Sambar – South Indian Vegetable Curry

“Sambar, a south Indian vegetable curry that is perfectly tangy, nutty and fragrant!”

This south Indian vegetable curry, known all throughout India as Sambar, is a labour of love. But I promise it is well worth the effort. The tanginess from the tamarind, complemented against the nuttiness of the dal and fragrant ghee elevates this vegetable curry into an ethereal plane of deliciousness!

The assortment of vegetables chosen imparts the base flavour to the curry. So for this recipe I have chosen to use shallots, carrots, tomatoes and okra. Although, feel free to mix them up with any seasonal vegetables of your choice. Just bear in mind the different cooking times of your chosen crop of vegetables. I can assure you, this curry will become a recipe staple and one of your home-cooked favourites!

Sambar – South Indian Vegetable Curry

Recipe by George AlexanderCourse: MainCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Hard


Prep time


Cooking time





Sambar, a south Indian vegetable curry that is perfectly tangy, nutty and fragrant!


  • to cook lentils
  • 3/4 cup toor dal, or split pigeon peas 

  • 5 cups water

  • to cook vegetables
  • 9 shallots, sliced

  • 1 green chilli, slit

  • 1 tomato, diced

  • 2 medium carrots, diced into 1/2 inch slices

  • 10 okra

  • 4 cups water

  • tamarind pulp
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste

  • 1/4 cup water 

  • spice powder mix
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander powder

  • 1 tbsp chana dal, pounded into a powder 

  • 1 tsp urad dal, pounded into a powder

  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder

  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek powder 

  • 1 tsp chilli powder

  • 1/8 tsp turmeric powder

  • to temper 
  • 2 tsp ghee

  • 1 sprig curry leaves

  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds

  • 2 pinches asafoetida

  • to garnish
  • handful coriander leaves, chopped


  • Wash the toor dal several times until the water runs clear.  Add the toor dal along with 5 cups of water and cook on a low flame for 1.5 hours covered or until the dal has become soft. Mash the dal into a paste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 
  • Mix the tamarind paste with water until properly dissolved, removing any tamarind seeds from the pulp. Set the pulp aside. 
  • Pour 4 cups of water into a pot and add chopped shallots, green chilli, tomato, carrots and okra. When the vegetables have cooked through add the prepared spice powder mix, tamarind pulp and mashed dal and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Heat the ghee in a sauté pan and add mustard seeds and cumin. When the mustard seeds begin to splutter add the curry leaves and sauté for 1 minute.
  • Take off the heat and add the asafoetida. Pour the tempered ingredients into the curry along with the chopped coriander and salt as required and mix well.  The curry is best served with rice.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #_pestleandspice.

If you love this vegetable curry recipe, then why don’t you check out our other vegetarian recipes? Like this tasty spinach and paneer pasty.

Recipe consulted during the making of this recipe: kerala sambar from, sambhar masala from tarladalal and sambar recipe by indianhealthyrecipes.


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