Essential Sambar recipes everyone should try

November 7, 2017

The lentil-based vegetable stew Sambar is a popular South Indian and Sri Lankan dish. The origins of this famous dish are often open for debate, but one story lays somewhere in the 17th Century; in the kitchen of the Thanjavur Marathas ruler Shahuji.

It is said to be created by mistake when the chef attempted to make ‘amti’ (a spicy, sweet and sour lentil dish); replacing mung beans with pigeon peas, and using tamarind pulp in place of kokum (a fruit native to western India).

The court named the dish after the second emperor of the Maratha Empire, the guest of honour that day: Sambhaji.

Steaming bowls of Sambar have become a favourite amongst South Indians and have gradually travelled across India to become a national favourite.

Whatever its origins, the future is looking bright for this marvellous dish, as its fame is crossing oceans. Sambar aren’t as common in the UK as other curries, but things may be about to change.

Traditionally Sambar is made using an exclusive selection of vegetables, or a mixture of:

  • Okra
  • Moringa
  • Carrot
  • Radish
  • Pumpkin
  • Potato
  • Tomato
  • Brinjal (aubergine)
  • Whole or halved shallots or onions

Take a look at our compilation of some of the greatest Sambar recipes available:

Classic Sambar

The age-old favourite recipe takes yellow lentils and cooks them in a broth of masalas, curry leaves and fresh veggies. Floral and layered flavours and smells will make your mouth water. The dish is usually eaten with ‘Dosas’; a Southern Indian styled crepe, or ‘Idlis’; a steamed rice cake.

Brinjal Sambar

A new imagining of a classic. The vintage Sambar recipe is taken to the next level with the fresh addition of brinjal; a fried aubergine dish.

Buttermilk Sambar

Buttermilk is hugely popular right now, so take advantage of this creamy twist on the Sambar. Brinjal and ladyfingers are the main components in this dish along with the silky inclusion of buttermilk.

Arachu Vitta Sambar

This dish plays an integral part in the Onam festival and the Sadyha; one of the most elaborate multi-course meals anywhere in the world. An authentic Sambar filled with various dals, coconut and tamarind.

Keep an eye out for Sambar on the menu next time you head out to your local restaurant. Manchester based Royal Nawaab has a huge selection of curries – a sure place for you to find your new favourite dish.