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  • 1 cup of Yellow Split Peas (Toor Dal) or Red Lentils (Masoor Dal)
  • 4 Potatoes (Aaloo) (diced)
  • 28 ounces of Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 cup of either one Rutabaga, Turnips or Carrots (Gaajar) (shredded or grated)
  • 4 Eggplants (Baingan) (preferably Asian) (cut into bite-size chunks)
  • Vegetables (any to your preferance) (2 cups of whichever vegetable you use.) (cut into large bite-size pieces) (Here are some that may be used: broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, peas, collard greens, jackfruit seeds, carrots, snap beans.)
  • 2 Green Chillies (Hari Mirch) (halved lengthwise) (more or less may used depending on spice preferance.)
  • 4 Drumsticks (cut into 2" lengths) (optional)
  • ½ cup of Unsweetened Coconut (Khopra) (shredded)
  • ¼ cup of Sambar Powder
  • 1 tsp. of Salt
  • 1 tsp. of Tamarind Concentrate or Lemon/Lime Juice (from 4 lemons or limes.)

  • 10 Fresh Curry Leaves (Karhi Pattay)
  • 1 heaping tsp. of Black Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tbsp. of Clarified Butter (Ghee) or Cooking Oil
  • 1 clove of Garlic (Lehsan) (crushed) or ¼ tsp. of Asafoetida (Heeng)

Note: Indians would make and add the tempering at the end.
Americans tend to start with it and add the other ingredients so that they cook into it.
Both techniques are explained below.

  1. Toast the lentils over moderate heat until a light toasty aroma arises and the color changes slightly. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are soft and can be stirred into a creamy consistency. (Add water while cooking if needed so as not to scorch.) (Yellow lentils will take an hour or more, while red lentils will take about 20 minutes.)
  2. Meanwhile, make the tempering (if following American timing): Heat the clarified butter or oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and immediately cover the pan, because they will splutter and pop. When the spluttering has subsided, stir in the curry leaves, garlic or asafoetida, then add in the potatoes and sauté them for about 2 minutes. (If doing this Indian style, sauté the potatoes in the oil or ghee and wait until the end to making the tempering.) Stir in the shredded rutabaga or your chosen root vegetable and sauté with the potato until fairly limp.
  3. Add the tomato, then the coconut, then 2 cups of water, and cook, stirring occasionally. When the water is just about to a boiling point, add the tamarind or lime juice. Stir in the sambar powder and salt.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir everything together. Add another 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
  5. Cook until the vegetables are tender but not overcooked, (about 15 to 40 minutes), depending on the vegetables. Sambar should have a spicy, somewhat sour flavor, with sour outweighing any salty flavor. Adjust to your own taste with tamarind or lime juice.
  6. Slowly add the lentils into the sambar while stirring, making it nice and creamy. (For Indian style, now make and add the tempering.)

Note: Every South Indian makes sambar differently and there are various kinds. In richer households the sambar will probably be thicker.
But in general the sambar there is thinner than our recipe so feel free to vary.
To me what makes it taste South Indian is the spices and tempering.

Sambar can be eaten with rice and with light South Indian dishes such as idli , a steamed dumpling, or dosa , a sort of large rolled pancake.
It is often accompanied by coconut chutney.

Serving Suggestions: Serve with Idli or Dosa
Yield: About 12 cups
Cooking Time: 1 ½ to 2 hours
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Recipe Category: Main Course Vegetarian and Appetizer
Recipe Ethnic Group: South Indian
Recipe Requested by, Khan Firdous (U.S.A.)
Another Delicious Main Course Vegetarian Dish You Should Try - Chola Bhatura
Another Delicious Appetizer You Should Try - Idli