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Mixed Veg sambar in a pan with tempering and cilantro on the side.

Vegetable Sambar (Mixed Veg Lentil Curry)

Shweta Arora
Sambar is a South Indian lentil and mixed vegetable stew. It is spicy, tangy, hearty, loaded with veggies and so delicious! Here is how to make 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.
4.50 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 6
Calories 170 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
  

  • 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

Veggies Used:

  • 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

Tadka (Tempering):

  • 1-2 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 10-15 curry leaves
  • 2-3 dried red chillies
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder adjust to taste

Pot In Pot Rice

  • 1 cup Basmati Rice rinsed 3-4 times until water runs clear.
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds optional
  • cups water

Instructions
 

Prep Work

  • 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!

Serving Suggestion

  • Serve mix vegetable sambar hot with rice, pickle, salad, and papad (optional) on the side for that wholesome, comforting, and nourishing meal.

Notes

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 taste 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.
Storage - Leftover sambar can be stored in an air-tight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. 
Vegan and Gluten-free - Skip ghee to keep it vegan and skip asafoetida (hing) to keep it gluten-free. 

Nutrition

Calories: 170kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 6mg | Sodium: 434mg | Potassium: 548mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 2196IU | Vitamin C: 53mg | Calcium: 60mg | Iron: 2mg
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