Kerala Sambar Recipe, How to make Kerala Sambar | Sambar Recipes

kerala-sambar

Kerala Sambar Recipe – I have had sambar in many places, but I like this Kerala Sambar which my mom makes. She also makes the other varieties of sambar, but this one and the Malvani Kala Vatana Sambar tops my list.

I love the food from Kerala from the appams to the avial, from the puttus to the kadala. I have been lucky enough to have a feast of the kerala cuisine many times in my life, especially on Onam and Vishu. Thanks to my mother who is a great cook, my father who is born and brought up in Kerala and a Keralite neighbour.

I remember my office days…. when I would come from work and ask mom about the dinner. When she would mention that she had made sambar, I would feel so good. Those days, I would take more amount of rice than I usually took. I only need to have sambar with rice and kerala pappadums. Its one comfort food for me that I have always relished and cherished.

In fact, I would be the only one who would eat the left over sambar the next day. I would not have the other freshly made dishes but only sambar and rice.

It would be very selfish of me if I did not share this kerala sambar recipe with the readers of my blog. I hope you enjoy making this sambar and having it too.

This kerala sambar recipe, makes use of mixed vegetables. You could use any vegetables you have or you like. I have used shallots, aubergines and okra. Since, I was also making beans upkari with potatoes, I did not add beans nor potatoes to the sambar. If you are interested to know more about the vegetables and ingredients used for making sambar, then this post is very helpful.

This kerala sambar recipe also calls for roasting the sambar masala and then grinding it. Trust me…. just making the fresh sambar masala is better than using readymade sambar powder. I also use readymade sambar powder, when I have to make a quick sambar dish. But in my experience, the sambar made with fresh, roasted ground spices taste very different than the one made with readymade sambar powder. If you have to use readymade sambar powder, than make your own sambar powder. It is much better than using the store bought ones.

kerala sambar recipe

The photographs for this kerala sambar recipe have come out very well. The same thing is applicable for the aloo gobi recipe. That because there was a great amount of sunlight in my kitchen on these days. It was not dark and dull as it always is in this season. I was surprised by these photographs.

Method to make Sambar Masala:

  • On a skillet, tava or a shallow frying pan, heat up 2 or 3 tsp oil. Add all the shallots and fry till they become translucent. Now add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute. Add the rest of the spice and fry till they are light brown. Now add the grated coconut and roast it with the rest of the spices till everything is browned and you get a fragrant aroma in your kitchen. Let this mixture cool.

roasting the sambar masala

  • Once, cooled, grind this roasted spice mixture in the grinder with some water. This is how the sambar masala paste will look like.

ground sambar masala

To make the Kerala Sambar:

  • First, boil the tuvar dal till in a pressure cooker with the sliced or chopped onion and hing, till the dal is soft and well cooked. Mash the cooked dal slightly with a spoon when done.

mashed cooked dal for kerala sambar

  • Chop all your vegetables. Add all the vegetables except for the okras (bhindi) to the cooked tuvar dal along with turmeric powder and some water. Give a nice stir to the entire mixture.

adding vegetables to the cooked dal - kerala sambar

  • Cook the dal with the vegetables until they are half cooked. This takes about 11-12 minutes.

cooking the veggies in the sambar

  • Now add the chopped okra, tamarind pulp, and the ground masala. Add some more water if the sambar has become thick.

adding chopped okra to the sambar

  • Add salt and give the sambar a rolling boil once and then simmer till the veggies are cooked. This will approximately take about 15-16 minutes.

simmering the sambar

  • Close the flame when all the ingredients in the sambar have nicely infused with one another and you have a lovely sambar aroma pervading all around in your kitchen. Keep the sambar closed with a lid and move on to the next step of tempering the sambar. Ignore the frothy layer on top of the sambar. When you add the tempering all that disappears.

ready kerala sambar

To prepare the tadka/tempering for sambar:

  • In a pan or the tadka utensil, heat oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Then add all the other ingredients and fry them till they become fragrant. Take care they do not get burnt. Please also ignore the black spots on the tempering utensil. How much I try, I simply cannot get rid of them.

tempering for the sambar

Adding the tadka to the sambar:

  • Once the tadka is ready, directly pour the hot tadka on the hot sambar.

chaunk vaghar tempering added to sambar

  • Immediately, cover the kerala sambar with a lid and let it stay closed for some 5 minutes. We do this at home, so that the flavors and aroma of the tadka gets very well infused with the sambar or dal.

