Vegetarian Sambar soup with yellow split peas

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Sambar with tamarind and coconut

On our last trip to India we enjoyed a cooking class at the Red Earth Eco lodge in Karnataka about 60km south of Mysore and only accessible via a car. The lodge itself is located along the banks of the Kabini Lake which provides the main water source for the Nagarhole and Bandipur Tiger reserves within the Wayanad forests. We were lucky on our safari to see a pair of tigers and other large forest animals like the Sambar deer for which this spice blend earns its namesake. We thoroughly recommend a trip to this part of India.
The Sambar spice blend is a very versatile spice and there are many ways you can use this warm and aromatic spice. In this recipe, we have used yellow split peas and added in pumpkin for sweetness but there are many different styles and we suggest once you have tried this one that you check out the 14 different sambar recipes for veg recipes of India website

Spices used in this recipe

photo from veg recipes of india


  1. Add Toor dal, tomatoes, pumpkin, water and half the chopped onion to a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down to simmer and cook for 20min till dal is soft. Use a stick blender to puree the dal and pumpkin mixture.

    Add the tamarind and coconut cream and stir well.
    Season to taste with salt if required or add a little more tamarind to taste.
    Turn off the heat and keep warm.

  2. Tempering spices: Heat oil in fry pan and add rest of the onion, chopped capsicum, black mustard seeds, curry leaves, Sambar spice and whole chilli.
    Saute on medium until the red color from the chilli runs into the oil – about 10 min.
    In a separate sauce pan, steam the chopped vegetables until cooked, then add into the dal mixture and stir gently.

    Add the tempered spices into the dal and serve with roti, idli, dosa, chapatti or toasted sour dough bread.
    Garnish with fresh coriander leaves


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