I-D Sambhar

restaurant style sambhar

I-D sambhar as I call it is sambhar served in restaurants to go ideally with idli, dosai, or vadai. It has a different taste, flavor and color (depending on the amount of chilli powder added to it) as compared with the tradional sambhar that  goes as gravy with rice. Often it is thinner, more vibrant and strong in flavors like cinnamon or fennel. It uses less tamarind and more tomatoes and thus taste also varies. Often we see people helping themselves to cups of sambhar and I guess justified in doing so.

My version of this sambhar is quite enjoyed by G and I guess that certifies this dish ūüôā

Preparation 10 minutes

Cooking  20 minutes

Ingredients  (To make 1 liter)

Tamarind     size of a gooseberry

Shallots        1 cup

Drum stick¬† 6 to 9 pieces (2″ long)

Toor dal ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†¬ľ cup (small handful)

Turmeric powder ¬Ĺ tsp

Salt  1 tsp (heapful)

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Asafotida ¬ľ tsp

Cinnamon ¬Ĺ”(optional)

Fennel seeds ¬Ĺ tsp (optional)

Red chilli powder 1 tsp

Cooking oil 1 tbsp

For paste

Roasted gram 1 tbsp

Coconut  grating 1 tbsp

Roasted coriander seeds 1 tbsp

shallots (sauteed) 5 or 6

Tomato  1 big

Curry leaves 3 sprigs


  • Wash the dal and add turmeric powder. Pressure cook the dal in 1/2 cup water
  • Heat oil in a wide pan and temper with mustard seeds. Add shallots and drumstick and saute until aroma starts wafting. Set aside a few shallots to add to masala paste.
  • Add the strained tamarind pulp to the pan and add salt. While the tamarind boils grind the masala ingredients to a fine paste.
  • When the raw smell of tamarind is gone add the mashed dal and masala paste and make up the volume to a liter with water. Switch off the flame as soon as it starts boiling.
  • Heat ¬Ĺ tsp oil in tadka pan and add the chill powder and asafotida and switch off the flame.¬† Add to sambhar and mix well
  • If you like cinnamon/fennel¬† flavor add the spice to the masala while grinding.

Chef’s note: You can add other vegetables of your choice like yellow pumpkin, beans or carrot if you like to add to taste and color.

Cinnamon/fennel flavor gives the sambhar the signature of Karnataka1


Methi-Onion Sambhar

Finely diced methi 1 cup (rinse well in running water before dicing)

Tomato 2 medium sized/ 1 big

Onion 1 big

Pulp from 1lemon-sized tamarind soaked in warm water

Sambhar powder 1 1/2 tsp

Salt 1 tsp (to your taste)

Arahar dal 1/2 cup

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Cooking oil 2 tsp

Mustard 1 tsp

Add the turmeric powder to soaked arahar dal and pressure cook till finely done.

Heat oil in a wok and temper the mustard seeds. When the seeds start spluttering add the finely diced onion and saute till translucent. Simmer the flame and add the finely diced methi leaves and saute for a couple of minutes before adding the tomatoes. Saute till the aroma starts coming out and add the tamarind pulp. Add the sambhar powder and salt and let the mix boil for 5 minutes till the sambhar powder loses the raw flavor.

Add the cooked and mashed dal and let the sambhar starts bubbling. Remove from fire and serve hot with rice.

Onion Sambhar (with ground masala) 4 Servings

Peeled Sambhar onions 200 gm

Lemon-sized tamarind soaked in hot water

Toor dal 1/2 cup

Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp

Salt 1 tbsp

Oil 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

For the masala:

Red chillis (long)  5

Coriander seeds  2 tbsp

Chana dal 2tbsp

Urd dal 1 tsp

Grated coconut 1/3 cup

Curry leaves  3 sprigs

Pressure cook the toor dal after adding sufficient water to it and also the turmeric powder. On cooling mash the dal to a fine blend.

While the dal is getting cooked, prepare the masals by roasting the ingredients over slow fire. Add a few drops of oil in the frying pan and as it gets heated add the chillis. Whe n the chillis strt changing color, add the coriander seeds and stir tilll it gives out a good aroma. Add the dal and roast tilll done.Add the coconut and curry leaves and switch off the flame.  Whenb cool enough, grind to a fine paste.

In a heavy-bottomed vessel add the oil for tempering. As the oil gets heated add the mustard seeds and as they start spluttering, add the onions and saute till they change color. Extract a thick pulp from the soaked tamarind and add to the sauteed onions. Add the salt also and let the onions get cooked. As soon as the onions are done add the masala paste ans as it starts boiling add the mashed dal and let it just boil. Remove from fire and serve hot.

Cooking Tip: In case you like  to add the sambhar powder for favor, reduce the chillis to 3 and add 1/2 tsp sambhar powder to the tmarind extract when it is boiling and wait for 5 min before adding tha masala.