In Kerala in southern India, this classic stew is eaten at just about every meal. It's typically enjoyed for breakfast with idli (steamed rice cakes) or dosa (rice crêpes). For lunch and dinner, it's eaten with steamed rice and fish curry or braised beef dishes. Sambar powder is a mixture that includes coriander, fenugreek, cumin, black peppercorns, red chiles and asafetida. Find it at Indian markets or online.

EatingWell Magazine, March 2021


Credit: Eva Kolenko

Recipe Summary

35 mins
1 hr


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon ghee and cumin seeds. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add turmeric and onion and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add 3 cups water, split peas (or lentils) and 1 teaspoon salt; stir. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until the split peas (or lentils) are soft but still hold their shape, 20 to 25 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon ghee, then add tomatoes, potatoes, turnip, eggplant, okra and sambar powder. Stir in tamarind paste; mix well. Add the remaining 1 cup water and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost all the liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes (the vegetables don't have to be cooked through).

  • Add the vegetable mixture to the pot. Cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

  • Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee, mustard seeds and chiles. Cook until the mustard seeds start to pop, 30 to 60 seconds. Pour the mixture into the sambar. Stir in cilantro.

Nutrition Facts

about 1 cup
190 calories; fat 8g; cholesterol 20mg; sodium 433mg; carbohydrates 25g; dietary fiber 8g; protein 6g; sugars 5g; saturated fat 5g; vitamin a iu 693IU.