Sambar (Lentil and Vegetable Stew)

My garden is still going strong even in October. I have been harvesting vegetables like beans, eggplant, okra, and tomatoes. I eat more veggies than anyone else in my family as others are a bit picky. I am always trying new ways to cook veggies for my family. One dish I thought they would like is called Sambar. It has no meat and tastes great with just about any vegetable that you add.

Sambar is a type of lentil-based vegetable stew from southern India. Sambar often contains sambar powder, a ready-made spice that has roasted lentils, roasted whole red chilies, seeds, curry leaves, and other spices. I have had this a few times before at a restaurant and the homes of Indian friends. It tasted different depending on who made it.

To make this wonderful vegetable-lentil stew you can use Sambar powder from the store or make your own version, such as what I show you how to do below. I love the chunky veggies of this dish. It has a slight tang from the tamarind and richness from the coconut milk. Some of you might like that it is vegan friendly! Don’t let the long list of ingredients intimidate you, it actually comes together pretty easily!

Sambar is usually served with steamed rice when served in India. You can make this your own with your favorite vegetables. This was a hit in my home — even with those who don’t like always like these vegetables. I hope you will make it for your family and let me know your experience.



  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils (masoor dal)
  • 1 tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
  • 2 green chili whole
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 6 cups water


  • 2 small Japanese eggplant, quartered
  • 8 green beans, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 8 fresh okra, stem removed
  • 2 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 medium sized roma tomatoes, cut into wedges

Tadka (temparing the oil)

  • 2 tbsp. tamarind, puree
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp. brown mustard seeds
  • 4 dried red chili peppers
  • 10 curry leaves
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk


Soak lentils for 20 minutes, then rinse and drain well. Place lentils into a large saucepan, along with ginger, garlic, turmeric, green chili, salt, and water. Mix well.

Bring the lentils to a boil. Cover and simmer on a low heat for 10 minutes. Stir and add vegetables and cook for another 12-15 minutes until vegetables are cooked, but not too mushy. Add a bit more water if needed, then add tamarind puree and stir.


Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, chili, and curry leaves. Cook for 30-40 seconds. Add onion to the pan. Cook until the onions are lightly brown and soft. Add this to lentils and vegetables. Stir in the coconut milk and tamarind puree, then turn off the heat. Taste for seasoning.


Serve with rice, grilled naan, or roti and enjoy!


Serves 8-10

Did you make this dish? I’d love to know how it turns out! Feel free to like this post and comment or use the hashtag #globaldinein on Instagram. If you would like to be notified of upcoming posts, please consider subscribing to my blog!

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