Sambar in instant pot without tamarind, is a traditional curry made with a mix of lentils, vegetables and spices. It is made in South Indian homes to go with rice based breakfasts or lunch or supper with rice. I have perfected this recipe to suit my taste. This lighter version works perfectly every time I want a superb fast curry provided I have all the ingredients!
Why should I try this recipe?
- This recipe works for all level of expertise in cooking, with regular pressure cooker or most electric cookers. Bachelor cooking, dorm cooking, hotel cooking etc, if you live abroad or don't have a full-fledged kitchen then this recipe is for you. Be sure to cook near a window and turn on the kitchen exhaust and light a candle too as the spice smells are pretty strong.
Will this sambar in instant pot recipe work with frozen vegetables ?
- Yes. Works with most frozen veggies. Instead of buying sambar mixed vegetables frozen packet I buy fresh vegetables and freeze a portion to use when required. Vegetables like pumpkin, ash gourd and drumsticks cluster beans all freeze well. Some are not available year round and this way I will have vegetable stock whenever I would like to make sambar. Vegetables can last for up to 4 months if packed and frozen properly.
What adds flavor to sambar?
- Sambar draws its flavors from 4 important steps.
- The dals or lentils : Here a mix of toor dal and channa dal adds flavor and thickness.
- Spices : Spices used in different combination gives different aroma and flavor. Added in stages.
- Vegetables : Each vegetable has its own distinct taste and adds to the thickness, sweetness and tartness of the curry.
- Seasoning : Believe it or not all the flavors of sambar depends on the end seasoning even if those go in, most of it cooks and evaporates with heat . So remember to add the seasoning like asafoetida and fenugreek powdered towards the end, it aroma stays longer.
Yes sambar is vegan and gluten free flavorful curry.
Unless sambar powder is homemade the amount of spice varies in each store bought brand. Hence adjusting and compensating with other spices enhances the flavor of sambar.
Sambar is a flavor game. Every ingredient should be added in right proportion.If too many spices are added in heaps this can quickly taste bitter especially fenugreek. Tamarind can turn the sambar too sour. Adding too much dal or water too can alter the flavors of the curry.
Adding too much dal or water and under spiced curry can make it taste bland. It can be saved by heating 2-3 tsps of sesame oil or ghee then lower the heat now add a tsp of sambar powder, asafetida powder few chopped coriander leaves with stem and a pinch of salt when the aroma comes add it to the sambar.
While cooking - If you discover its spicy while cooking dry roast a table spoon or two of coconut to light brown color a separate pan then grind to paste with water and add towards the end of cooking simmer for a few minutes and remove else it will spilt.
After cooking - Boil a little water say 1/2 glass if you have leftover cooked dal add a tablespoon or two of it allow this mixture to come to a boil then add it to the curry after it cools down slightly. Roasted cashew nut and boiled water ground to finest paste, a cooked potato, or other sambar veggies cook separately and add to sambar. Add few tsps of coconut milk if everything else fails.
Ingredients list for sambar in Instant pot without tamarind :
Tasty Sambar secrets: DOS AND DON'TS
I have perfected this recipe over the years and found the sweet spot where flavor meets lighter version.
-------Dals and veggies-------
- Dal : Instead of using just toor dal for making sambar use a 2:1 proportion toor dal and channa dal Channa dal adds a nutty and creamy taste. (It is heavier on the stomach so reduce in quantity). Adding few pieces of pumpkin reduces the dependency on dal for thickness. Pumpkin makes the sambar thick without the heaviness after consuming. Though adding too many pumpkin pieces will simply make the curry too sweet, the texture will turn too thick gloppy.
- Vegetables used : Pumpkin adds slight sweetness and thickness. Adding cluster beans to sambar elevates the flavor. Sautéing eggplant in oil is another important step here. All the rest are regular vegetables used in making sambar.
- Sautéing the veggies in the spices gives it a chance to absorb flavors than added directly to the curry. Try it to believe it.
- Use carrot instead if pumpkin is not available.
- Spices : Sambar does not contain garam masala flavor but more of coriander, fenugreek, cumin asafoetida etc. Fenugreek has a cooling effect, thickens the curry and adds a distinct flavor to the sambar. Asafoetida and cumin does the same and aids in digestion.
