Lightly spiced lentils in a tamarind and coconut sauce, tempered with Indian spices. Serve hot with rice. Try it with other vegetables too, such as potato, cauliflower or okra. The ingredients should be available at any Indian market or at specialty stores. The tamarind pulp may be substituted with reconstituted tamarind paste.

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Recipe Summary

prep:
30 mins
cook:
15 mins
total:
45 mins
Servings:
4
Yield:
4 servings
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Ingredients

4
Original recipe yields 4 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Place yellow split peas in a saucepan with 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. In another saucepan, mix together the tamarind pulp stir in 1/2 cup water to make a watery juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and tomato to the tamarind juice, and continue to boil until the vegetables are soft, and the liquid has reduced to almost half.

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  • Meanwhile, grind the coriander seeds, yellow lentils, coconut and chilies to a paste using a mortar and pestle or food processor. Add this paste to the tamarind sauce, then stir in the yellow lentils until everything is well blended. Bring to a boil once again, then remove from the heat and set aside.

  • Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat, and add the mustard seed, cumin seed, and asafoetida powder. Once the mustard seeds start to sputter and the mixture is fragrant, remove from heat and stir into sambar. Serve hot.

Nutrition Facts

306 calories; protein 15.4g; carbohydrates 55.9g; fat 3.9g; sodium 10.1mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (8)

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Most helpful positive review

Rating: 4 stars
10/27/2005
I suggest adding 4 large tomatoes instead of 1 and halving the tamarind. If you don't mind the extra calories, a cup of coconut milk adds a delicious richness (don't use regular milk!). If using potatoes, prick them raw, dice into bite size pieces and cook them in the tamarind (or tomato) juice. Okra is GREAT in this recipe. Read More
(27)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 3 stars
05/10/2011
1/2 cup tamarind is too much must be a typo. Cut the tamarind at least in half depending on taste. other than that good. Read More
(7)
13 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 4
  • 4 star values: 5
  • 3 star values: 2
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 4 stars
10/26/2005
I suggest adding 4 large tomatoes instead of 1 and halving the tamarind. If you don't mind the extra calories, a cup of coconut milk adds a delicious richness (don't use regular milk!). If using potatoes, prick them raw, dice into bite size pieces and cook them in the tamarind (or tomato) juice. Okra is GREAT in this recipe. Read More
(27)
Rating: 4 stars
03/28/2004
Better pre-soak the peas. They'll never get soft in just 15 minutes cooking (w/o pressure). Seasoning is a good combination. Read More
(20)
Rating: 3 stars
05/10/2011
1/2 cup tamarind is too much must be a typo. Cut the tamarind at least in half depending on taste. other than that good. Read More
(7)
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Rating: 5 stars
02/05/2006
Very nice Read More
(5)
Rating: 1 stars
01/13/2016
I did not make this yet but am wondering.... why is the photo that accompanies this dish actually a shot of what appears to be banana or zucchini bread not the biryani. I suggest you change the photo so that people won't pass by the recipe simply because they are not trying to make bread. Read More
Rating: 3 stars
02/10/2017
I'm getting ready to make this -- I bought tamarind concentrate - how much should I use for this recipe? Thank you. Read More
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Rating: 5 stars
12/04/2018
It was great I was cooking for someone with a coconut allergy so I had to leave out the coconut and the yellow split peas took a lot longer to cook with a lot more water but it came out tasting very good. Read More
Rating: 2 stars
01/21/2019
Very disappointed in this. I have had sambar many times over the years at various Indian restaurants and this recipe was way off the mark. The tamarind was too strong and gave the dish a strong tangy flavor that was disagreeable. And the yellow lentils while edible were way too firm---and I even soaked them for a couple of hours first and also cooked them 3X as long as the recipe called for. I could see maybe using an immersion blender on the lentils to puree them after they've been cooked. And in my experience sambar is supposed to have slices of carrot which this recipe did not have. I now have a pot of soup that I am not at all enthusiastic about finishing eating and will probably toss out. Read More
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