The 5 minutes Sambar

Being a south Indian, sambar is our staple curry. I can make a pot of sambar , serve with rice for lunch and then serve with idlis or dosas for dinner, or serve with vadas for appetizers ,or as lentil soup, it is truly multi-purpose. Made with lentils and vegetables , it ranks high on nutritional value too. To make sambar in traditional way is not at all complicated, cook your lentils, cook your vegetables, add tamarind and sambar powder, add your favorite seasoning, temper with some ghee…..and that is all there is to it. But the lentils do take some time to cook, so it is not something you can make when you are trying to fix a meal in 10 minutes.

This quick sambar recipe replaces dal (lentils) with powdered split chickpeas (pottukadalai / roasted gram). Pottukadalai (fried gram) is the split and roasted chickpeas. Roasting is not done with oil, but done by applying high pressure (similar to how puffed rice is made). It is the most easily digestible form of chickpeas, porridge made out of this form of chick peas is a popular baby food. I encourage my kids to eat this roasted gram as such, a good source of protein yet mild on their stomachs.


Ok, now to make this quick sambar, you will need :

  1. Pearl Onions – 7 or 8 (quartered)
  2. Tomatoes – 1 large or 2 medium
  3. Green chilli – 1 (slit)
  4. Cilantro – a good bunch
  5. Curry leaves – few
  6. Pottukadalai (Roasted gram) – 1 tbsp
  7. Tamarind water – 2 tbsp (diluted)
  8. Turmeric – 1 tsp
  9. Sambar powder – 2 to 3 tsp
  10. Salt to taste
  11. Vellam / Jaggery / Brown sugar – 1 tsp
  12. Mustard seeds, urad dal and ghee – 1/2 tsp each (to temper)


  • Powder the roasted gram, this will only take a few seconds and it becomes a fine powder very quickly.


  • Now dilute this 1 tbsp of powder with about half a cup of water.


  • In a pot, heat a spoon of oil and saute the onions, tomatoes, green chillies, curry leaves and cilantro.


  • When the onions and tomatoes soften add the tamarind water, turmeric, sambar powder, brown sugar and salt. Tamarind is optional, you can just add more tomatoes instead. Also if you don’t have sambar powder , use chilli powder and coriander powder.


  • Add about half a cup of water and bring the curry to boil, and then mix in the diluted gram powder solution.


  • You will see the sambar thickening within seconds. Bring the sambar to a good boil. Check for seasoning, add salt if needed.


  • In a separate pan, heat 1/2 tsp of ghee and fry the mustard seed and urad dal and add it to the sambar.


  • Remove from heat and serve. The neat thing is you can make this sambar while your idlis are steaming .  You might have already tasted this sambar, because it is a popular restaurant trick 🙂 (why wouldn’t they ? it is both cost effective and time effective). I still make my sambar the traditional way with dal (lentils), but this quick sambar recipe is good to have in your arsenal for one of those crazy busy days !


P.S. – While you can use besan (garbanzo flour) instead of the roasted gram powder, I prefer the latter.

7 thoughts on “The 5 minutes Sambar

  1. Wow, I had no idea roasted gram was so beneficial and can be used to make sambhar! This neat trick would do wonders to my hectic schedule. Thanks a lot for the recipe.
    Pst: Ive never come across a short cut for making sambhar and that too retaining its nutritional content. your recipe is a first. A big thumbs up for that.

    • Oh..thank you so much for the thumbs up 🙂 This is definitely a quick recipe, but nutritionally, you can replace half a cup of dal with just 1 tbsp of roasted gram powder ( due to its thickening nature), so it reduces the protein in the dish. However, there are so many other things you can make with roasted gram flour, like, you can make ladoos (just like besan ladoos) or chikkis, add in coconut chutneys. This powder is a good thickening agent too for curries and stews. I like it mostly for its mildness when compared to besan. I have an instant vada recipe using roasted gram, will post it soon 🙂

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