Mullangi sambar is an easy and delicious South Indian variant of sambar with piquant favors of radish, healthy lentils, and fragrant spices. This sambar variety is made with white radish or daikon a.k.a mullangi in the Tamil language and mooli in the Hindi language. It is hearty, comforting, filling lentil and radish stew that pairs well with steamed rice, idli, dosa or vada.
Sambar is one dish that is always on the menu at home once a week. So sometimes I make Kerala Varutharacha Sambar and sometimes sambar with just one vegetable like spinach, red amaranth leaves, shallots, drumsticks, okra, tomatoes etc. This Mullangi sambar also falls in this category where the sambar is made mainly with just one vegetable.
Radish lends its unique aroma and taste to this sambar. So if you like radish, then do try adding radish in sambar and you will love it.
This recipe uses Sambar Powder. When making sambar either make your own sambar powder or buy a good quality one.
You can also quickly roast the spices for the sambar powder in a skillet and later grind them. Also note that, there is no coconut in this recipe. So less work and an easy delicious sambar to make.
The radish sambar goes very well with steamed rice and some papaddums by the side. Also pairs well with idli, dosa or uttapam.
How to make Mullangi Sambar
Cooking Lentils and More Prep
1. Pick and then rinse ½ cup of arhar dal (tuvar dal or pigeon pea lentils) 3 to 4 times in water.
2. Add the lentils to a pressure cooker and 1 to 2 pinch of turmeric powder. Also, add 2 or 2.5 cups of water. Pressure cook for 6 to 7 whistles or till the lentils are softened and mushy.
3. Meanwhile as the lentils are cooking, soak 1 tablespoon of tamarind in ¼ cup water for 30 minutes. You can also soak in hot water for about 20 minutes.
Later press the soaked tamarind and squeeze its extract in the water. Set aside.
4. Rinse and then peel the white radish. Slice the peeled radish into rounds. It should be around 2 cups of sliced radish.
5. Measure all the ingredients and keep ready. Chop all the veggies that are required like shallots, tomatoes etc.
6. Once the pressure of the cooker drops down on its own, then only open the lid. The lentils would be cooked. If the lentils are undercooked, then pressure cook again for some more time adding some water if required.
7. Lightly mash the cooked lentils with a spoon or a wired whisk and keep aside.
Making Mullangi Sambar
8. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in another pan. Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and let them splutter. Keep the heat to low to medium-low. You can use any neutral flavor oil.
You can use sesame oil made from raw sesame seeds (gingelly oil) or ghee or coconut oil if you prefer.
9. Now add ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi seeds) and ½ teaspoon of urad dal (husked and split black gram).
10. Fry stirring often till the urad dal turns golden.
11. Add 5 to 6 shallots or pearl onions (sliced). Saute stirring often till the shallots become translucent.
12. Add 1 to 2 dry red chilies. Remove the seeds before adding the chilies.
13. Then add ¼ teaspoon of asafoetida (hing). Stir and saute for some seconds on a low heat.
14. Add 1 medium-sized chopped tomato and 1 sprig of curry leaves (about 10 to 12 curry leaves).
15. Saute till the tomatoes soften.
16. Then add the sliced radish and also sprinkle ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder. Stir and mix well.
17. Saute for a minute.
18. Then add 1 to 1.5 cups of water or as required.
19. Sprinkle salt as required. Mix again.
20. Cover the pan with a lid and cook over medium heat till the radish slices are fork tender.
21. Remove the lid and check a few times when the radish is cooking.
22. Once has the radish has cooked well then add the mashed lentils.
23. Add tamarind pulp that we had made earlier and 2 to 3 teaspoons of sambar powder.
24. Add ½ teaspoon sugar or jaggery if you prefer. Adding sugar or jaggery is optional.
25. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes on a medium-low heat till the raw aroma of the tamarind goes away and all the flavors come together.
If the sambar appears thick, then add some hot water and simmer for a few minutes. You can always alter the consistency and make it thick or thin by less or more water.
26. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve the Radish sambar hot with steamed rice or with South Indian snacks like idli or dosa or medu vada or uttapam.
It makes for a hearty, healthy lunch option. You can also serve this sambar with any South Indian meal. For best taste and flavor finish eating the sambar on the same day. So scale the recipe and make as much as you need.
