Oil free Sambar

I love my visits to the Bombay Airport. The Shiv Sagar outlet there does a mean Sambar with some delectable mini idlis. Their sambar is one of the best I have ever had and I have been attempting to recreate that. My friend and co-blogger Sujatha Arun does a delightful tiffin sambar and the basic idea for this oil-free sambar was born there. I wanted the Shiv Sagar taste but no oil. So after a few attempts I got it just as I wanted it. The sambar masala is home- made and makes all the difference. A big shout of thanks to my buddy Priya Arun for sharing her family recipe!
It also hides  a cupful of  Lauki (bottle gourd) or kaddoo (pumpkin) in it’s delicious depths and the boys down bowlfuls without a fuss. Sneaky mommy at work 😛
For the sambar masala
Akkha/Sabut Dhaniya (whole dry coriander) – 100 gms ( ½ cup)
Jeera (Cumin seeds)- 25 gms ( 1 ½ Tbsp)
Daana Methi (fenugreek seeds) – 10 grams (1/2 Tbsp)
Kashmiri red chillies,whole- 25- 30 (can use byadgiwhole chilies and some kashmiri chilli powder in case not available)
Heeng (asafetida)- a heaped tsp
Curry leaves- 25-50
Raw rice- 1 Tbsp
Tuar daal- 1 tsp
Brush a skillet/heavy bottomed pan with 2 drops of oil and roast the sabut dhaniya for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
On the same skillet roast the following one at a time
Jeera- roast and remove
Daana methi- roast and remove
Whole red chillies+ curry leaves- roast and remove.
Rice and tuar daal- roast and  heeng at the end. Remove in a minute as the heeng tends to burn fast.
Cool completely and grind.
Store in an airtight container.


For the Sambar
Arhar/Tuar daal (Moong daal works well too) – 1 cup
Lauki (Bottle gourd) or kaddoo (pumpkin),cubed- 1 cup
Onion,cubed- I
Garlic,mined- 1 tsp
Ginger,grated- 1 tsp
Green chillies,chopped fine- 1 or 2
Tomatoes, pureed- 2-3
Sambar masala- a heaped tbsp
Tamarind pulp/tamarind chutney- 1 tbsp
Kashmiri red chili powder- a heaped tsp (or less as per taste)
Curry Leaves 7-8
Salt- 1 tsp (adjust to taste)
Turmeric- ¼ tsp
Wash and soak the daal for an hour.
Rinse the daal and pressure cook it with the bottle gourd/pumpkin, onion, garlic,ginger,green chilly, salt, turmeric and enough water till well cooked.


After a whitle,lower the flame and cook for ten minutes on low heat.Open and whisk well with a balloon whisk.Keep some pieces of the vegetable out before you whisk in case you like some chunks in the sambar.


Adjust the consistency by adding more water, if it is too thick.
Add the curry leaves, tomato puree, Kashmiri red chilly powder, sambar masala and boil for 10-12 minutes on low heat.


Add the tamarind pulp/tamarind chutney and boil for another 5 minutes. (if using  tamarind pulp, add a tsp of sugar)

Serve hot with idlis ( find the recipe here )or rice.
If desired, the sambar can be tempered with a tsp of mustard seeds and some curry leaves  after crackling them in a tsp of hot oil. But one doesn’t really miss it.


20 thoughts on “Oil free Sambar

  1. Pingback: Idli | CaféGarima

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s