Sambar is a spicy, sweet, succulent South Indian curry of lentil and mixed vegetables, served with either idli, dosa, vada or rice. Sambar is one of those Indian curries which are gluten-free, vegan and super easy to prepare in a pressure cooker or an instant pot.
A few years back Sambar used to be defined as South Indian delicacy, confined only to the Southern states of India. But now there is a major change in trend more and more households all across India are including sambar in their daily menu. The simplicity and wholesomeness of the curry have made a delicious reputation for itself among the food lovers.
While living in South India, I discovered one secret about sambar recipe, the ingredients of the curry changes even from one neighborhood to another. Every family has their own special sambar recipe passed on from one generation to another. It is best to use good quality sambar masala for the perfect taste and color of the curry. That is the reason I stick to homemade sambar masala powder.
It is 100% natural, free of any artificial colors, prepared with supreme quality ingredients and can be made in small quantities as per requirement. Usually, in supermarkets worldwide, sambar masala is readily available. Or you can try making this sambar spice mix (see recipe) at home from scratch.
Mix Veg Sambar…
Mix veg sambar is that fridge forage kind of casserole where you can put all kind of vegetables sitting in the fridge. From carrots, beans, eggplant to summer squashes, all taste good in the sambar. The best part about sambar is –
- protein packed
- rich in fiber
Instant Pot Sambar Recipe…
Step 1 – Switch on the saute mode of Instant Pot. To the inner pot of your Instant Pot add cooking oil, mustard seeds, dry red chilies, asafoetida powder, and curry leaves. Saute for 1 – 2 seconds.
Step 2 – Once the mustard seeds start spluttering, add chopped onion and saute till is light brown. Add chopped tomato, salt, turmeric powder, and red chili powder. Mix and saute for 5 minutes or till tomato release their juices.
Step 3 – Next, add the diced carrot, eggplant, drumstick, and the soaked split pigeon pea. Stir to combine. Pour 6 cup of room temperature water. Stir to mix.
Step 4 – Lock pressure cooker lid in place and set the steam vent to Sealing. Select pressure cook manual mode and cook on medium pressure for 10 minutes. Once the cooking time is over, let the steam release naturally from the pressure cooker. Open the lid of the pressure cooker, add sambar masala, sugar and tamarind paste. Stir to mix.
Step 5 – Serve Sambar with steamed basmati rice or idli.
What to serve with Sambar?
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Vegetable Sambar Recipe
- 1 Cup pigeon pea lentil (arhar dal)
- 1 medium size ridge gourd/bottle gourd/brinjal
- 2 large tomato, roughly chopped
- 1 drumstick, cleaned and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoon tamarind paste
- 1 tablespoon jaggery, roughly chopped
- Salt to taste
- 2 teaspoon Sambar Powder ( see recipe )
- 2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 3 – 4 Cups of water
Ingredients for tempering
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
- 6 – 8 sambar onions or 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 6 curry leaves
- 4 cloves of garlic, fine chopped
- 2 tablespoon ghee or coconut oil or cooking oil
- 2 – 3 dry red chilies
- A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- To prepare sambar, clean, wash and soak dal in water for 15 – 20 minutes.
- While dal is soaked clean and chop the vegetables for the sambar.
- Transfer dal to pressure cooker with chopped vegetable, tomato, turmeric powder, red chili powder, salt and 2 Cups of water.
- Cook dal in in the pressure cooker for 2 – 3 whistles on medium to high flame. The dal should become soft and mushy. Turn off the heat and release the steam from the pressure cooker.
- Open the lid of pressure cooker and add chopped drumstick. Stir well and once again pressure cook dal on medium to high flame till 1 whistle comes. Turn off the heat and let the steam release from the cooker on its own.
- Remove the lid of pressure cooker and add the sambar powder, tamarind paste, jaggery. Stir to combine well if the consistency of sambar is thick, then add more water.
- Transfer sambar to a saucepan and then simmer the sambar for 10-12 minutes on a low flame stirring regularly in between so that the dal does not stick to the bottom.
- Meanwhile prepare tempering, in a small pan, heat ghee over medium heat. Add mustard seeds once they crackle add onion, garlic, red chilies, asafoetida and curry leaves.
- Fry till the garlic turns a light brown and the onion turn translucent. Pour the whole tempering in the steaming hot sambar. Close with a lid so that the flavors infuse for about 5-6 minutes.
- Serve Sambar warm with idli, dosa or rice.
- There could be infinite combinations of vegetables in mixed vegetable Sambar along with Split Pigeon Pea/Toor/ Arhar Dal but always prefer using vegetables which are pulpy, soft, does not have an overpowering taste and takes almost equal time to cook as lentil-like ridge gourd, bottle gourd, brinjal and so on.
- Adjust the consistency of sambar by increasing or reducing the quantity of water.