Cookbook | Ingredients | Recipes | Cuisine of India

The South Indian staple breakfast item of idli, sambar, and vada served on a banana leaf.

Sambar or sambhar (Kannada: ಸಾಂಬಾರ್‍, Malayalam: സാമ്പാർ, Tamil சாம்பார் (சாம்பாறு in Sri Lanka), Telugu: సాంబారు), pronounced "saambaar", is a dish common in southern India and Sri Lanka, made of dal (usually red gram, also called toor dal) and vegetables in a spicy tamarind and dal flour soup base. Sambar is usually poured over or alongside steamed rice. In the south of India, vada sambar and idli sambar are popular breakfast foods.

Several minor variants exist depending on the meal of the day, region, and the vegetable used. Sambar without dal (but with vegetables or fish) is called kozhambu in Tamil Nadu. There are major and minor variants of kozhambu (mor kozhambu, vathal kozhambu, rasavangi, etc.) Note that there are minor but subtle differences in preparation between all the variants (for instance, whether vegetables are added to the tamarind water or vice versa, which make them taste different).

Sambar with rice is one of the main courses of both formal and everyday south Indian cuisine. It is also served with idli, dosa and vada. It is not uncommon to eat sambar rice with appalam (papad).


  • Sambar masala can also be made by grinding together but frying individually the following with a drop of sunflower, groundflower or gingily (sesame) oil until you get a mild roasted smell:

5 spoons of coriander seeds, 3 spoons of channa dal (split dried chickpeas), 2 spoons of sesame seeds, 20 strands of chilli (can be adjusted to taste), 3 spoons of desiccated coconut, 20 curry leaves, 1/2 spoon fenugreek seeds , 1 spoon of asafoetida powder.

It can be stored for a month


  1. Wash the dal, and cook in water with salt until absolutely tender, no grains remain.
  2. Add sambhar masala, sugar and vegetables, including the onions, and cook until the vegetables are tender, and add tamarind.
    Note : It is better to add the tamarind juice after the vegetables are tenderly cooked.
  3. For seasoning (Tadka), Heat oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the whole red peppers and the curry leaves.
  4. Stir 2-3 times, then add the dal mixture. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for about 5 minutes.

Variation - Kerala/Tamil styleEdit



  1. Wash and cook the dal until soft.
  2. Heat the pan and pour 1 tsp oil, add asafoetida, chili powder and coriander powder and seed and fry them well.
  3. Now add coconut and fry till the mixture is dark red in colour (do not burn it).
  4. Wash the vegetables and boil them with turmeric powder.
  5. When the vegetables are almost done add tamarind paste and allow it to boil for sometime (keep the stove in sim).
  6. Now grind the coconut mixture and add mashed dal to it.
  7. Add the mixture to the vegetables and let it boil for some time. Add desired salt.
  8. When the sambar is done season it by spluttering mustard and adding curry leaves to it.
  9. Finally add finely chopped coriander leaves and the sambar is done.

Serve hot, garnished with the coriander leaves.