Serving the Kerala Sambar:

  • Give the kerala sambar a standing time of 2-3 hrs. The sambar tastes good when kept for some hours after making it. The taste of a freshly prepared sambar is different than the taste of a sambar which has been made a few hours ago.
  • Serve the kerala sambar with boiled rice and pappadums, accompanied by a side vegetable dish and a bowl of yogurt or raita. Enjoy :-)
  • If there is any leftover sambar, you could have it the next day with dosa, idli, medu vada or dal vada. But keep the leftover sambar in the fridge.

Few Tips for making Kerala Sambar Recipe:

  • Do not directly add the aubergines in sambar. Chop them and keep them in salted water for 10-15 mins so that the bitter juices are extracted from them in the salted water.
  • The souring agent we use in sambar is generally tamarind. If your tamarind is too sour, than you will have to increase the chillies and salt with it and vice versa. The tamarind, chillies and salt have to balance each other. I came across this tip in Chandra Padmanabhan’s book – Southern Spice: Delicious Vegetarian Recipes from South India. Its a nice book if you are looking for a variety of vegetarian recipes amongst the South Indian Cuisine. Fortunately, whenever I have made sambar, the tamarind has never been too tart and the sambar has never become too sour.
  • If you do not have fresh coconut, you could substitute it for dessicated coconut.
  • If you are using a lot of mixed vegetables, alter their amount ( that is do not use the quantity of vegetables mentioned in this post) so that there is a balance of the vegetables and dal in the sambar.

if you are looking for more sambar recipes then do check hotel style tiffin sambarudipi sambar, red amaranth sambar, kala vatana sambar, brinjal sambar and radish sambar.

kerala sambar recipe below: 

