Sambhar (Indian Vegetable Soup)


I have cooked and eaten sambhar for years now… yet I never really had it down. It was always too watery, or not the correct texture, or some other small factor that made it taste not-quite-authentic–but I think I have it down to a science now.

There are actually quite a few ways to make sambhar that vary depending on what you’re eating the sambhar with–but a simple sambhar is really basic. I do not try to make my own sambhar powder anymore (I don’t have good equipment to make spice powders) so I used the pre-made mixes from the store, and the results are just fine (it’s like making your own pumpkin spice, you can do it, but the pre-made mixes from the store work just as well).

Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Special equipment: pressure cooker


Cook in pressure cooker… 1-2 whistles.

    • 1/2 cup moong dal
    • 4 cups water
    • 1/2 tsp hing
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp sambhar powder

Saute briefly in a separate pan (I usually do this until the onions have softened, and then add on the tomatoes near the end mostly to heat them up).

    • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
    • handful green beans, ends removed and chopped
    • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped,
    • 4 shallots, chopped
    • 1 red bell pepper (green is bitter), stemmed and seeded, then chopped.
    • 2 tsp sambhar powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • (optional) 0-1 cups of water (if it seems low)
    • (optional) 1 tsp tamarind paste (this is really a matter of taste, and what you’re eating it with–more buttery without, more savory with)

Once pressure cooker is opened, add all vegetables. Mix well to help mush up the dal.

Replace the lid, and cook for 1-2 whistles. 

(After cooking, your carrots should be soft, and your green beans should still have some resistance.)

Wait for the pressure cooker to cool down so you can open the lid. Heat oil and mustard seeds until the mustard seeds pop, throw in curry leaves. When the pressure cooker is open toss in the hot oil with the seeds and leaves. Mix together.

    • 2 tbsp oil
    • 1 tsp mustard seeds
    • 4-5 curry leaves (NOT curry powder, if you don’t have the leaves then just skip this)

Serve with rice!


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