How to Make Quick Sambar

Three Parts:Preparing the Dal and Tamarind MixtureSautéingFinishing Up

Molagakilli Sambar is an authentic dish of South India. While traditional Sambar can take around half an hour to make, you can whip up a quick version of Sambar in 15 minutes. It goes well with steamed rice, and is delicious and nutritious too.


For the Dal and Tamarind Mixture

  • Tamarind - Size of a small gooseberry
  • Toor Dal - 50g
  • Cooking oil - 2 to 3 drops
  • Water

For Sautéing

  • Cooking oil - 2 to 3 Tbsp
  • Mustard - 1 Tsp
  • Onion - 1 thinly sliced
  • Tomato - 1 roughly chopped
  • Round Red Chili - 4 to 5 (as per taste)
  • Curry Leaves

For Finishing Up

  • Sambar Powder - 2 teaspoons
  • Water - 2 cups
  • Salt
  • Coriander leaves

Part 1
Preparing the Dal and Tamarind Mixture

  1. 1
    Soak Tamarind, the size of a small gooseberry, in a cup of water. Ideally, use warm water to quicken the soaking process.
  2. 2
    Boil toor dal with water and cooking oil in a pressure cooker. Allow to cook for 5 to 6 whistles. The dal should be in a mashed state once cooked. If you find any partially mashed dal, mash it manually with a round spoon.
  3. 3
    Squeeze tamarind juice out of the soaked tamarind. Add it to the mashed dal. Be careful not to burn your hands because the dal is still hot!

Part 2

  1. 1
    Heat pan and pour in some oil. Set flame to medium.
  2. 2
    Once oil is heated, add mustard. Let all the mustard crack.
  3. 3
    Pinch off the stem and sauté the red chili in hot oil. (In Tamil, molaga means 'red chili' and killi means 'pinch'. Hence the name molagakilli sambar! )
  4. 4
    Added thinly sliced onion and sauté well until it develops a very mild golden color.
  5. 5
    Add roughly chopped tomato and let it cook completely.
  6. 6
    Add full curry leaves (don't chop them!) and let it cook. You are done with this part when you can smell the aroma of curry leaves.

Part 3
Finishing Up

  1. 1
    Add the dal and tamarind mixture to the sautée pan.
  2. 2
    Add 2 teaspoons of sambar powder.
  3. 3
    Add 2 cups of water and salt to taste.
  4. 4
    Allow it come to boil. The dal should come to frothy boil by this time. Turn the flame off as soon as you see the bubbles or froth.
  5. 5
    Add fresh chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot along with steamed rice!


  • Once you get used to the process, try to work on the first two parts simultaneously. For example, you can can let tamarind to soak and also prepare the saute, while the dal cooks.
  • It also helps to chop onion and tomato beforehand, if you are new to cooking.

Article Info

Categories: Recipes | World Cuisines