Restaurant Style Sambar
South Indian

Restaurant Style Sambar

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Sambar with rice is one of the main courses in everyday South Indian meals. I am sharing with you an easy and unique way to prepare the restaurant-style sambar at home. It is prepared using yellow lentils (Toor dal) cooked in a broth of fresh veggies, tamarind, and masala. Sambar can be made with a wide variety of vegetables. You can add any firm vegetables like eggplants, beans, gourds, carrots, onion, drumsticks, tomato are typical.

This post also contains the recipe for sambar powder or sambar masala, which provides the texture, taste, and consistency of the hotel or restaurant-style sambar. This spice blend is found in every south Indian home. Ready-made sambar powder is also available in the market but you can make your own quite easily with the ingredients available in your kitchen.

Even though I am not south Indian, But my love for south Indian cuisine can not be expressed in words. Try this recipe for an absolutely delicious Restaurant Style Sambar and let me know how it turned out. It can be served with steamed rice or even as a side dish for idli, dosa or medu vada.

Do try other recipes :

Preparation Time: 15mins  ∏  Cooking Time: 35mins  ∏  Servings: 3-4 person

Level: Intermediate(Medium)  ∏  Measurement: 1 Cup ≡ 250 ml ≡ 250gm

Ingredients Checklist:

For Sambar Masala

For Sambar

For Tempering

How to make Restaurant Style Sambar:

Make the Sambar Masala

Step1: Heat 1.5 tablespoon oil in a skillet or pan on low-medium heat, add 2 tablespoon coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon urad dal, 1 tablespoon chana dal, 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds and toast until fragrant. It will take around 2-3 minutes. (Do not brown it).

Step2: Then add pinch of asafoetida, 4-5 black pepper corns, 5-6 curry leaves, 4-5 dry red chili and 1-inch roughly chopped ginger and saute for a minute then add 2 tablespoons grated coconut (fresh or frozen). Saute it.

Step3: Finally add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and 1/2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder. Turn off the flame and mix everything well. Transfer it to a plate and let it cool down.
Step4: Once it is cooled down grind to a fine powder using a grinder, spice mill. Sambar Masala is ready, keep it aside for future use.

Make the Sambar

Step5: Soak seedless tamarind in the warm water and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. Wash Toor dal and add it in a pressure cooker with 2 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, and salt as per taste. Pressure cook it for 3-4 whistle on medium flame. Dal should be soft, mushy, and cooked well.
Step6: In the meanwhile when dal is cooking we can chop all the vegetables. You can add any vegetables of your choice like brinjal, beans, drumstick, gourd, tomato, bhindi, carrot, cauliflower etc. But do not add too many vegetables, then you will end up having more vegetables and very less sambar. So use just 1-1/2 cup of mixed vegetables.
Step7: Turn on the flame and heat a large pan. Pour 1/2 tablespoon oil and let it heat. Add sliced onion along with sliced green chili and curry leaves. Saute everything for 2-3 minutes.

Step8: Add all the chopped veggies brinjal, beans, carrot, gourd, tomato. Saute it for 2 minutes on medium flame.

Step9: Pour 1/4 cup of tamarind extract along with 1 teaspoon jaggery and 1 cup of water. Then add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and salt as per your taste (Note: we have also added salt while cooking dal). Cover and let it cook for about 10 minutes on medium flame till all the veggies are soft and cooked well.

Step10: In the meanwhile when veggies are getting cooked we will check the cooked dal. Once the pressure from the cooker is naturally released open the lid and mash the dal with the masher or ladle so that there are no big pieces of dal. The dal should be smooth and very well blend with the water.

Step11: When veggies are soft and cooked, add cooked dal. Mix it well with the veggies and let it boil for 4-5 minutes.
Step12: Once sambar starts boiling add 3-4 teaspoon sambar powder. And let it boil for 2 minutes or till flavors of sambar powder is absorbed completely.

Step13: Check the salt and masala, add more if required. Turn off the flame.

Make the Tadka

Step14: Heat a tadka pan on medium flame. Pour 1 tablespoon oil, once it is hot add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek (or methi) seeds, and a pinch of asafoetida (or heeng). Let the seeds crackle for 20-30 secs.

Step15: Add red chilly along with curry leaves, let them splutter. Turn off the flame.

Step16: Pour this tempering immediately over the prepared sambar and mix well. Garnish with some fresh coriander leaves. Cover the lid so that flavors of tempering get infused in the sambar.

Step17: Restaurant Style Sambar is ready to serve along with hot steamed rice. You can also serve it with Idli, Dosa or Medu vada.

Restaurant Style Sambar

Watch this video for making Restaurant Style Sambar


  • To save some time you may soak the tour dal for 20minutes for fast cooking.
  • Sambar powder is the key ingredient, use fresh homemade sambar masala for authentic taste or a good brand store bought sambar powder.
  • You can use any veggies of your choice just don’t add too much of it. There should be some ratio of veggies and dal.
  • I like my sambar to be on the thicker side, however, you may add water as desired to bring it to a consistency you like.
  • If possible use fresh curry leaves which gives this sambar a unique aroma.

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