressure cook
for seasoning
for Sambar

Soak Tamarind in half a cup of water and keep it aside.

Wash toor dhal, add 2 cups of water and turmeric powder.
Pressure cook until 3 whistle. When the steam goes off, take the cooked dhal and mash them.

Photo of Toor dhal cooked and mashed - ready to use in Sambar

If you do not have a pressure cooker you will have to heat in stove for more than 30-40 minutes depending on the flame, until the toor dal becomes soft and mashable.

Optionally, you can pressure cook toor dal, finely diced onion, tomato, crushed garlic and pinch of turmeric powder.


While the above is going on, take a cooking pot, add 4 cups of water and heat for a few min.

For this recipe, we used a traditional cooking pot, an earthenware called as man satti.
Photo of water boiling in earthen pot


Cut the vegetables: Cut the drumstick into finger sized pieces, chop the onions, chop the tomato, crush the garlic - Garlic is optional. Cut the green mango.

Add all the veggies except green mango in the boiling water.


Take the soaked Tamarind from Step-1 and extract the juice. Add this in to the pot. Add the daal from Step-1 and then Sambar Powder.

Let this cook for about 10 min.


Now add the green mango and close the lid. Let it cook for about 10 min in low flame.


Seasoning: Heat oil in a seperate pan, add mustard seeds and when it done popping add dried red chilli. In about 10 seconds it will turn brown. Add asafoetida, curry leaves and coriander leaves. Mix them well and switch off the flame. Add it to the boiling pot in Step 5.

Note: Seasoning process is a quick 1 or 2 minutes process and will generate a spicy smoke. Adjust your kitchen exhaust fan accordingly. Take good care during this process as we do not want it to cook too much and get burnt. This process will enrich the flavor of the sambar. Maintain the flame to slow thru out the seasoning process.

Sambar is ready.
Transfer it to serving bowl, stir well and serve.
Photo of Murungakkai Sambar we just made using this recipe:

More photos/images of Sambar are here in this page.

Sambar is served with steamed rice.
Pour Sambar over rice, mix and then eat.
Adding Ghee to Sambar gives a whole new taste.
Usually we have a side dish to go with Sambar.

Typical Tamil meal or South Indian meal is a minimum 2 course meal with Sambar or Kuzhambu followed Rasam.

Popular side dish for Sambar includes:

Vegetarian side dish:
Potato fry, Plantain fry. If no vegetable is available just pickle will be great combo for Sambar. Also appalam or vathal is a good combination.

While there is a special recipe for Sambar to go with Idly or Dosai, the Sambar made for lunch is also a good combo with Idly or Dosai.

Another common use of Sambar is soak Idly or Medhu Vadai in Sambar to make Idly Sambar or Sambar Vadai.

Non-Vegetarian side dish:
Chicken deep fry, Fish fry, Mutton fry
Almost all non-veg side dishes goes well with Sambar as Sambar is little light and non-veg dishes are spicy with or without masalas.

Other names/spelling variations of Sambar:
Chennai sambar, Madras sambar, sambhar.

Leftover tips:
If Sambar made for lunch is leftover, that can be used as side dish for Idly or Dosai for dinner. This not only saves time for making side dish for dinner but also it makes a delicious side dish.

We are passionate about food. In this website we will talk about South Indian food, particularly Tamil food. We have organized the recipes based on veg and non-veg category or You can browse the photos to check out a recipe. Since we are global Indians, we are including few fusion recipes, experimenting different style of food. On each recipe page, you can click on ingredients/spices to learn more about them.

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