5 Hacks to Make the Perfect Bowl of Sambar

In search of a fragrant bowl of piping hot sambar? Stop. Right. Here

Priya Prakasan

Sambar is an indispensable part of the south Indian cuisine. The wholesome must-have accompaniment served with popular south Indian breakfast options such as dosa, idli, vada, appam and more. The lentil-based broth is prepared with a variety of seasonal vegetables. Some of the common veggies used to make this dish are drumstick, brinjal, okra, carrot. You will come across regional differences within the southern states when it comes to the types of vegetables, spices used and even the method of preparing this protein and fibre-rich dish. A study also suggests that sambar can prevent colon cancer.

According to the report published in 2016 by National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), the prevalence of colon cancer is less in India and the possible reason for that could be the vegetarian diet and the use of Indian spices that are not only known for their flavour but also for the medicinal properties. The report concluded that consumption of sambar can significantly reduce the risk of the risk of dimethyl hydrazine (DMH)-induced colon cancer, which is the third commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of mortality in USA

If you still struggle with making the perfect bowl of sambar, dread not, we asked a bunch of South Indian homemakers and these tips will help you to make a delectable bowl of sambar at home.

Learn how to make sambar under 30 minutes

DIY Sambar Powder

It is actually the sambar powder that can make or break this dish. Ditch the readily available sambar powder from your local grocery store, instead make a batch of sambar powder from scratch at home. Though it might sound like a tedious process, it is not, and your sambar will start tasting much better when you use homemade sambar powder. Another tip that you can keep handy is to add the sambar powder while cooking the vegetables in the cooker instead of adding it during the tempering process.

Also Read: How to Make Sambar Powder at Home

Toor Dal

It is also important to choose the right kind of dal when making sambar. Try using organic dal, which is not polished and is small and flat. Using the right kind of toor dal can elevate the texture and flavour of your sambar. Never scrimp on the dal, as it holds all the other components together.


Coconut oil is used for tempering in most parts of Kerala while sesame oil or ghee is used extensively in parts of Tamil Nadu. Usually, the tempering of spices, even in vegetable oil, adds a punch of flavour to the sambar. So, if you are not keen on using coconut oil, you can always stick to your regular vegetable oil. Click here for an easy recipe of sambar sadam.

Runny Sambar?

If your sambar turns out to be runny, there are a couple of hacks that you can rely on. Mash the cooked toor dal and mix it to improve the texture. Otherwise, you can add a tad bit of rice flour to thicken it or a little bit of cooked rice ground into a paste and then added to the sambar will also thicken the consistency.


Hing or asafoetida is a staple ingredient in an Indian kitchen. Often it is available in powdered form, which is added during the tempering. But another way to infuse more flavour to your sambar is to roast whole hing in some oil, grind it into powder and then add it while cooking. The distinct flavour of roasted hing will make your sambar really tasty.

Also Read: 

Make Rice Meals Yummier With This Easy Sambar Recipe

Jaggery and Tamarind

Tamarind is an essential ingredient added in sambar, always make the tamarind pulp by mixing tamarind ball with some hot water instead of the store-bought tamarind paste. Another tip to add more flavour to your sambar is instead of soaking it in water and using the pulp, it can also be ground with the spice mix when making the sambar powder. In Karnataka, you will notice a mild sweet note in the sambar preparation because of the inclusion of jaggery. You too can add a bit of jaggery for sweetness.

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