Cook's Hideout: Onion-Green Pepper Sambar

December 27, 2006

Onion-Green Pepper Sambar

I googled the word “Sambar” and was really surprised to see the number of results displayed (around 75,000 of them). I knew sambar is a very versatile dish, but I didn’t realize that each household in south India have their own way of making it. When you think of sambar, you think of (idlis, of course.. but that’s not what I’m thinking here J) spicy lentil-tamarind based soup with veggies. But the different ways in which all these ingredients come together, gives rise to a plethora of sambar recipes.
Doesn't that book look wicked?? This is the book that I carried with me to write down recipes from my mom, my mother-in-law and the TV (there are like 4 different cooking shows on 4 different telugu channels in the span of 2 hours in India and I made sure that I didn’t miss out anything interesting on any of the shows). I have some authentic Andhra dishes and some fancy (can I use that word for food???) dishes in the book that I have to try. Will post about them soon.

For now, here is my mom’s way of making sambar. I used potatoes, green peppers and onions for this.

Toor dal – 1 cup
Onions – 1 large, thinly sliced
Green pepper – 1 medium, sliced thin
Potatoes – 2 medium, sliced thin
Tomatoes – 2 medium, chopped fine
Tamarind paste – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste

For Sambar paste:
Chana dal – 2 tbsp
Urad dal – 2 tbsp
Red chilies – 6
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Pepper cloves – ½ tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Grated coconut (fresh or dry) – 4 tbsp

For Tadka:
Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 6

Rice with Goruchikkudukaya kura, Sambar, Gongura pachadi & onions


  • To make the paste, fry all ingredients except for coconut in 1 tsp ghee. Cool and grind into a smooth paste along with grated coconut. Keep aside.
  • Pressure cook dal until very very smooth (I usually wait for atleast half a dozen whistles in my cooker). Boil the veggies in just enough water till tender.
  • Add chopped tomatoes, cover and cook tomatoes turn mushy.
  • Add the cooked dal (mash it a little bit for smoother texture), tamarind paste, ground paste, salt and 2 cups of water.
  • Bring it to a slow simmer and cook till you get the desired consistency. Add water if you like your sambar on the liquidy side.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a small pan, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves. After the seeds splutter add it to sambar. Mix well.
I always end up making a whole big pot of sambar that lasts for atleast 3-4 meals and I don’t mind that because the taste just keeps getting better the next day. Enjoy with idli or rice.
Check out Sailu's, Trupti's, Mythreyee's, Revathi's and Indira's sambar recipes.


  1. Pavani,
    Aloo in sambhar seems different and interesting. Does this not need any tadka? I will try your version of sambhar soon.Thanks for the recipe! Happy new year !

  2. Hi Lakshmiammal, Thanks for reminding about the tadka. I updated the post. My mom adds potatoes and carrots to sambar and I'm used to that. Do try and let me know if you liked it. Wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous new year.

  3. There are innumerable versions of sambhar and most times when I taste sambhar at a friend's place or a restaurant, I invariably ask them for the recipe..:):)

    Happy New Year and hope the festive season offers its best to you and your family!!

  4. Hey Pavani,never used green peppers in sambar,will try it next time.

    Wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous New year 2007!

    Vini,Venkat and Ananya

  5. Wishing peace, health, and happiness in 2007 and always. Happy New year to you and your family !

  6. Hi Sailaja,
    I agree with you. There might be a million different ways to make sambar. I learnt about adding green peppers from one of my cousin. I guess making sambar is always a learning process.
    Wish you and your family a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

    Thank you for the wishes Vini and I wish you also a very Happy New Year. Do try the recipe and let me know.

    Thank you Priya. Wish you also a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

  7. In Mumbai, we go all the way to the restaurant Called "Status" at Narimam Point mainly because of they serve unlimitted Sambar along with Idli and dosas.

    In fact today for breakfast my wife cooked Potato Vada and Sambar. What a combination ! Maharashtrian dish with South Indian Support.

  8. Hey, I just made this, with adjustments for what I had on hand, including substituting sambhar powder for the paste, and eliminating the coconut powder. In fact, the reason I googled this recipe is that I wanted to know if I could use green peppers and potatoes in sambhar--and I can!

    Smells good, and a preliminary taste is VERY promising.

    Thank you so much for sharing your family's recipe.

    Looking forward to a steaming bowl in just a couple of minutes.

  9. Oh, I also fried some onions in the tadva before adding the cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves, as per another blogger's suggestion on tadva.

    Thanks again!


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