Mixed Vegetable sambar in Instant Pot and Pressure cooker. Sambar is a South Indian lentil and mixed vegetable stew. It is spicy, tangy, hearty, loaded with veggies and so delicious!!
I’m sharing how to make an easy sambar recipe in a traditional pressure cooker and in the Instant Pot, with pot in pot rice for that one pot, comforting, healthy, protein-packed weeknight meal.
Mixed Vegetable Sambar in Instant Pot with pot in pot rice is one-pot comfort food that I make almost on a bi-weekly basis. It's very nutritious and a complete meal that my family loves.
Traditionally Sambar is popular with Idli, dosa, vada, and similar varieties but today I'm sharing a slightly different version of the sambar (Mix veg lentils curry) which we prefer eating with rice.
This is my MIL recipe and she makes it slightly different than the traditional South Indian Sambar recipe.
Check this authentic, hotel-style Idli sambar recipe if you want to serve with Idli Dosa.
What is Sambar?
Sambar is a South Indian stew or curry made with lentils, vegetables, spices, and herbs. It is flavored with a special spice mix called sambar powder that lends a unique flavor and aroma to the sambar.
Many prefer making this sambar powder from scratch but nowadays sambar powder is easily available in most Indian grocery stores. So it's totally up to one's preference.
Traditionally Sambar is popular with Idli, dosa, vada, and similar varieties but today I'm sharing a slightly different version of the sambar which we prefer eating with rice.
For making sambar, lentils and veggies of choice are cooked and then spiced and flavored with Indian spices and sambar powder.
Tamarind extract or pulp is added for a tangy flavor giving sambar the perfect balance of spicy, slightly sweet (from veggies), and tangy.
Last but not least sambar is tempered with spices and fresh herbs for that final aromatic touch.
There are many varieties of sambar. Every home has its own way of making it. I make it a couple of ways too. Like this mix veg sambar I am sharing today and the Tiffin sambar that we love eating with idli dosa.
Either way both are delicious in their own way. But for this post, let's see how to make Mix Vegetable Sambar using a pressure cooker and Instant Pot
Dal or lentils - I make my sambar using Toor dal which is also known as tuvar dal or arhar dal in Hindi and yellow split pigeon peas in English. Along with toor dal, you can also make sambar with yellow moong dal, masoor dal (red split lentils), or a combination of these.
Ghee/Oil - I highly recommend making this sambar in ghee as it elevates the flavor and gives an amazing taste. Use oil if you want to keep it vegan.
Veggies - I have used onion, tomato, small eggplant (optional), carrot, zucchini, green bell pepper, and bottle guard (lauki/ghiya). You can use veggies of your choice. At times I just add the frozen veg mix and make this sambar.
Some other veggies that can be added are - pumpkin, okra (bhindi), potato, french beans, corn, and drumsticks.
For tempering (tadka) - you will need the basics like mustard seeds (rai), cumin seeds (zeera), asafoetida (hing), fresh curry leaves (don't skip these), dried red chili.
Spice powders - turmeric powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, sambar masala, and salt is all you need. You can use your favorite store-bought sambar powder or a homemade one.
Tamarind - I use the wet seedless tamarind that comes in slab form and soak it in hot water to make pulp. You can also use store-bought tamarind paste or tamarind extract but I find it changes the sambar color so I prefer the tamarind.
In addition, we will need some cilantro (coriander leaves) to finish the recipe.
Please refer to the recipe card for exact measurements of ingredients.
How to make Sambar (Stepwise)
Sambar in Pressure Cooker
1 - Wash the toor dal 3-4 times until the water runs clear. Let it soak for 10-30 mins.
2 - Drain the soaked dal and transfer it to a pressure cooker, along with 3 cups water, ginger, garlic, asafoetida, turmeric powder, and salt, mix well.
3 - Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles on medium heat. You can also cook the dal in an Instant pot for 10 mins at high pressure.
4 - Turn off the heat and let the steam release naturally. Open the lid and mash the dal using a whisk to make it smooth. Keep aside.
5 - While the dal cooks, cut your veggies.
6 and 7 - Once dal is cooked, add the veggies and sambar powder, mix, and pressure cook for 1 more whistle. This way the veggies are completely mushed.
8 - Let the steam release naturally again.
9 - In the meanwhile make the tadka (tempering). Gather the ingredients.
10 - In a separate pan heat oil, and once hot add the mustard seeds.
11 - Once they splutter add the cumin seeds.
12 - Turn off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients like curry leaves, red chilies, and red chili powder. Mix well. Be careful not to burn the spices.
13 - Soak the tamarind in hot water for about 10 mins and squeeze and strain to get the pulp.
14 -16 - Add the Tadka to the veggies and dal along with tamarind pulp, cilantro, and simmer for 10-15 mins.
Healthy and nutritious Mix Vegetable Sambar is ready to serve.
Instant Pot Sambar
Here is how I make one-pot Sambar Chawal (rice) in the Instant Pot. This is my go-to method for making weeknight meals. It is healthy, nourishing, and soul-satisfying!
17 - Start the instant pot in saute mode and make the tadka (tempering) steps 9-12 in the pressure cooker method. Add onions ginger, garlic, and saute for a minute.
Add in all the spices - turmeric, red chili, sambar powder, and salt. Mix well. Stir in the veggies (cut bigger chunks), soaked lentils, and water. Cancel saute mode.
18 - For PIP rice, to your rice pot add water, ghee, cumin seeds, and salt. Mix well. place a trivet inside the instant pot and place this rice vessel on top of it.
19 - Close the instant pot lid with vent to sealing position and cook on manual (pressure cook) at high pressure for 10 mins. Once done, do a quick release after 10 mins.
