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Quick Sambar

Quick Sambar

SAMBAR (serves 6 as a side) 

This Sambar is the recipe of Susan Kumar.  Sue teaches Indian cooking in our school and this recipe is from her South Indian Vegetarian class, which is one of our most popular and longest-running class.  Check for more classes here.

Often the first course in any South Indian meal – served hot with plain steamed rice, vegetable accompaniments, pappadams, pickles & yoghurt. (A drizzle of ghee is also a tasty extra)


1 cup of red lentils

1 good tsp of tamarind concentrate (dissolved in 1 cup of hot water and ½ tsp sugar)

4 cups vegetables of choice: Eggplant/baby capsicum/onion (cut into 4cm portions)

3 cups of water

1tsp ground turmeric

3 tsp sambar powder

Extra water on hand

Small bunch of coriander for garnish.


4 tbsp veg oil

1 tsp asafoetida powder

½ tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

A few curry leaves


Cook lentils for approximately 10 – 15 minutes – cover slightly and keep an eye out for boilover. Put to one side. Try not to overcook.

It is pivotal to prepare your pot before cooking a sambar. This process is known as tempering. It is mostly done after a curry to ‘finish it off but in this instance, we temper the pot first


Heat oil in a saucepan or wok.

When hot add mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, and asafoetida – keep seeds moving so as not to burn, then add curry leaves.



Add vegetables to the pot and Sautee for a couple of minutes, add tamarind water, salt sambar powder and turmeric. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender.

Add cooked dhal, and simmer for 5 minutes if necessary add a little more water.

The Sambar should be a thickish soup consistency.

Garnish with fresh coriander.

Suggested Veg: BEANS, EGGPLANT, OKRA, ONION, TOMATO – always consider the cooking time of individual vegetables

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