Total Time
1hr 10mins
Prep 30 mins
Cook 40 mins

Yummy South Indian lentils and vegetables, a favourite Indian breakfast dish with idli (rice dumplings) or dosai (Indian pancakes). This recipe is not at all difficult - just assemble all the prepared ingredients before commencing to cook, and take one step at a time. I prefer to use freshly grated coconut, but unsweetened dried coconut is perfectly acceptable. Sambhar masala can be obtained from an Indian grocer, or make your own from Sambhar Masala (much more fun!). I make this Sambhar with Toor dahl, and eat it with rice for the main meal of the day.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. In a heatproof bowl, combine the tamarind pulp and 1 cup of boiling water, and let stand for 30 minutes. At the end of this time, squeeze and press the tamarind with your fingers to release as much pulp in the water as possible, then strain, discard the fibrous residue and seeds, and reserve the tamarind water.
  2. Meanwhile, place the lentils in a deep saucepan, add the 3 cups of water and the turmeric, and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and gently cook, uncovered, until the lentils are just tender, 20 to 30 minutes. If the water evaporates too quickly, add another 1/2 to 1 cup in total.
  3. While the lentils are cooking, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small skillet, and saute the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, sambhar masala, dried red chillies, asafoetida, curry leaves, garlic and coconut, until the coconut becomes a golden brown - take care not to burn. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. When the lentils are tender, add the sauteed spice mix, along with the prepared vegetables, tomatoes and the tamarind water. Mix well, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are just tender. This should take 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how small or large you have diced the vegetables. As the tomatoes cook down, they should provide enough fluid to simmer the other vegetables in, but you can add another 1/2 cup water at your discretion.
  5. Just before serving, heat the extra oil in a small skillet, and saute the sliced garlic and fresh cilantro for 30 seconds. Pour this mixture over the sambhar and mix through gently.
  6. Serve immediately.
Most Helpful

I made this for lunch today, and my sixteen month old daughter ended up eating over half of the bowl I'd made for myself. I did skip the coconut, simply because I didn't have any. My veggies were pearl onions, carrots and spinach. I served it over couscous (is that too cross-cultural? At least it wasn't served over egg noodles!), and it was delicious. I will keep this in rotation. Thanks for this recipe!

Kirby November 20, 2007

I am a novice when it comes to Indian cooking but this turned out pretty good. I added 3/4 tsp salt. Thanks for the recipe.

beckas February 04, 2007