Friday, September 4, 2009

How to Prepare Sambar

Sambar is a very popular dish and occupies an important place in South Indian Cuisine. A South Indian meal can never be complete without sambar. This is basic sambar which I have made with ashgourd/poosanikai. Learn how to make Sambar (South Indian-Tamil style) by following this easy Sambar recipe. 

how to make sambar-Pumpkin sambar

How to prepare Sambar-Pumpkin Sambar Recipe

How to prepare Sambar

 Prep Time : 10 mins
 Cook Time : 30 mins 
 Serves: 3-4
 Recipe CategorySambar Recipes-Side Dish
 Recipe CuisineSouth Indian

   Ingredients needed

   White Pumpkin/ash gourd/poosanikkai-3/4 cup (cubed pieces)
   Onion -1 (optional)
   Tur Dal -1/3 cup (Soak it in warm water for 15 minutes)
   Sambar powder - 2 tsp
   Tamarind- small lemon sized ball
   Turmeric Powder -1/4 tsp
   Salt - 3/4 - 1 tbsp rock salt or as needed (If using table salt use less.)

   For the seasoning

   Oil - 2 tsp
   Mustard seeds -1 tsp
   Hing/asaofoetida- a generous pinch
   Red Chilli -1
   Fenugreek seeds-1 tsp
   Curry leaves -2 sprigs

   For garnishing

   Coriander Leaves - finely chopped -2 tbsp


Keep all the ingredients for the sambar ready.

How to prepare sambar

Soak tamarind in 1 1/2 tumbler of hot water and extract the juice. Discard the pulp.

Pressure cook  tur dal by adding turmeric powder for 3 whistles. Mash it well and keep it ready. You can soak tur dal in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes and then pressure cook until soft. This will save cooking time. Tur dal should be cooked to a mush for the sambar to be delicious.

cooking tur dal

Peel the skin, discard the seeds and cut ash gourd (poosanikkai) into cubes. Chop onions (if using) and keep it aside.


Heat oil in a pan/kadai and add mustard seeds, when it splutters, add fenugreek seeds, red chilli, hing and curry leaves.

seasoning for sambar

Saute for a few seconds and then add chopped onions. Saute onions until it turns transparent, then add chopped tomatoes, pumpkin pieces and saute for a few seconds.

how to make pumpkin sambar

Add 1/2 cup of water, sambar powder and cook until pumpkin is half done. (Alternatively, you can cook pumpkin in a little water with salt separately and then add)

pumpkin sambar recipe

Once the pumpkin is half cooked, add tamarind extract and salt needed.

Keep it on medium flame and boil until the raw flavor of the tamarind goes. By this time the pumpkin will also get cooked well (see picture below).

poosanikai sambar

Add cooked toor dal along with needed water (approximately 3/4 cup) and boil for 5-6 minutes on medium flame. The consistency of this sambar should neither be thick nor thin, so adjust water accordingly.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice or idli, dosa.

Hot delicious pumpkin sambar is ready to be served with hot steaming rice. It can be had with idly and dosa also.

How to make sambar
Note -

I have added 1 tomato in order to reduce the use of tamarind.

You can prepare this sambar without onions also.

Instead of pumpkin any vegetables like drumsticks, ladies finger, brinjal, beans, carrots, capsicum, pearl onions, potatoes can be used to prepare sambar in the same manner. You can prepare the same sambar with mixed veggies like carrot, beans and potato also. Refer my Mixed Vegetable Sambar Recipe.

Check out more Sambar Recipes from Padhuskitchen.

South Indian Meals

South Indian meals
Sunday Brunch - Rice-Pumpkin Sambar-Pepper rasam-Keerai Kootu-Lady'sfinger curry
If you found this post useful, I would really love it if you pin it or share it with your Facebook fans or Twitter followers or Google+ circles today. All it takes is a simple click on the “pin it” “like,” “share,” “tweet,” or Google+ buttons below the post. It will keep me motivated. Thank  you!


  1. Hello..sambar looks yummy, you have a great blog, I love the health beauty tips, very informative.

  2. How much water would you use when you pressure cook the dal?

  3. Dear Mrs.Padma,

    Thanks a lot for providing ur valuable tips to prepare really helped me today....Am Hari, from Chennai, currently on deputation at Singapore for Project work...It so happens that in our apt one among the four of we coleagues take turn and do the cooking....Am an amateur at cooking as I have Happily had food cooked and given by my mother/Grandma as long as I was single and had food prepared by my wife after marriage. So when I had my turn today for cooking, I just happened to spot ur blog yes'day while searching for "How to Prepare Sambar" on google....and this morning I just followed what you had mentioned in your Method and I could make a really good sambar....I used Potato, Beans and Carrot instead of Pumpkin and the Sambar came out really well and waz appreciated by my colleagues and I liked it too. So A BIG THANK YOU TO U !! Have passed on ur blog sites link to my wife too and expect her to make more delicious food using your tips as shez already a gr8 cook !!
    Thanks once again !!

    Best Regards,

  4. hi padma, i started learning cooking now. This time going to prepare sambar. previous time i have tried aloo dhum with the help of ur blog. it came awsome. Thanx a lot :-)

  5. hi padhu,
    iam rohinimanikandan got married last only i know the way to kitchen struggled a lot for the first few days to cook. now becomingexpert my husband praised me for the improvement all those credits goes to padhus kitchen. every day i will ask my husband what does he want to have breakfast/lunch/dinner then i will get tips from padhus kitchen will cook accordingly. you know my husband till dont this secret. anyhow thanks my dear friend

  6. Hello..
    Your breakfast and lunch recipes were very much useful for me when my family was on vacation to native. I use to make phone calls to wife while cooking to clarity doubts. This time, she is surprised when my sms her the menu I prepared everyday!! Thanks a lot for your very nice blog..Kalyanaraman, Hyderabad

  7. Hi,
    Me and My wife enjoy ur blog tips and recipes... its quiet amazing how much you write about traditional foods ....v luv it ...Keep up the stunning work

  8. Hello,Mrs.PAdma,Possible to try readymade tamarind paste instead of tamarind extract?

  9. Karthik - You can use Tamarind extract. Mix it in water and then add.You can add 1 tsp flat.

  10. Adding a pinch of hing in the tadka gives sambar the extra flavour.

  11. How to Prepare Mullangi -onion sambar....

  12. what if Tamarind is soaked over night?

  13. Can you please tell me how to use kokum/cocum in sambar padhu? Ur dishes taste yummy and so I only need ur recipe for kokum sambar!
    Ps: kokum to be used in place of tamarind

    1. I have no idea as I have not made sambar with kokum but you can use kokum in place of tamarind.

  14. why do we add turmeric while cooking toor dal?

  15. If we are using tamarind paste how much tablespoon to be used

    1. Mix 1 tsp of tamarind paste in a cup of water and add.If you like it tart, add a little more than 1 tsp. But I feel 1 tsp is sufficient.

  16. Padhu mam I am great fan of your blog. All recipes are clearly explained. I am recently married and have started cooking all recipes of yours one by one.


Thank you for dropping by my blog.Hope you enjoyed reading the recipes.Your feedback and comments are appreciated. Comments with links to external sites will be deleted.