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Hotel Style Sambar | Easy tasty sambar

Hotel style Sambar is an easy, tasty and quick side dish for idli, vada, dosa or rice. This is just like the one served at Tiffin Centres and restaurants.

Sambar is a lentil-based vegetable stew, cooked with red gram and tamarind broth. It is a dish of great prominence in the South Indian cuisine.

It is one of the most commonly cooked dishes in the South Indian household, which has managed to make a place in the hearts of people around the world. Personally, sambar is one of my most favorite dishes. My mother used to cook sambar mostly when she made idlis, but I would include sambar in the three meals of the day. In the morning, when it is freshly made and piping hot, I would add a few drops of ghee to it and have it with idly (this one you should definitely try, as the ghee gives the already tasty sambar a unique flavor).

In the afternoon, I would have it with steaming hot rice and pappadam. As it is made primarily from red gram and tamarind juice, it stays fresh and tasty even till night and we can have it with rice or idly at night.

There are several other serving suggestions like you can have it with dosa, vada, idiyappam or you can even sip it from a bowl (like a soup). The last suggestion seemed a bit confusing right…but it is a common habit in South India and my favorite serving suggestion too.

There are many variants based on different regions like the Tamil sambar, Udupi sambar, chaaru, etc. Here I am going to describe the procedure for the plain hotel style sambar.

Sambar without vegetables

After many trials and errors I finally ended up with a super delicious Hotel style sambar recipe especially for idli and dosa.

A delicious sambar can do wonders to breakfast.

Jaggery is the secret ingredient here which makes this sambar just like the one you get in breakfast hotels in India and i am sure you will relish and enjoy the subtle sweetness of jaggery
in sambar.

This hotel style sambar has a hint of sweet taste with a bit of spiciness. Goes well with idli dosa pongal.

The recipe is very easy and simple to make with few basic ingredients.

Here are the key ingredients required –

Lentil (dal): Lentils form the base. Usually it’s made with toor dal (split pigeon peas lentil) but can also be made by mixing moong and toor dal or masoor (red lentils) and toor dal.

You can cook the dal either in a stove top pressure cooker or Instant Pot.

Sambar powder: the taste of the sambar depends heavily on the sambar powder which is a spice mix made by grinding several spices. Use your favorite brand of sambar powder or make one at home.

Tamarind & Jaggery: these ingredients add the little tartness & sweetness to the sambar respectively.

Other Ingredients – Other than the above ingredients, you will need turmeric powder, chili powder, salt, curry leaves, dry red chilies, oil, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, green chilies, onion, and tomato.

Use fresh curry leaves, as they are very aromatic and deliver a nice flavor in the Sambar.

The consistency can be adjusted to preference. This particular sambar should be on the thinner side.

Every household has its own recipe for making this scrumptious lentil stew.

Let’s see how to make sambar now

Hotel Style Sambar| Easy tasty sambar for idli and dosa

Recipe by Syed AsmaCourse: Main CourseCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time


Total time



South Indian lentil stew made with onion, tomato and spices!!!
This flavorful, tasty sambar goes well with Idli, Vada, Dosa and Rice.


  • Ingredients to be pressure cooked
  • Toor Dal (split yellow pigeon peas) – 1/4 cup

  • Turmeric – 1/8 tsp

  • Salt to taste

  • Water – 1 cup

  • Ingredients for Sambar
  • Oil – 2 tbsp

  • Fenugreek seeds – 1/8 tsp

  • Cumin seeds – 1/4 tsp

  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

  • Curry leaves – few

  • Red chilies – 2

  • Onion – 1 medium sized (diced)

  • Tomato – 2 medium sized (diced)

  • Salt to taste

  • Green chilies – 2

  • Chili powder – 1/2 tsp

  • Turmeric – 1/8 tsp

  • Tamarind juice (soak gooseberry sized ball of tamarind) – 2 tbsp (adjust according to taste)

  • Water – 3 cups

  • Sambar Powder – 3 tbsp

  • Jaggery – a small 1 inch piece or 1 tsp

  • Coriander – a few sprigs (chopped)


  • Pressure cook dal
  • Rinse 1/4 cup toor dal, changing water several times until water runs clear.
  • Put rinsed dal into a pressure cooker and add 1 cup water, 1/8 tsp turmeric and salt to taste.
  • Pressure cook the dal for 4-5 whistles or until dal is soft.
  • Once the pressure settles down, open the cooker. Mash the dal and keep aside. (Use a hand blender or traditional way to mash dal).
  • Let’s make Sambar
  • Now, in a heavy bottom kadai (or keep the cooked mashed dal aside and use the same pressure cooker.) add 2 tbsp oil.
  • Once the oil is hot, add 1/8 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1/4 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp mustard seeds.
  • Once they splutter add a few curry leaves and 2 red chilies.
  • Now add diced onion and cook until the onion softens.
  • Then add diced tomato, salt to taste and cook until tomato completely melts and sort of disappears.( Meaning no firm pieces of tomato should be there).
  • Add 1/8 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 2 green chilies and cook for another 5 minutes on medium flame. Stir it at regular intervals.
  • Now add pressure cooked dal, 2 tbsp tamarind juice(or as per taste), and mix well.
  • Add 3 cups of water.
  • Now add 3 tbsp of Sambar powder and stir well. Cover and let it cook on medium flame for 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes open the lid and adjust the taste. ( If needed, adjust salt and tamarind juice etc).
  • Now add a small 1 inch piece or a tsp of jaggery(or as per taste) and mix well.
  • Add chopped coriander leaves and let it cook for another 3 minutes on medium flame.
  • The Sambar is ready. Serve the sambar hot with idli, vada, dosa or rice.


  • The sambar should not be too thick, so do not overcook it at the end.
  • You can mix sambar powder with a little bit of water and then add it.
  • The sourness and sweetness of tamarind and jaggery depend upon a lot of factors so always adjust them to taste.
  • Throughout the cooking process, keep the flame on medium.

It is simple, healthy, nutritious, comforting and loaded with the goodness of tuvar dal. It is rich in protein. When served with rice or idli makes up for a complete meal.

I have made this many times to perfect it. If you make it and love it, please rate it.

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