Udupi Sambar

(Vegetable Coconut-Lentil based Curry from Temple Town, Udupi)

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Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 20-25 mins
Serves: 5-6
Recipe Source: Pachakam & Amma


1 large Brinjal/Eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes (Thai Green Eggplant or Udupi Gulla Badane is preferred)
3-4 Drum Sticks, cut into 2 inch pieces
10-12 small Sambar Onions/Pearl Onions, peeled or 1 large Onion, thinly sliced
2 large Tomatoes, cubed
2-3 Green Chillies, slit
½-¾ cups Toor Dal/Split Pigeon Pea/Red Gram, washed, pressure cooked with pinch of Turmeric Powder and tsp of Oil and mashed well
1 tsp Tamarind Paste/1 small lime sized Tamarind Pulp, soaked in warm water and juice extracted
1 tsp Jaggery (Adjust acc to taste)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
Small bunch of Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp Oil (Preferably Coconut Oil)
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
Few Curry Leaves
Salt to taste

For Udupi Sambar Powder:
1 tbsp Urad Dal/Split Black Gram
½ tbsp Channa Dal/Spilt Bengal Gram
2 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
½ tsp Methi/Fenugreek Seeds
4-6 Dry Red Chilli (Preferably Byadagi, adjust acc to taste)
1 cup Grated fresh/frozen Coconut

For Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 Dry Red Chilli, halved
¼ tsp Hing/Asafoetida
Few Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Oil, preferably Coconut Oil

Heat 1 tbsp of Coconut Oil in a pan and add sambar/pearl onions, hing and few curry leaves. Sauté it on medium flame for about 2-3 minutes till they turn glossy and translucent.
Add vegetables of your choice with cubed tomatoes and just enough water to cook the vegetables. Mix in turmeric powder, jaggery, tamarind puree/paste and salt to taste. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes till the vegetables are cooked well.
While vegetables are cooking, heat the pan and dry roast all the ingredients listed from Urad Dal to Dry Red Chillies for about a minute. Mix in grated Coconut and roast it along the spices for another minute or so till it turns light golden and aromatic.
Cool and grind these roasted spices and coconut to a smooth paste by adding very little water at time.
Add this ground mixture and mashed toor dal to cooked vegetables and mix well. Adjust the seasoning and add water depending on the required consistency of Sambar. Make sure that the sambar is not too thick or thin. Simmer and bring the whole sambar to gentle boil (takes about 5-7 minutes).
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds, dry red chilli, hing and curry leaves in that order. Transfer the tempering to Sambar when mustard starts to pop and splutter.
Mix in finely chopped coriander leaves and let it sit covered for about 10 mins for all the flavours to blend well. Serve this delicious Udupi Sambar with Idli, Dosas or plain steamed Rice and enjoy.

Prepare Udupi Sambar Masala (minus Coconut from the list) in bulk quantity and store it in an air tight jar for months. When needed dry roast coconut for a minute and grind to smooth paste with this Masala.
You can make Udupi Sambar with just onions by replacing other vegetables.
Make sure that you don’t boil the sambar for too long once ground coconut paste and cooked lentils are added. And also note that the sambar should not be very watery or thick while serving.