How to Make South Indian Vegetable Toor Dal Sambar Recipe

Sambar is a delicious and nutritious stew made with toor dal (split pigeon peas), mixed vegetables, tamarind and a special spice blend called sambar powder. It is a staple dish in South Indian cuisine and goes well with rice, idli, dosa, vada and other snacks. Sambar is also rich in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals and can be enjoyed as a wholesome meal.


To make South Indian vegetable toor dal sambar, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup toor dal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 10 to 12 curry leaves
  • 2 dry red chilies
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1 green chili, slit
  • 2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons sambar powder (you can use store-bought or homemade)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp (soak a small lemon-sized ball of tamarind in hot water for 10 minutes and squeeze out the pulp)
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cups chopped mixed vegetables of your choice (you can use drumstick, okra, pumpkin, carrot, brinjal, beans, potato, etc.)
  • A few sprigs of coriander leaves for garnish
How to Make South Indian Vegetable Toor Dal Sambar Recipe


To make South Indian vegetable toor dal sambar, follow these steps:

  1. Wash the toor dal and soak it in 2 cups of water for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Transfer the soaked dal with the water to a pressure cooker and add turmeric powder. Pressure cook for 4 to 5 whistles on high flame or until the dal is soft and mushy.
  3. Once the pressure releases, open the cooker lid and mash the dal with a ladle or a whisk. Keep it aside.
  4. Heat oil in a large pot or kadai over medium-high flame. Add mustard seeds and let them crackle.
  5. Add asafoetida, curry leaves and dry red chilies and fry for a few seconds.
  6. Add onion, green chili and ginger-garlic paste and sauté for about 10 minutes or until the onion turns golden brown.
  7. Add tomato and salt and cook for another 10 minutes or until the tomato becomes soft and mushy.
  8. Add sambar powder and mix well. Cook for a minute or until the raw smell of the spice powder goes away.
  9. Add tamarind pulp and water and bring the mixture to a boil.
  10. Add the chopped mixed vegetables and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and tender.
  11. Add the cooked and mashed dal and mix well. Adjust the consistency by adding more water if needed. Adjust the seasoning by adding more salt, sambar powder or tamarind pulp if needed.
  12. Simmer for another 10 minutes or until the sambar is well combined and aromatic.
  13. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice, idli, dosa, vada or any other snack of your choice.


  • You can use any combination of vegetables that you like or have on hand. Some common vegetables used in sambar are drumstick, okra, pumpkin, carrot, brinjal, beans, potato, radish, etc.
  • You can also use moong dal (split green gram) or masoor dal (split red lentils) instead of toor dal for making sambar. However, toor dal gives the best taste and texture for sambar.
  • You can use store-bought or homemade sambar powder for making sambar. Homemade sambar powder is more flavorful and aromatic than store-bought ones.
  • You can adjust the sourness of the sambar by adding more or less tamarind pulp according to your taste preference. You can also use lemon juice instead of tamarind pulp for a different flavor.
  • You can adjust the consistency of the sambar by adding more or less water according to your liking. Some people prefer thick and creamy sambar while some prefer thin and watery sambar.
  • You can also add some jaggery or sugar to balance the sourness and spiciness of the sambar. This is optional but adds a nice touch of sweetness to the sambar.