15 people made this

About this recipe: Sambar is a popular dish in South India and Sri Lanka, consisting of lightly spiced lentils in a tamarind and coconut sauce. Serve hot with steamed rice. The ingredients should be available at any Asian shop. The tamarind pulp may be substituted with reconstituted tamarind paste.


Serves: 4 

  • 200g (7 oz) toor dal (yellow lentils)
  • 450ml (16 fl oz) water
  • 100g (4 oz) tamarind pulp
  • 100ml (4 fl oz) water
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon channa dal
  • 1 tablespoon desiccated coconut
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 1 dessertspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida

Prep:30min  ›  Cook:15min  ›  Ready in:45min 

  1. Place toor dhal in a saucepan with 450ml water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until soft, about 15 minutes.
  2. In another saucepan, mix together the tamarind pulp, and stir in 100ml water to make a watery juice. Bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Add the green pepper and tomato to the tamarind juice, and continue to boil until the vegetables are soft, and the liquid has reduced to almost half.
  3. Meanwhile, grind the coriander seeds, channa dha, coconut and chillies to a paste using a mortar and pestle or food processor. Add this paste to the tamarind sauce, then stir in the toor dhal until everything is well blended. Bring to the boil once again, then remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Heat oil in a small frying pan over medium heat, and add the mustard seed, cumin seed and asafoetida. Once the mustard seeds start to pop and the mixture is fragrant, remove from heat and stir into sambar. Serve hot.


Toor dal, the most widely used dal in India, will be available in your local Asian shop, or via the Internet. You could, however, substitute yellow split peas in a pinch. Channa dal are similar to chickpeas, but smaller, and split in half. They're similar to toor dal and also available at South Asian shops.

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Reviews (4)


Just made this ... followed recipe to the letter, FAR too much tamarind - it is inedible. Avoid - or cut tamarind in half or more ... - 04 Dec 2012


We loved this and I will definitely make it again. I had tamarind concentrate so following reviews above didn't add too much. - 11 Aug 2015


what a treat - an authentic lentil recipe, quite sour but as it should be, the lentils take a good 1/2hour to soften, and plenty more water. I added 1/2tsp salt - 14 Jan 2014

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