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Instant Pot Sambar

by Sophie

Spicy, tangy South Indian, Instant Pot Sambar with seasonal vegetables and a with traditional curry leaf tempering – that’s my idea of comfort food. This spicy lentil stew dish is the easiest and quickest instant pot sambar recipe that you will ever make.

Instant Pot Sambar

What is Sambar?

Sambar is a south Indian lentil dish often cooked with vegetables and tempered with mustard seeds. Unlike the North Indian version of the daals, the sambar has spices or spice mix often known as sambar powder. Another important element in my instant pot sambar is its typical tanginess from the tamarind pulp.

Instant pot sambar dish

You may or may not add it, but adding tamarind does uplift the flavor. Usually, the south Indian sambar recipe calls for seasonal vegetables. However, the most common vegetables used in sambar are small pearl onions, drumstick, radish, green beans, and squash or carrots. My favorite combination of sambar vegetable is radish, small onions, tomatoes, carrots, beans, and eggplant. 

South Indian vegetable sambar

Why Should You Make Sambar in The Instant Pot?

Instant pot gives two options to cook sambar and without needing you to watch it while it cooks the delicious sambar. In the first method, you can add cooked dal and cook the way I did. The second method is PIP, where you cook raw toor dal in the instant pot with spices and cook vegetables in a steamer rack. Both methods are convenient, quick and yield the best-tasting sambar.

Instant pot vegetable sambar

What is Sambar Made of?

The base of sambar is toor dal or split pigeon peas dal, sambar masala, spices, tamarind, and seasonal vegetable. This spicy soup is then tempered with dried red chilies, curry leaves, and mustard seeds. Regional versions vary and that’s why sambar may contain coconut, local vegetables, homemade spices, and even sambar chilies.

What do you eat with Sambar?

Sambar is often eaten with rice, idli, and dosa. But I like to eat sambar as a soup, with my quinoa and even with my rice flour pancakes. 

Ingredients of Sambar

What is the origin of sambar?

Sambar has originated in the South Indian province. All South Indian states have their own version of sambar.

Is Sambar good for health?

Sambar is a lentil-based stew, which is high in fiber, low in cholesterol and fat. This dal based curry is also high on vitamins and minerals; thanks to the vegetables used that supply a copious amount of iron, zinc, folate, and magnesium. In addition to the lentils and vegetables, sambar has some healthy spices such as turmeric, which has many health benefits too.

Lentil stew or spicy sambar

How to Make Instant Pot Sambar?

Ingredients of Instant pot Sambar :

2 cups cooked toor dal, 3-4 tbsp of sambar powder, 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder, 1-inch size dried tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup of warm water, 2 cups of mixed vegetables (zucchini, carrot, green beans and eggplant) 6-8 pearl onions (peeled and halved),2 large tomatoes chopped, 2 green chilies, 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp red chili powder, 2 cups of water, salt to taste

Tempering: 1 tsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds,2 dried red chilies, 1/2 tsp white Bengal gram dal, 2 strands of curry leaves,1/4 tsp asafoetida, cilantro to garnish

Instant pot South Indian Sambar

Method of Making Instant Pot Sambar:

  • Set the instant pot to a saute mode. When it is hot, add the cooking oil.
  • Now temper mustard seeds, chilies and after the seeds splutter, add asafoetida and curry leaves.
  • Save half of this tadka for later use. Now add onions and saute for a minute. (You don’t have to soften the onions)
  • Add chopped tomatoes and allow it to cook for a while. Once the tomatoes start to lose water and become mushy, add all spices followed by tamarind water.
Instant Pot Sambar
  • Give a good mix. Now add all the vegetables, water, salt and mix well. Lastly, add cooked toor dal and stir well.
  • Close the lid and set the pot to pressure cook and set the timer for 3-minutes. Since our dal is cooked, you don’t have to overcook the veggies.
  • If using raw and soaked dal, then set the timer for 9-minutes. (Remember for this step, the dal must be soaked for at least 2-hours)
  • After the beep, wait for the natural pressure release. Open the lid and carefully mix the sambar well. Adjust salt and spices if needed.
  • If you like a thin sambar, add 1-2 cups of hot water at this point. If you do so, don’t forget to bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Now add the rest of the tadka and mix well. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice. 
Hotel sambar in the instant pot
Instant pot sambar dish

Instant Pot Sambar

Spicy, tangy South Indian, Instant Pot Sambar with seasonal vegetables and a spicy curry leaf tempering – that's my idea of comfort food. This spicy lentil dish is the easiest and quickest instant pot sambar recipe that you will ever make.
5 from 12 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Hotel sambhar, Instant pot sambar, PIP Sambar, South Indian Sambhar, Vegetable Sambar
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Natural Pressure Release: 12 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 238kcal
Author: Sophie
Cost: $4