20 - Remove the rice PIP, cover, and keep aside. Switch on saute mode. Stir in the tamarind pulp some cilantro and simmer for 5-10 mins and Sambar is ready!
Cooking veggies pot in pot
Cooking veggies with lentils makes them soft and easily mix with dal. But if you prefer the veggies to be cooked but not completely mushy, cook them using pot in pot.
Instead of adding them to the Instant pot insert along with other ingredients simply place them in a steamer basket and then close the lid. Once the cooking is done, mash the dal and then add the veggies. The rest of the process remains the same.
You can also serve this sambar with idli dosa but we prefer it more with rice. Try the tiffin sambar for idli dosa.
For Instant Pot Sambar - if you prefer that veggies don't get overcooked or dissolve/mix in the sambar, cut bigger chunks of the veggies than usual or cook them pot in pot with sambar using a steamer basket. Personally, I prefer cooking veggies with the lentils so they mix in and add their flavor to the sambar.
Use veggies of choice - Each veggie has a distinct flavor and can change the sambar flavor so use veggies that you prefer and like.
Dal quality - Use good quality, freshly stocked lentils since age-old lentils will take more time and water to cook.
Sambar taste and color depend heavily on the sambar powder used. So use a good quality sambar powder. If using store-bought make sure it smells and tastes fresh/good.
I prefer my sambar powder not too spicy that way I can control the spice level and use Everest or MTR sambar powder. In addition, I use Kashmiri red chili powder for a good sambar color without making it too spicy.
Adjust spices to your preference by adding more red chili powder or sambar powder or reducing it to make it less spicy.
Sambar consistency - I prefer this sambar on the thicker side so I can serve it with rice. You can adjust consistency to your preference by adding water a little at a time. Sambar thickens over time so adjust the consistency with water and taste for seasoning.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Sambar is vegan unless cooked in ghee. So cook it in oil to keep it vegan.
To keep sambar gluten-free, skip asafoetida (hing) or use a gluten-free one.
Yes, but the taste will not be the same but will still taste great. You can replace sambar powder with other spices like coriander powder, garam masala along with red chili powder, and turmeric to make it more like mix veg dal.
Leftover sambar can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.
More Instant Pot Lentil Recipes
Hope you enjoy this Mix Vegetable Sambar recipe !! If you give this recipe a try, please rate by clicking stars ⭐️ on the recipe card. Thank you ❤️! You can also follow me on Facebook | Instagram to see what’s cooking in my kitchen!!
Vegetable Sambar (Mixed Veg Lentil Curry)
- Instant Pot or Pressure cooker
- 1 cup toor dal arhar, split pigeon peas
- 3-4 cups water
- 1 tablespoon ginger minced
- 1 tablespoon garlic minced, around 4 fat cloves
- ¼ teaspoon asafoetida hing
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1-2 tablespoon sambar powder using store bought, adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1-2 teaspoon tamarind pulp or lemon juice to taste
- ¼ cup cilantro finely chopped
- ½ zucchini slit in half and each half cut into 4 pieces, approx half cup
- 2-3 small eggplants each cut into 4 pieces
- 1 small onion cut in cubes
- 1 medium tomato chopped
- ½ medium green bell pepper chopped
- 1 medium carrot peeled and sliced, approx half cup
- ½ small bottle gourd lauki/ghiya cut big cubes, approx half cup
- Wash the toor dal 3-4 times until the water runs clear. Cut your veggies and gather rest of the ingredients.
- Soak the tamarind in hot water for about 10 mins and squeeze and strain to get the pulp.
Pressure Cooker Method:
- In a pressure cooker add the toor dal, 3 cups water, ginger, garlic, asafoetida, turmeric powder, and salt, mix well. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles.
- Turn off the heat and let the steam release naturally. Open the lid and mash the dal using a whisk to make it smooth.
- Add the veggies and sambar powder, mix and pressure cook for 1 more whistle. Let the steam release naturally again.
- In the mean while make the tadka. In a separate pan heat oil and once hot add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter add the cumin seeds.
- Turn off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients like curry leaves, red chilies, and red chili powder. Mix well. Be careful not to burn the spices.
- Add the Tadka to the sambarl along with tamarind pulp , cilantro and simmer for 10-15 mins. Healthy and nutritious Mix Vegetable Sambar is ready to serve.
Instant Pot Method:
- Start the instant pot in saute mode and add the ghee/oil. Once hot add the mustard seeds and allow them to pop,
- Then add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and red chilies. Saute for a few seconds.
- Immediately add the onions. Saute for 1 min and then add the grated ginger garlic. Keep sautéing until the raw garlic smell goes.
- Add the spices - turmeric, red chili, sambar powder, and salt. Mix well.
- Stir in the veggies (cut bigger chunks), soaked lentils and water. Cancel saute mode.
- For pot in pot rice, to a container (that fits inside the Instant pot), add rinsed rice, water, salt, ghee and cumin seeds (optional). Place a trivet inside the instant pot and place this rice container on top of the trivet.
- Close the instant pot lid with vent to sealing position and cook on manual (pressure cook) high pressure for 10 mins. Once done, do a quick release after 10 mins.
- Remove the rice PIP, cover and keep aside.
- Switch on back to saute mode. Stir in the tamarind pulp some cilantro and simmer for 5-10 mins and Sambar is ready to be served!
- Serve mix vegetable sambar hot with rice, pickle, salad, and papad (optional) on the side for that wholesome, comforting, and nourishing meal.
Update Notes: This post was originally published on May 23, 2017, but was republished with, step by step instructions, updated photos, tips, in January of 2022.