Sambar is a popular South Indian recipe prepared with lentils and vegetables which is served as an accompaniment with rice, idli, dosa, medu vada etc. Sambar is mildly tangy and spicy with a rich flavor & aroma of dals, veggies and spices.
There are many variations to sambar recipe and each south Indian state has its own style of preparing it. You can find variations in ingredients used to prepare it, like vegetables, spices, coconut, oil etc. One such delicious variation to sambar is udupi style vegetable sambar which is very unique from other sambar varieties, as it is prepared with freshly roasted spices & coconut with the addition of little jaggery. Adding jaggery balances the spiciness and gives a mild sweetness to the udupi style vegetable sambar.
Udupi is a city of Karnataka-India, which is known for its temples and the notable being Sri Krishna temple. Udupi cuisine is very popular across the world for its vegetarian dishes which uses only locally available ingredients. Few popular udupi dishes are: dosa, idli, mangalore buns, kashi halwa, golibaje, neer dosa, pathrode, menskai, thambuli, kotte kadubu, etc.
Udupi style vegetable Sambar can be prepared using any vegetables of your choice. You can use either one or two vegetables or even can add mixed veggies. Few vegetables which can be used to prepare the sambar are ash gourd, drumstick, potato, brinjal, ash gourd, pumpkin, bottle gourd, pearl onions etc.
Roasting spices on low flame is very important for this udupi style vegetable sambar recipe. The roasted spices are ground along with fresh coconut to a fine thick paste. You can also powder the roasted spices (without coconut) and store it for later use. The ground paste is added to the cooked dal & veggies. Also, the sambar is tempered in coconut oil with mustards, curry leaves and hing/asafoetida. If you do not like the flavor of coconut oil in the sambar, use any vegetable oil.
Udupi style vegetable sambar is similar to varatharacha sambar (kerala sambar). But udupi sambar is slightly sweetish with the addition of jaggery in it. Other process like roasting the spices and grinding with fresh coconut and usage of coconut oil is similar to kerala sambar recipe.
Udupi style vegetable sambar can be served with steamed rice, masala dosa, idli, etc.
½ cup toor dal/pigeon peas
8-10 pearl onions or 1 medium sized onion
1 or 2 drumstick /nuggekai, peeled & cut into 2-3 inches
2 small purple brinjals /bhaigan, chopped
1 or 2 potato, diced
¼ cup ash gourd, chopped (opt)
¼ cup pumpkin, chopped (opt)
1 medium sized tomato, chopped
Small lemon sized tamarind
1 tsp jaggery, or use as per taste
½ tsp turmeric powder
To roast & grind: (Masala paste):
3 tsp coriander seeds/dhaniya
4-5 byadgi chillies/kashmiri red chillies
1 tsp urad dal
¼ tsp methi/fenugreek seeds
½ tsp cumin/jeera
½ cup grated fresh coconut
½ tsp coconut oil or any vegetable oil
Water, as needed to grind
1 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chillies
¼ tsp hing/asafoetida
2-3 springs fresh curry leaves
Coriander leaves, chopped for garnishing
- Wash toor dal and rinse it few times in clear water. Soak toor dal in water for 10-15 minutes. Soaking dal helps in faster cooking. Also wash all the vegetables and chop them into pieces.
- In a small bowl, add hot/warm water and soak tamarind for 10-15 minutes. squeeze out the juice and keep aside.
- Heat a pan and add oil to it. Add coriander seeds, urad dal, jeera, methi seeds and dried red chillies. Fry all of them on a low flame for few minutes. switch off the flame and allow it to cool.
- Once cooled, add it to a mixer jar along with freshly grated coconut. Grind it to powder and then, add water as needed to get a fine thick paste. keep the ground sambar masala paste aside until use.
- In a pressure cooker, add toor dal, pinch turmeric, ½ tsp oil and 1½ cup water. Cook for 2-3 whistles. Let the pressure release by itself. You can cook dal in an open vessel too. Mash cooked dal and keep aside.
- In a heavy bottomed vessel, add all the chopped vegetables along with 2 cups of water and little salt. Let the vegetables cook well. stir in between add more water if needed.
- Once the vegetables are almost done, add cooked and mashed toor dal and mix it well with the veggies. Add little water if needed.
- Now add tamarind juice and bring it to boil till the raw smell of the tamarind disappears.
- Add ground masala paste and mix well with the dal and vegetables. You can add water as needed to get the right consistency of the sambar. Bring it to boil. Also add jaggery and salt to taste.
- Continue to boil for few more minutes until you get a nice aroma of the sambar.
- Heat a small pan/tadka pan and add 1 tbsp of coconut oil or any other vegetable oil.
- When oil is hot, add mustard seeds and let it splutter. Add hing, curry leaves and red chillies. Switch off the flame.
- Pour this hot seasoning to the prepared Udupi vegetable sambar. Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves. Cover the vessel for few minutes before serving.
- Serve hot Udupi Style Vegetable Sambar with rice, idli, dosa etc.
- Udupi sambar can be prepared using one, two or a mix of vegetables.
- Spices can be dry roasted too. make sure you roast them on a low flame.
- Byadgi red chillies are used to prepare the udupi style vegetable sambar as it gives a bright red color. Adjust the quantity to suit your taste.
- Roasted spices can be powdered and store for later use.
- Soaking toor dal before cooking is optional. You can directly add washed dal to the pressure cooker. In that case, you may have to cook it for 5-6 whistles for more.
- You can prepare this sambar without adding coconut too.
- You can add more jaggery (up to 2tbsp), if you like the sambar to be sweeter.
- Using coconut oil for tempering enhances the flavor of udupi style vegetable sambar, but can use other vegetable oils too.
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