Kerala Sambar

This Sambar recipe comes from Susan Cheryan who cooks this in the Kerala style. It is an ideal accompaniment to Idli. The recipe calls for Madras Sambar powder which may be purchased at Indian grocery stores. The recipe also calls for Tamarind paste. If you are not familiar with tamarind paste, here is a link where you can learn how to extract Tamarind paste. A quick & easy alternative,is just to use store bought tamarind paste.

If you do not care for a sour tang, or have never used tamarind in your cooking, reduce the amount of tamarind by one third of that suggested. You can always add more if the taste appeals to you.

As in all recipes, the lentils should be washed before being boiled. Similarly all vegetables need to be washed & chopped, or sliced before use. Toor dhal is also known as Tuvar dhal and Pigeon Peas. It is very good source of protein. The recipe ingredients are available at Indian grocers. You could also check if it is available at, The Quality Store


  1. ½cup Toor dhal
  2. ½tsp.Turmeric powder
  3. 1 tbsp. Tamarind pulp
  4. Approximately 2 cups of any combination of vegetables such as, carrots, beans, drumstick, squash, tomatoes
  5. ¼ cup sliced onion
  6. 1 tsp garlic
  7. salt to taste


  • a few curry leaves & a few strands of shallots
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • ½tsp. cumin seeds
  • 5 tblsp. oil


  • Boil Toor dhal and cook until the lentils are still whole & almost soft
  • Wash, scrape or cut vegetables in about 1"-3" pieces. Add to pot with turmeric powder
  • Follow with sambar powder, salt and tamarind juice
  • In a separate pot, heat oil & add seasoning ingredients. Stir-fry quickly
  • Add the seasoning to the pot of Toor dhal & stir
  • Cook this mix until the dhal is blended like a thick sauce and the vegetables are soft. Taste & adjust salt
  • Enjoy! Eat with idlis, rice, roti or by itself

Delicious Sambar


Frozen Drumticks used in Sambar


Illustration of a block of tamarind: tamarind soaked in water & being extracted: the extracted pulp

For Susan's Idli recipe which accompanies Sambar, please check, Idli

If you are not familiar with making dhal, please note that the lid should be off the pot when boiling dhal on a high temperature. The contents will spill over if the lid is on. Once it is on a lower temperature you may keep the lid on or have the lid on partially.

The image of a selection of drumsticks, a sambar ingredient, has been cut in pieces. The actual drumsticks are long pods that grow to about 18 inches. They contain the seeds, so the drumsticks are actually seed pods. They are cooked in a number of ways, but is commonly used in dhal. The tree of this plant is tall, with fine tiny leaves, that is very high in Vitamin A. For interesting facts on this highly nutritious plant, images, what it is called in different regions of India, check this link, Drumstick

If you have any questions or would like to add a recipe of your own, email me, Nirmala, at email address
I will be happy to help in any way I can. The site will be regularly updated with tasty recipes and hints and tips. You can also reach me via the, Contact Form.

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