Quick Sambar


Updated 3/30/14: I’ve updated this recipe a few times, adding more sambar powder, cumin seeds and coconut. Also canned crushed tomatoes are especially good in this! The only thing is that this recipe is not quite so quick as it once was. But it is so good it doesn’t matter!

I love this sambar recipe that I have made a few times, but have been meaning to find a new, more simple sambar recipe. Since it was already pretty late, I wanted to make it really quick. I found a couple of great quick recipes that use a pressure cooker to do the bulk of the work (Spicy Tangy and South Indian Recipes) and adapted my recipe below from both. I had this with Mysore dosa.

1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
1 small onion or 1/2 large onion chopped
1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes (much richer than fresh!)
1/4 cup toor dal
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
3 cups water
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sambar powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon ginger paste
1 cube Trader Joe’s frozen garlic (you could also use garlic paste)
1 teaspoon natural tamarind paste
2-3 teaspoons sugar
2 cups water
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
7-8 curry leaves
Pinch hing
Cilantro chopped

  1. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker. Add onions and cook until they start to brown. Add tomatoes, dal, turmeric and 3 cups of water. Close cooker and heat on high until the first whistle, then turn down to medium and cook for another 10 minutes or so. Open carefully after all steam has come out (you can speed this up by putting the cooker under cold running water). Blend with an immersion blender.
  2. Grind the coconut, sambar powder, chili powder, and coriander powder, in a coffee grinder (this step isn’t totally necessary, but I did it last time because the desiccated coconut I had was shredded and for some reason this time it was the best sambar yet!). Add to dal along with ginger, garlic, tamarind, sugar, salt and the 2 cups of water.
  3. Heat the rest of the oil in a tadka or other small pan. Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and cook until the mustard seeds start to pop. Add curry leaves and hing, cook for a few seconds, and then throw into the pressure cooker.
  4. Top with cilantro and serve with dosa or idli and chutneys.

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