Veg Curries/Gravies

Hotel style Sambhar

Sambar is a lentil based vegetable stew from Tamil Nadu. It is one of the most popular dishes in South India.Sambar is prepared at least once a week in every south indian household. I’m not a fan of home-made sambar and I grew up despising it. I love hotel sambar though (Don’t ask me”why?” 😀 ) I always used to pester my mother to make sambar the way they make in hotels. Speaking of hotel/restaurant sambar,sambar from  hotel saravana bhavan, popularly known as HSB is my favourite. I love it so much that i could literally drink cups of their sambar. No, am not exaggerating. Two years back, when i was serving my notice period at cognizant, i developed a habit of eating breakfast and lunch at HSB in the cafeteria.I spent most of my time relishing their sambar vadas and mini idlis floating in a pool of drool worthy sambar. Even today, thinking of it makes my mouth instantly water.

I have been hunting for HSB sambar recipe for quite a long time. I went through many recipes and ended up creating my own recipe by combining 3 different recipes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to achieve the taste of HSB sambar. So i cant draw a parallel. Nevertheless, it was great and  was relished by everyone at home.


Required Ingredients:

Sambar Powder:

  • Coriander seeds/dhaniya-4 tbsp
  • Chana dal-2 tbsp
  • Toor dal-2 tbsp
  • Dry red chilli-12
  • Fenugreek seeds-1 tsp
  • Asafoetida- 2 tsp

To grind:

  • Grated coconut-1 tbsp
  • Roasted gram dal-1 tbsp
  • Chopped tomato-1
  • Sambar powder-1 tbsp

To saute and temper:

  • Small onion/shallots-5 to 6
  • Curry leaves-10 to 12
  • Tomato- 1
  • Mustard seeds-1 tsp
  • Urad dal-1 tsp
  • Cumin-1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds-1/4 tsp
  • Asafoetida-1 tsp

Other ingredients:

  • Drumstick-2
  • Tamarind- goose berry size
  • Jaggery/sugar- 1 tsp
  • Turmeric powder-1 tsp
  • Oil- As required
  • Salt-As required
  • Toor dal-1/2 cup


Dry roast the ingredients under “sambar powder” section and grind into a fine powder.


Grind the ingredients under “to grind”section with little water and set aside.



Pressure cook toor dal with 2 cups of water and mash nicely.


Boil chopped drumsticks in water until done.

Soak tamarind in about a cup of water for 20 minutes. Squeeze the tamarind to extract juice and filter.

In a kadai /wok, add tamarind water, boiled drumsticks and let it boil for 5 minutes.


Now, add mashed dal and turmeric powder and mix well. Let it boil for 5-7 minutes.

Add ground paste, salt and mix well. Let it boil.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a separate pan and add all the ingredients under “to saute and temper”. Saute until the shallots become translucent and tomatoes shrink.


Add it to the boiling sambar, mix well. Let it boil for 2-3 minutes.


Serve hot with rice, idli/dosa.



  • You can add any vegetable of your choice. You can either pressure cook the vegetables along with dal or cook separately and add later.
  • You can add chopped coriander as garnish.


6 thoughts on “Hotel style Sambhar

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