I would not recommend refrigerating as the flavor and taste of this sambar changes completely. It is best served hot as soon as it is made.
Few more sambar varieties
- Sambar – mix vegetable sambar.
- Idli sambar
- Drumstick sambar
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Mullangi Sambar | Radish Sambar
For cooking lentils
- ½ cup tur dal (tuvar dal, arhar or pigeon pea lentils)
- 2 to 2.5 cups water – for pressure cooking dal
- 1 to 2 pinch turmeric powder
- 2 cups peeled and sliced white radish (mullangi or daikon or mooli)
- ¼ cup tamarind pulp – ¾ or 1 tablespoon tamarind soaked in ¼ cup water for 20 to 30 minutes and then squeezed with the juice extracted and strained.
- 2 to 3 teaspoons Sambar Powder
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi dana)
- 5 to 6 shallots or pearl onions (sliced or chopped)
- 1 to 2 dry red chilies – halved and seeds removed
- ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
- ½ teaspoon urad dal (husked and split black gram) – optional
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 medium size tomatoes – chopped
- 2 tablespoons oil – any neutral flavored oil or gingelly oil (oil made from raw sesame seeds) or coconut oil
- salt as required
- ½ teaspoon sugar or jaggery (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric – for adding in sambar
- 1 to 1.5 cups water for sambar
- Pick and rinse the lentils well. Pressure cook the lentils with a pinch of turmeric in 2 or 2.5 cups water for 6 to 7 whistles on medium flame.
- Meanwhile as the lentils are cooking, soak the tamarind in ¼ cup water.
- Rinse and later chop all the veggies that are required like radish, shallots, tomatoes etc
- Once the pressure of the cooker drops down on its own, then only open the lid.
- The lentils would be softened and mushy. If the lentils are undercooked, then pressure cook again adding some water if required.
- Lightly mash the cooked lentils with a spoon or wired whisk and set aside.
Making mullangi sambar
- Heat oil in another pan. Lower the heat and add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.
- Now add fenugreek seeds and urad dal. Fry till the urad dal turns golden stirring often on a low heat.
- Add the shallots or pearl onions. Sauté stirring often till the shallots become translucent.
- Then add dry red chilies and asafoetida (hing). Stir and saute for some seconds.
- Add the tomatoes and curry leaves. Saute till the tomatoes soften.
- Then add the radish and turmeric powder. Stir and saute for a minute.
- Add water and salt as required. Cover the pan with lid and cook over medium heat till the radish slices are fork tender.
- Remove the lid. Then add the mashed lentils.
- Add the tamarind pulp and sambar powder.
- Add sugar or jaggery if you like. Simmer for 5 to 7 minutes or until all the flavors come together and the raw aroma of the tamarind goes away.
- If the sambar appears thick, then add some hot water and simmer for a few minutes. Garnish with coriander leaves.
- Serve the mullangi sambar hot or warm with steamed rice or idli or dosa or uttapam.
- Best to enjoy this radish sambar on same day. I would not suggest refrigerating as the taste and flavor changes completely next day.
- Use good quality or a good brand of sambar powder. I always use homemade sambar powder.
- Instead of tuvar dal you can also use yellow moong dal.
- For a gluten-free version skip adding asafoetida or use gluten-free asafoetida.
- Swap shallots or pearl onions with regular onions.
- You can alter the consistency by adding less or more of the water.
- Feel free to omit adding sugar or jaggery if you don’t prefer it.
- You can scale the recipe to make a small batch or a big batch.
Nutrition Info (Approximate Values)
This Radish Sambar recipe post from the blog archives (first published in March 2013) has been updated and republished on 28 June 2021.
I had tasted Mooli sambar from Bangalore multiple times, but never knew how to make it. At my place (Cochin) not many people consume radish.
I had heard of the medicinal values of radish and tried your recipe last month. More than me, my five year old daughter became a fan of this recipe.
I made the sambar for second time today. As I am writing this, my daughter is asking for more and more radish 🙂 Thank you, Dassana!
Happy to hear! Thank you James for taking the time to comment and sharing this lovely feedback. Most welcome.
Can i replace the radish with a cup of capsicum and okra each ? for the same amount of tamarind and sambar powder. I am making for 4 people.
Yes, you can do that.
Tried it tonight and OMG it’s fantastic. Reminded me of my grandmother’s cooking. I have learnt a lot from your site and continue to do so!
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