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Authentic South Indian Sambar Recipe without coconut

Authentic South Indian Sambar Recipe - How To Make Authentic South Indian Style Sambar

Authentic samar recipe helps you to make traditional South Indian style sambar for idli, dosa and rice.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 274kcal


  • 1 cup toor dal (yellow split pigeon peas)
  • 1 cup elephant yam peeled and sliced
  • 3 tomatoes sliced
  • 2 lady finger (okra), sliced
  • 1 drumsticks diced
  • 8 small onions or shallots peeled and chopped
  • ½ medium sized cucumber seeds removed and diced
  • ¼ cup pumpkin peeled and diced
  • ½ cup more locally available seasonal vegetables peeled and chopped (this is optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coriander leaves (cilantro leaves chopped)

Spice Powders

  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon red chili powder
  • 4 tablespoon coriander powder
  • ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds powder
  • asafoetida a pinch
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste or about the size of half or a small lemon you can make the tamarind solution at home by dissolving a small sized tamarind (half of a small lemon in ½ cup of water for about 5 to 10 minutes)
  • 4 cups water or more as required
  • ½ teaspoon salt or as required

For seasoning

  • 2 tablespoon oil (preferably coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 4 dry red chilies optional
  • 3 shallots or small onions peeled and chopped
  • 1 string curry leaves


To prepare the vegetables

  • Wash and clean all vegetables. Sometimes you get veggies chopped and ready for recipes like sambar in many local supermarkets or Indian grocery sores. If you are buying whole vegetables it is important to cut the vegetables evenly as much as possible.
  • The traditional authentic South Indian sambar recipe calls for dicing vegetables in lengthwise, like little long pieces. Mostly all vegetables are peeled but an exception is vegetables like cucumbers which are not peeled but only seeds are removed. Then these vegetables are diced lengthwise and made into small but relatively long pieces. With drumsticks, you can scrape off the skin using a knife and then cut lengthwise and maybe slit each piece (no need to remove seeds).
  • You can cut all vegetables lengthwise, and try to cut them evenly as much as possible. Now the vegetables are ready to be used for authentic South Indian sambar recipe.

To prepare the sambar

  • In a pressure cooker, add the toor dal and 3 cups of water, close the lid and cook for about 3 to 4 whistles or about 10 to 12 minutes in medium heat. Always follow the directions in the manual while using a pressure cooker (including the use of the valve), as this is important for the safety.
  • In a pot or pan, cook the chopped vegetables other than tomatoes along with salt and 2 cups of water. Keep the vegetables covered and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until all vegetables are cooked and soft. Once the vegetables are almost cooked, you can also add the tomatoes and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes (during the last 4 to 5 minutes of cooking) so the tomatoes won't be overcooked. (You may also use a pressure cooker to cook the vegetables if you wish. If you are using a pressure cooker, you can cook the vegetables for about 2 whistles or about 8 minutes.)
  • Meanwhile dissolve the tamarind in ½ cup of water for about 10 minutes and then filter the contents and keep it aside.
  • Once the dal and vegetables are cooked wait for the pressure cooker to cool down before opening.
  • Once the pressure cooker is cool enough, open the lid and see if the dal is cooked and soft. Gently mash the cooked dal using a spoon or ladle.
  • Add the cooked vegetables to the cooked dal and add the filtered tamarind solution to the cooker.
  • Add all the spices also to the cooker containing the dal and vegetables.
  • Mix everything well, keep the lid of the cooker open and cook in low heat for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the spices are well blended with the gravy. We do not want to overcook the vegetables though.
  • Add the fresh coriander leaves to the sambar, this will add more flavor to the dish.
  • You can check if the salt is enough, add more if needed.
  • You can also check if the gravy is enough, if you need more gravy, you can add little more water and boil for another 1 minute.

Now the authentic South Indian sambar is ready to be served, we can prepare the seasoning to be poured over the sambar for garnishing and flavor.

    To prepare the seasoning

    • In a small pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds.
    • When the mustard seeds starts to splutter add the red chilies and curry leaves and fry for few seconds. Now add the chopped shallots and fry for about 1 minute. Seasoning is ready which you can pour over the sambar! Delicious and authentic South Indian sambar is ready to be served with idli, dosa or rice.


    You can use instant sambar powder instead of the spices, but I just wanted to show you how to prepare sambar the traditional authentic way of preparing using the spices. You can also dry roast spices (including whole spices like coriander seeds) and make your own spice blends. I mostly use all the spices as well as a little sambar powder to add more flavor, you can also use instant sambar powder or individual spices or a mix of both by adjusting the amounts as you like as using sambar powder is very common nowadays.


    Calories: 274kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 266mg | Potassium: 739mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 3275IU | Vitamin C: 68.9mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 3.2mg