Kerala Sambar Recipe
 
PREP TIME
COOK TIME
TOTAL TIME
 
Kerala Sambar made with mix vegetables and roasted coconut spiced paste.
AUTHOR:
RECIPE TYPE: Main
CUISINE: Kerala
SERVES: 4
INGREDIENTS (measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml)
For the Sambar:
  • 1½ or 1¾ cups of tuvar dal (arhar dal)
  • 1 small onion, sliced or chopped (optional)
  • a pinch or two of asafoetida (hing)
  • 10-12 shallots or sambar onions
  • 8-10 okra
  • 5-7 aubergines (brinjal)
  • 1 large tomato or 2 medium size tomatoes
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¾ cup tamarind pulp – made with ¾ cup water and 1 lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • salt
  • water
For the tempering/tadka/chaunk/vaghar/phodni:
  • 1 to 2 tbsp coconut oil or any vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2-3 dry red chillies ( I used small red bor chillies for the tadka)
For the Sambar Masala:
  • ½ coconut, grated – will yield about 1 to 1½ cups of coconut
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped (optional)
  • 5-7 garlic flakes, chopped (optional)
  • 2-3 shallots or sambar onions, chopped
  • 12-15 curry leaves
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • ¼ tsp black peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp hing
  • ¼ tsp methi seeds
  • 3-4 dry red chilies ( I used 2 kashmiri and 2 guntur red chillies)
  • 2 to 3 tsp coconut oil or any vegetable oil
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. To make the sambar masala:
  2. On a skillet, tava or a shallow frying pan, heat up 2 or 3 tsp oil. Add all the shallots and fry till they become translucent. Now add the ginger and garlic and fry for a minute. Add the rest of the spice and fry till they are light brown. Now add the grated coconut and roast it with the rest of the spices till everything is browned and you get a fragrant aroma in your kitchen. Let this mixture cool.
  3. Once, cooled, grind this roasted spice mixture in the grinder with some water. This is how the sambar masala paste will look like.
  4. To make the sambar:
  5. First, boil the tuvar dal till in a pressure cooker with the sliced or chopped onion and hing, till the dal is soft and well cooked. Mash the cooked dal slightly with a spoon when done.
  6. Chop all your vegetables. Add all the vegetables except for the okras (bhindi) to the cooked tuvar dal along with turmeric powder and some water. Give a nice stir to the entire mixture.
  7. Cook the dal with the vegetables until they are half cooked. This takes about 11-12 minutes.
  8. Now add the chopped okra, tamarind pulp, and the ground masala. Add some more water if the sambar has become thick.
  9. Add salt and give the sambar a rolling boil once and then simmer till the veggies are cooked. This will approximately take about 15-16 minutes.
  10. Close the flame when all the ingredients in the sambar have nicely infused with one another and you have a lovely sambar aroma pervading all around in your kitchen. Keep the sambar closed with a lid and move on to the next step of tempering the sambar. Ignore the frothy layer on top of the sambar. When you add the tempering all that disappears.
  11. In a pan or the tadka utensil, heat oil. Add the mustard seeds and let them pop. Then add all the other ingredients and fry them till they become fragrant. Take care they do not get burnt.
  12. Once the tadka is ready, directly pour the hot tadka on the hot sambar.
  13. Immediately, cover the sambar with a lid and let it stay closed for some 5 minutes. We do this at home, so that the flavors and aroma of the tadka gets very well infused with the sambar or dal.
  14. Serving the Sambar:
  15. Give the kerala sambar a standing time of 2-3 hrs. The sambar tastes good when kept for some hours after making it. The taste of a freshly prepared sambar is different than the taste of a sambar which has been made a few hours ago.
  16. Serve the kerala sambar with boiled rice and pappadums, accompanied by a side vegetable dish and a bowl of yogurt or raita. Enjoy
  17. If there is any leftover kerala sambar, you could have it the next day with dosa, idli, medu vada or dal vada. But keep the leftover kerala sambar in the fridge.
NOTES
traditionally ginger and garlic is not added. you can skip them if you don't want to add.
NUTRITION INFORMATION
SERVING SIZE: 4




{ 25 Responses }

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  1. says

    Hi Dassana,
    thank u for the wonderful Sambhar recipe .Photos look mouthwatering .I am following your blog since last few months .I have tried many of your recipes also.Having inspired from you I have started my blog also recently .Please have a look at my indian food recipe blog at http://savorindian.blogspot.com/ and let me know your suggestions.

    Regards,
    Prerana

  2. suhani says

    hi Dassana..Happy Onam to and ur family..today on this occassion i made ur kerela sambar, medhu wadas (i still couldnt get the hole in them) and sesame coconut chutney..we enjoyed the meal to the fullest..i hv taken a trip to kerela thru this meal..

    • says

      thanks suhani. that great to know you took a trip to kerala through the sambar, vada and sesame coconut chutney. i need to make kerala food at home and add some more recipes.

  3. Sudha says

    The recipe surely is nice and the pictures are too perfect. But, i believe this is not kerala sambhar. I am keralite born and brought up in kerala, been with family and friends and have had a variety of sambhar versions. We never add onion, garlic or ginger to the sambhar masala . This recipe might surely taste excellent but with some other name!!!! I’m sorry… no offenses. Your pics and recipe is surely very tempting & mouth watering.

    • dassana says

      dear sudha, i trust what you are saying. but i got this recipe from my mother and my father is from kerala :-)

      nowadays in a cosmopolitan world, the recipes have become more personalised. like in punjabi kadhi we don’t add mustard seeds in the tempering. but i have seen on some south indian food blogs, mustard seeds being added to the kadhi. nothing wrong with that. its just the personalization of the recipe.

      if you want you can share your recipe with the readers here.

  4. Bhavna says

    Dasana,
    I must say your very perfect in the recipes you post.Confident and authentic.The pics are so well taken.Many girls who live out of India may benefit and bles you Im sure.
    Loves n prayers dear.
    Bhavna.