Equipment

  • Instant pot

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked toor dal
  • 3-4 tbsp of sambar powder
  • 1/2 tsp of turmeric powder
  • 1- inch size dried tamarind soaked in 1/2 cup of warm water
  • 2 cups of mixed vegetables zucchini, carrot, green beans and eggplant
  • 6-8 pearl onions peeled and halved
  • 2 large tomatoes chopped
  • 2 green chilies
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • 2 cups of water salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 1/2 tsp white Bengal gram dal
  • 2 strands of curry leaves
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida
  • cilantro to garnish

Instructions

  • Set the instant pot to a saute mode. When it is hot, add the cooking oil.
  • Now temper mustard seeds, chilies and after the seeds splutter, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Save half of this tadka for later use.
  • Now add onions and saute for a minute. (You don’t have to soften the onions)
  • Add chopped tomatoes and allow it to cook for a while. Once the tomatoes start to lose water and become mushy, add all spices followed by tamarind water.
  • Give a good mix. Now add all the vegetables, water, salt and mix well.
  • Lastly, add cooked toor dal and stir well.
  • Close the lid and set the pot to pressure cook and set the timer for 3-minutes. Since our dal is cooked, you don’t have to overcook the veggies. If using raw and soaked dal, then set the timer for 9-minutes. (Remember for this step, the dal must be soaked for at least 2-hours)
  • After the beep, wait for the natural pressure release. Open the lid and carefully mix the sambar well. Adjust salt and spices if needed. If you like a thin sambar, add 1-2 cups of hot water at this point. If you do so, don’t forget to bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Now add the rest of the tadka and mix well.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice.
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Notes

For the pot in pot method: 
  • Follow the steps till tomatoes become mushy. Then add raw, soaked toor daal and 2 cups of water. Add all spices and mix well.
  • Place a trivet on the dal. Now take all the veggies in a n a small pot and add tamarind water in it. Add 1/2 cup of extra water. Close the lid and place it on the trivet. For this method, I only take carrots, beans, sambar onions, drumstick and pumpkin. Since our dal will cook for 9-minutes on high pressure, I avoid taking vegetables that easily become mushy in pressure cooking. 
  • Once the cooking time and natural pressure release time is over, mix the dal with the cooked vegetables and bring the mixture to a boil. If needed, add salt and spices. Add rest of the tadka and serve. 
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Nutrition

Serving: 230g | Calories: 238kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 9g | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 2g
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Instant pot vegetable sambar spicy south indian lentil stew

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13 comments

Yasmin February 9, 2020 - 2:02 am

5 stars
This looks lovely. Would like to try it out. If I use the PIP method, would I need to soak 1 or 2 cups of raw toor dal?

Reply
Sophie February 9, 2020 - 1:44 pm

Soak one cup of daal for this recipe. A little less than a cup will also do. One cup of raw dal yields about 3-cups of cooked dal.

Reply
Chef Dennis February 11, 2020 - 2:50 am

5 stars
This Instant Pot Sambar looks really delicious and very comforting to eat. This will be perfect after a long and tiring day. Thank you for sharing!

Reply
Anna February 12, 2020 - 8:41 am

5 stars
This looks like such a warming and satisfying meal, perfect for any day of the week! So glad I’ve got myself an Instant Pot at January sale, can’t wait to try this next!

Reply
Tammy February 14, 2020 - 3:21 pm

5 stars
This sounds incredible..I love the combination of spices and flavors in this! It’s a perfect dish for winter 🙂

Reply
Elaine February 14, 2020 - 5:13 pm

5 stars
Fabulous sambar to try any time you crave something spicy or are excited to explore Indian cuisine a bit more. Delicious and timely – perfect for this weather!

Reply
Leslie February 15, 2020 - 9:32 am

This looks wonderful. I love to try new recipes in my instant pot! This will be a great one!

Reply
Loreto and Nicoletta Nardelli February 15, 2020 - 9:59 am

5 stars
I can just imagine how tasty this sambar lentil soup is! Never had it this way but loving it and going to try it soon!

Reply
Veronika February 15, 2020 - 7:20 pm

5 stars
Love making soups in Instant Pot! I think it’s the easiest way to make it. Never tried Sambar before, but it sounds tasty, will put it on my to so list.

Reply
Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer February 16, 2020 - 10:44 am

5 stars
What a beautiful dish! It just sounds so warm and inviting! I’ve never had a soup like this and can’t wait to try it!

Reply
Kathryn February 16, 2020 - 11:27 am

The flavors in this sound so good. I’m always looking for new Instant Pot recipes and this looks like a great one to add to my collection!

Reply
Tara February 16, 2020 - 1:42 pm

5 stars
The flavors of this dish make it worth making more often. When I do make Indiana food, I always try for spice and bold flavors.

Reply
Aline February 17, 2020 - 2:01 pm

5 stars
Oh wow!! I never heard of this dish before! Looks so comforting and delicious – I need to try it ASAP! Thanks for all the details.

Reply

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