Eggplant Sambar Recipe – Indian Yellow Lentil Tamarind Dal. Toor Dal Sambar with Eggplant or other seasonal veggies. Instant Pot or Saucepan. Vegan Gluten-free Soy-free Nut-free Recipe.
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Sambar is a tangy tamarind based Dal with its own spice blend called Sambar powder (recipe in book 1). It has many versions based on the region and family recipes from states in Southern India. This flavorful soup has a different flavor profile from the usual North Indian Dals. Serve it over rice or cooked grains or as a soup. Toor dal (split pigeon peas) are usually the pulse of choice to make sambar.
With the many specific needs for Sambar ( ie, Toor Dal, tamarind, Sambar powder blend), it might feel not easily achievable, but it is a delicious soup to try. I have added the substitute spices for the sambar blend, and other more easily available lentils to use. To sub tamarind, just add some lemon or lime + a pinch of sugar for the sour. Try this amazing flavored regional Dal.
Tamarind makes things look brown but believe you me that sambar is amazingly tasty meal. It is sour, savory, mildly sweet, well spiced and great as a lentil soup or as a side with steamed rice cakes (Idli) or just rice. Both Instant Pot and saucepan instructions below.
More IP recipes
- Lentil Veggie Dhansak – Lentil Veggie Stew in IP. GF
- Kohlapuri Veggies – Veggies in sesame coconut sauce GF
- Mushroom Matar Masala GF
- Bombay Potato and Peas GF
- Aloo Palak Dal- Potato Spinach Lentils in IP. GF
Toor Dal (split pigeon pea) can be labelled as yellow lentils or yellow split peas. These split peas are slightly smaller and duller than yellow split peas and also cook a bit faster. See pics of the dals here. Get the non shiny version if you get them from the Indian store. You can also make this sambar with Moong dal or Red lentils or yellow split peas. Cooking time will vary with those lentils.
If you make this soup, do let me know in the comments how it turned out!
Eggplant Sambar Recipe - Indian Yellow Lentil Tamarind Dal
- 1 teaspoon safflower or other neutral oil
- 1/2 teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) black mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp ) fenugreek seeds , optional
- 2 dried red chilies , optional
- 10 curry leaves coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1/2 cup (60 g) chopped red onion or sliced pearl onions
- 1 tablespoon Sambhar Powder or use 2 tsp coriander powder + a good pinch of cumin cayenne, black pepper
- 2 medium tomatoes chopped (1 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon (0.5 teaspoon) ground turmeric
- 1 to 2 cup (85 g) chopped eggplant or use other veggies
- 1/2 cup (149 g) chopped green bell pepper or 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup (168 g) split pigeon peas toor dal, or split peas, washed and soaked for 15 minutes and drained
- 2.5 cups (600 ml) to 4 cups water more for saucepan
- 1 to 2 teaspoons tamarind paste concentrate or 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
- cilantro and lemon for garnish
- Heat the oil in the Instant Pot or Pressure cooker on saute (medium heat). When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds, and cook until they start to pop, about 10 seconds. Add the fenugreek seeds, red chiles, and curry leaves carefully, and cook for a few seconds. Add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes
- Add the sambhar powder, mix, and cook for half a minute. Add tomatoes, turmeric, and mix. Cook until the tomatoes are saucy, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the vegetables and mix in.
- Add the drained split peas, salt, tamarind and water. Mix, close the lid and cook for 10 to 15 minutes (longer for split peas). Let the pressure release naturally. Add more tamarind extract if needed. Taste and adjust salt and heat. Add a pinch of sugar to balance the tang if needed. Garnish with cilantro and lemon juice. Serve as a soup or over rice or with dosa crepes or steamed rice cakes(Idli).