Sambhar/ Sambar - Spicy South Indian Vegetable Stew

Author: Michelle Peters - Jones at The Tiffin Box
Recipe with pictures and further instructions:

1 cup yellow split peas (tuvar/ toor dal)

4 cups water + 2 – 3 cups extra
1 large zucchini, cubed
1 large aubergine, cubed
1 large onion, chopped into large dice
½ head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons sambhar masala (spice mix)
½ teaspoon concentrated tamarind paste (or use 1 extra tomato, chopped)
½ teaspoon (or to taste) hot cayenne pepper or chilli powder
Salt to taste
Large handful fresh cilantro, to garnish, if desired

For the tempering (tarka/ tadka/ phon)

1 tablespoon unscented oil
2 sprigs curry leaves, picked
1 teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 whole long, mild red chillies


Wash the split peas, and place in a large pot. Cover with 4 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and boil hard for five minutes, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface. Turn down the heat and simmer for 30 – 45 minutes, until they are tender and crush easily with the back of a fork. Take off the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

Transfer the cooked split peas along with any remaining water to another large pot, and add the zucchini, aubergine, chopped onion, cauliflower and tomato.

Stir in the sambhar masala, tamarind paste, if using and the cayenne pepper. Add the extra 2 – 3 cups water, depending on how thick you like your sambhar. Season with a little salt.

Stir again, then cover and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are all tender, but with a bite to them.

Taste and add more salt to your taste, adjusting the seasoning until the sambhar is well flavoured.

Take off the heat, while you prepare the tempering.

To make the tadka, or tempering, heat the oil in a pan. Add the currey leaves, mustard seeds, garlic and red chillies, and fry quickly until the seeds start to pop. Pour the whole lot into the sambar, and stir.

Stir in the fresh cilantro, just before serving, if desired.