Sambhar with Carrot and Zucchini

Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 1 hour


By Stephanie Roston, R.D.


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 medium (about 2 cups) yellow onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp brown mustard seed
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 tsp ground mace
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 3-4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup toovar dal (can substitute red lentils, yellow split peas, or chana dal)
  • 8 cups water
  • 2-3 carrots, medium dice
  • 2-3 small zucchini, medium dice
  • 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate (or 1/4 block of tamarind pulp which has been soaked in hot water and strained)
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • 1-2 tsp (if needed) sugar


Heat a medium to large heavy bottomed pot on high. When pot is preheated, add 1 tablespoon water, onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute adding small amounts of water as needed. When onions start to soften and become lightly caramelized, add spices from curry powder through black pepper. Stir continuously for 3-5 minutes allowing spices to toast to maximize flavor. Next, add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Add dal and water then cover pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the dal is tender (time will vary depending on the type of dal used). Next, add the carrots and continue to simmer for 10 minutes or until carrots are almost tender. Add zucchini and season with tamarind and asafoetida. Cook until the zucchini is done which takes only 5-10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed by adding a squeeze of lime juice, a little sugar, or more tamarind. Enjoy sambhar on its own or serve with uppma, idli, uttapam, dosa, or rice. To store leftovers, cool to room temperature then cover and refrigerate. Sambhar will keep refrigerated for up to 3-4 days.