Varutharacha Sambar ~ Malabar Style Mixed Vegetable Lentil Stew



I would really call sambar as the ultimate comfort food of a South Indian. Why not? We would have sambar with everything. Recently, I discovered that sambar went amazingly well with porottas too! If you are wondering what a “sambar” is, it is a South Indian stew made with lentils, mixed vegetables and lots of spices.


I had mentioned in this post that I am not fond of store bought sambar powders. Each brand tastes different and somehow I don’t seem to like any. I prefer to make my own little batch each time I make my sambar. When I discovered that we had our own version of making sambaar using roasted coconut paste, my joy had no bounds. Umma was never aware of a version like this, so I never grew up with one. I have adapted this recipe from many sources so can’t pinpoint just one. This is now one of my go-to sambaars whenever we make rice or idlis at home. It is just amazing, so flavorful and has a wonderful aroma.


You can use any vegetables you like, use a single vegetable, or use all that you have leftovers in your pantry. For my little family, a box of precut sambar vegetables off the supermarket aisle serves best. I have tried everything – there are times when I have picked up one of each vegetable to make sambaar. Hehe… 😀 The problem is that way, I end up having a huge pot that doesn’t get over even in three days. That’s why I decided to go this way. Try it out and hopefully you will keep making it again and again. 🙂


Linking this post to the event MLLA #103 happening on the blog till month end, conceptualized by Susan and hosted by Lisa… Do participate by linking your lentil and legume recipes posted this month if possible! 🙂





Varutharacha Sambar ~ Malabar Style Mixed Vegetable Lentil Stew

Course Curry
Cuisine Malabar
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 -6
Author Rafeeda


  • 1/2 cup toor dal pigeon lentils
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 green chillies slit
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp asafoetida hing
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • 3-4 shallots chopped
  • 3/4 cup coconut
  • 500 gm sambar vegetables okra, tindora, pumpkin, potato, ladyfinger, drumstick, carrot
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 to mato chopped
  • 1 lime sized tamarind soaked in 1 cup hot water
  • A pinch asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 5-6 dried round red chillies


  • Combine all ingredients under "for dal" in a pressure cooker and cook for one whistle on meduim flame. Switch off and allow the pressure to go.
  • In another pan, add the vegetables, onion and tomato with a cup of water and salt and cook on low flame till vegetables are 80% done.
  • Squeeze out the water off the tamarind and discard the remains. Set aside.
  • For making the roasted coconut paste, in a frying pan, heat oil. Fry the fenugreek and coriander seeds briefly.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and fry till the coconut becomes crisp and golden brown.
  • Allow to cool and then powder it smooth. Add a little water and make it paste like. Set aside.
  • Once the vegetables are almost done, add in the cooked dal, the ground paste, tamarind water and asafoetida.
  • Cook on simmer for 10 minutes or till vegetables are completely cooked. Adjust salt and switch off.
  • For tempering, In a small saucepan, heat oil, splutter the mustard seeds.
  • Briefly fry the curry leaves and red chillies before adding to the sambar.
  • Allow it to stay on closed lid for around 10 minutes for flavors to intermingle.

Join the Conversation

  1. a very popular dish! Well mallus stole it from us! 😛 we call this Archuvitta sambar but with a few additions in the paste ingredients. Whatever, any form, sambar is definitely a comfort food! We use store bought Shakthi podi – which works best for us. But this time I didn’t bring and my neighbour gave a bottle of home ground powder. She said her mom did it as it requires to dry in the sun before grinding…..

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Haha… I won’t say that sambaar is not totally ours but the varutharacha part with the coconut is definitely ours… 😛 Thank you so much Fami… making sambar with fresh roasted spices is always the best…

  2. Such a flavourful recipe. Just one tip. When it comes to a final boil add 1 tsp of sugar or jaggery. It will help and lock all that last minute flavours. And a Jai! for Sambhar. Its a winner always with any spice measurement. Proud to be a South Indian. Hi five.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Sowmya for that tip, will definitely try that sometime…

  3. Veggies and lentils are definitely my favorites. This looks very tasty.

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thanks a lot Angie…

  4. Always a favorite in every South Indian home! This sambar does look so flavorful and I’m sure all those ingredients make it very aromatic!

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Beulah…

  5. Sambar with freshly ground coconut and spices always tastes so much better than with the ones with sambar powder. You are right, sambar goes well with anything! Delicious sambar..

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thank you so much Sona…

  6. love this flavourful bucket of sambar 🙂

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thanks a lot Amrita… 🙂

  7. love that cute bucket..sambar looks so tempting

    1. Rafeeda AR Author says:

      Thanks a lot Gloria…

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