Sambar Soup

sambar soup

Sambar goes so well with freshly made dosas.


Sambar is the perfect accompaniment for Dosas. I’m a big dosa fan and make them all the time. This sambar soup is always on the menu when I do.

Sambar can be cooked in about half an hour. Unfortunately, dosas take a bit more time. You need to plan ahead to make dosas as the fermenting process takes 36 hours.

If you’re looking for a delicious  – mildly spiced – soup, give this sambar a go. It’s great served on its own too or with a piece of crusty French bread.

This sambar – like the dosas I make – is from Southern India. The original recipe which was sent to me by a friend includes chunks of aubergine (eggplant). I used to include it but I’m not a big fan of the vegetable.

If you’d like to try it with the aubergine, add it just after your blend the soup.

Sambar soup

Make this one today. You’ll be glad you did.

Sambar Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Side dish or main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
  • 250g (1/2lb) toor dhal (split pigeon pea lentils)
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 4 large chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic and ginger paste
  • 1 green chilli pepper - chopped
  • 50g fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 small bunch fresh coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 20 fresh curry leaves
  1. Soak the split pigeon peas in hot water for 20 minutes.
  2. Drain and rinse and then pour into a large saucepan.
  3. Add 1½ litres water and heat over high heat.
  4. As you do this, a foam will raise to the top. Skim this off until no foam remains and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  5. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the pigeon peas are soft.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes, ginger and ginger paste and green chilli and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes.
  7. Now, using a hand held blender (or any blender) blend until smooth. I do this for about five minutes.
  8. Add the rest of the ingredients up to the tarka ingredients and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  9. Remove the sambar from the heat while you make your tarka.
  10. In a small saucepan, heat the oil until hot but not yet boiling.
  11. Toss in the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, throw in the curry leaves and sprinkle in the asafoetida.
  12. Very carefully, add this seasoned oil to the sambar. The oil may spit some so I do suggest standing back a little when you do this.
  13. Stir in into the sambar and bring back up to heat.
  14. Serve hot with dosas or on its own