There are people in the world who plan things perfectly before doing anything. Then there is me. I don’t plan … I probably can’t plan. Add to the fact that I have an extremely lousy memory. You can imagine how smoothly my life runs…or not.

Usually when I cook I generally have an idea of what is in my pantry. So after a long break I decided to make a sambar. I bought drumsticks and shallots and decided sambar it will be.

I soaked the dal, washed it and along with the shallots pressure cooked it.

I cut the onions, tomatoes, and drumsticks.

I set my kadai on the stove added oil and sautéed the onions and tomatoes. I add the salt, chiily powder and turmeric powder.

I reach out to the sambar powder … OMG it’s not there. I search high and low it’s just not there. ** **** I abuse myself. I add coriander powder and continue cooking the vegetables. The dal is done, vegetables cooked, the mixing happens.

Just as I take the salt to add a final bit of salt, I see the amchoor bottle. I take the salt and wonder to myself should I add a little amchoor to augment the sourness I have a flash back.

The last time I bought sambar powder (long long ago), I had some leftover powder which I put in an amchoor bottle. My efforts were redoubled and lo behole and presto in my tiny amchoor bottle I have half a bottle of sambar powder.

Without wasting a moment I dry fry the powder and add it to the sambar.

I do the tadka.

It is done.

I take the sambar off the heat and go to the fridge to take coriander leaves to sprinkle it on top. What do I see … there is no coriander leaves … and no miracles to save me L.

Tell me people do you plan ahead and make sure you have everything before cooking or are you in a mad dash to search for ingredients while cooking.

Oh and BTW the sambar was delicious.

This is the first in my back to basic series for my friend Diya.


Toor Dal – ½ cup
Shallots – 7 -8
Drumstick – 2 nos (cut into the size of your index finger)
Onions – 1 (sliced)
Tomatoes – 2 (sliced)
Chilly powder – 1 tsp
Sambhar powder – 1 tsp ( optional)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Tamarind – 1 gooseberry sized in ¼ cup water                                                                            Salt – as reqd

For Tadka
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Red chillies – 5 -6
Curry leaves – As reqd
Ghee – 1 tsp

Hing – 1 pinch
Coriander leaves – A bunch


Soak and cook the Toor dal in a pressure cooker with shallots and enough water to cover the dal.

Heat a kadai, add onions and sauté for a while until they become translucent. Add tomatoes and cook till lightly mushy.  Add the powders and sauté` till the raw smell goes. Add the drumsticks along with some water. Stir well and cook till it is almost done.

Add the tamarind water and cover the kadai and cook the drumsticks. Add enough salt. It is best to add the salt and tamarind after the vegetables are almost cooked as both salt and tamarind supposedly slows the cooking process.
After the vegetables are cooked, add the toor dal and mix well. Add little water and bring to a boil or until the required consistency is reached.

Meanwhile heat a small kadai and pour a little oil/ ghee. Add mustard seeds, red chillies and curry leaves. When done pour this over the sambar add a dash of hing. Take it off the heat.

Garnish with coriander leaves.

Yummy flavourful sambar ready.


3 thoughts on “Sambar

  1. Pingback: Recipe Index « anishathefoodie

  2. Pingback: Drumstick Sambar | anishathefoodie

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