Sambar | An Exotic Indian Dish


Sambar is a popular and highly adored Moringa recipe we prepare often in our home. This exotic dish is a traditional complement to idlis, vadas, and dosas when eaten in India… Yet if you happen to be eating with us, more often than not you’ll be enjoying our famous cilantro brown rice on the side :)


Not only does Sambar offer a complex taste profile and an array of nutritional elements, it happens to be a fun dish to prepare. Essentially, you are making a lentil soup, emphasizing a wonderful Indian flavor.


This tasteful curry draws most of its uniqueness from the various vegetables and spices included in the recipe.One of the main vegetables essential for the traditional version of Sambar is Drumsticks, more commonly known as Moringa. Other vegetables such as okra, tomatoes, onions, pumpkins and potatoes can also be included to enhance the flavor.


Drumsticks (the vegetable from the Moringa tree) are one of the most widely used vegetables in Southern India. Due to our climate down here in South Florida, Moringa grows abundantly here as well. Needless to say, if you have a Moringa tree, odds are that you have lots of it!


For this reason we’re constantly looking for new ways to include Moringa into our daily lives. So without further ado, on to the recipe below. 


Sambar Recipe

Ingredients (240 ml cup used):

  • ¾ cup Pigeon Pea Lentils
  • 3 Moringa Drumsticks (Cut to finger length)
  • 3 Onions Halved or 10 shallots
  • 1 Large Tomato (chopped finely)
  • 1 to 2 Slit Green chillies
  • ½ tbsp. Ginger Garlic Paste
  • ½ tsp. Red Chilli Powder
  • ¼ tsp. Turmeric Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Sambar Masala
  • Small Lemon Sized Tamarind Ball
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. Freshly Grated Coconut



  • 1 Dry Red Chilli (broken)
  • 10 to 15 Curry Leaves
  • ½ tsp. Mustard Seeds
  • ½ tsp. Cumin Seeds
  • ¼ tsp. Fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 1 Garlic Crushed slightly
  • 1 tbsp. Coconut Oil
  • Pinch of Asafoetida
  • Coriander leaves



  1. Using a pressure cooker: add 1½ to 2 cups of water. Add ¾ cup lentils. Pressure cook lentils for 3 minutes. If you don’t have a cooker use a heavy base pan to cook lentils.  
  2. Soak the tamarind in hot water for 15 minutes. Squeeze and filter the juice.
  3. Take a pot and add 4 cups of water. Chop all the vegetables and add to the pot. Bring to a boil and let simmer for approximately 10 minutes.
  4. Next add salt, turmeric, sambar powder, red chilli powder, and ginger garlic paste into the pot.
  5. Let cook until the drumsticks are soft and tender.
  6. Next add freshly grated coconut and tamarind juice into the pot.
  7. Mash the lentils to make a puree. Add this into the pot with few coriander leaves for the aroma. Stir and bring the mixture to boil.
  8. For tempering take another pan and add coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, add mustard, cumin and fenugreek seeds.
  9. Once they start crackling, add red chili, curry leaves and garlic into the pan. *Add a pinch of asafoetida if possible.                             .
  10. Turn off the heat and add the tempering from the pan to the Sambar pot.
  11. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.
  12. Your Sambar is ready to be served with rice, dosas or idlis.



Make sure to use tender Moringa drumsticks. Add more vegetables to put your own twist on the dish (ex: Carrots, Eggplants, etc). 


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