sambar recipe kerala style, kerala sambar recipe
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4.25 from 4 votes

Kerala Sambar

this kerala style sambar is a delicious and tasty variation of sambar made with mix vegetables and roasted coconut & spice paste.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: main course
Cuisine: kerala, south indian
Servings: 8
Author: Dassana Amit


for the kerala sambar

  • 1 cup tuvar dal (arhar dal, pigeon pea lentils)
  • 1 small onion - sliced or chopped (optional)
  • 1 to 2 pinch asafoetida (hing)
  • 10 to 12 pearl onions or shallots
  • 8 to 10 okra (bhindi or lady finger)
  • 5 to 7 aubergines (brinjal or baingan)
  • 1 large tomato or 2 medium size tomatoes
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ½ cup tamarind pulp – made with ½ cup water and 1 lemon sized ball of tamarind
  • 2.5 to 3 cups water or add as required
  • salt as required

for tempering kerala sambar

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or any vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal (split and husked black gram)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • 2 to 3 dry red kashmiri chillies - you can also use small red bor chillies for the tadka

for the sambar masala

  • ½ coconut, grated – will yield about 1 to 1.5 cups of grated coconut
  • 3 to 4 pearl onions or shallots - chopped
  • 12 to 15 curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • ¼ teaspoon methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)
  • 3 to 4 dry red chilies - I used 4 kashmiri red chillies
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons coconut oil or any vegetable oil


to make sambar masala

  • on a skillet, tava or a shallow frying pan, heat up 2 or 3 tsp coconut oil. add all the shallots and fry till they become translucent. 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.
  • once, cooled, grind this roasted spice mixture in the grinder with some water. 

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.
  • cook the dal with the vegetables until they are half cooked. this takes about 11 to 12 minutes.
  • now add the chopped okra, tamarind pulp, and the ground masala. add some more water if the sambar has become thick.
  • 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.
  • 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. 

tempering for kerala 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.
  • once the tadka is ready, directly pour the hot tadka on the hot sambar.
  • immediately, cover the kerala sambar with a lid and let it stay closed for some 8 to 10 minutes. We do this at home, so that the flavors and aroma of the tadka gets very well infused with the sambar or dal.
  • later mix well.
  • 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.


Serving: 4g