- Sambar powder : Making your own is the best option but best store bought option is Eastern brand (not sponsored ) or Nirapara brand. Look for their regular sambar powder not Brahmin sambar for authentic flavors. Homemade sambar powder recipe
- I will not recommend MTR or Everest brand sambar powder if you are looking for authentic Kerala flavors.
- Tanginess : Usually sambar gets it tanginess from tamarind but it is totally ok to skip it and go with tomato. Tamarind has a sharp sourness that can induce acid reflux in people prone to it. Tomato has a more fruity taste and lighter tartness depending on the variety used. I highly recommend buying a small tin of tomato paste and freezing the rest in cubes to use later.
- Seasoning : Seasoning in stages is very important :The final seasoning of the curry is what gives sambar all the flavor and aroma lost in the process of cooking. Adding a small pinch of asafetida, little chopped coriander leaves, few curry leaves squished with your fingers and finally dry roasted fenugreek powdered. Close the lid and allow the curry to sit for a few minutes before serving enhance the flavors of sambar and takes it to the next level. Stir just once only before serving.
- Never add cold water into the curry. It will bring down the temperature of the veggies suddenly and it will absorb the water and wash off the spice flavor in it. Instead add boiling hot water to the curry.
Steps pictures of making sambar in Instant pot :
Make sambar in any size instant pot. But do not fill more than 1/2 -2/3 of the inner pot because it will start spewing and become a mess. Use an instant pot and a wide pan to cook than doing entire cooking in instant pot because when you work simultaneously the cooking gets over faster. You have much more control on the temperature on stove top as the spices can burn fast.
Refrigerating Sambar :
You cannot beat the aroma and taste of freshly made warm sambar on rice. But if absolutely have to make in advance and refrigerate. I would suggestion make two or three portions and heat only the portion what is required. Lasts max 4 days if refrigerated well.
Note : If you keep the sambar in the pan/ pot prepared in room temperature for long, mixed with ladle a lot etc as it sits starts to spoil fast especially in hot climate and cause tummy upset.
Other sambar variety ideas :
Other traditional curries popular on the blog :
Sambar in instant pot without Tamarind
- 1 Instant pot / Pressure cooker
- 1 Pan
To pressure cook :
- 2 tbsp Toor dal
- 1 tbsp Channa dal
- 1 pinch Turmeric powder
- 1/2 Green chili
- 1 tsp Coriander powder
- 1 tsp Paprika powder Use chili powder as per tolerance
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 heaped tsp Sambar powder
- 1/2 tsp Asafoetida
- 1/2 tsp Fenugreek powder
- 5 pieces Pumpkin cut into cubes
- 5-6 pieces Drumstick 2 inch long pieces
- 1/2 of 1 Eggplant cut into large cubes
- Ash gourd cut into cubes
- Cluster beans each cut into 3
- 1 Tomato
Other ingredients :
- 2-3 tsp Sesame oil
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 2 Whole red chili
- 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
- 4 Small onion cut into 4
- 2 sprigs Curry leaves
- few sprigs Coriander leaves chopped roughly
- 3/4 tsp Tomato paste
- Pressure cook both the dals together adding turmeric, 1/2 green chili and the pumpkin pieces adding 1/2 cup water in Instant pot for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes of Natural pressure release open, stir and mash everything except the green chili.
- Heat sesame oil in a pan add mustard seeds when it splutters add cumin seeds fenugreek seeds then add the small onion cut into 4 give it a few minutes to give a nice aroma then add the eggplant toss for a few minutes then add paprika, turmeric, coriander and salt. saute on low heat for a few minutes then add in other vegetables like cluster beans, drumstick, ash gourd tomato.
- Saute the veggies for a few minutes add into the cooked dal. Add 1 cup water to the pan itself allow it to boil then add along with veggies add tomato paste a hint of asafetida, coriander leaves stir well . Pressure cook for 5 minutes. (Or less as per your preference of veggie softness) this is pretty soft.
- Natural pressure release for 5 minutes then open and stir gently. Add the rest of coriander leaves, curry leaves and fenugreek powder and a hint of asafetida powder on top. Close and keep aside for few minutes. Allow the flavors to mingle. Stir once gently before serving
- Serve warm sambar along with rice , idly or dosa.CONSISTENCY : Slightly thick yet easily portable consistency.
Do give this sambar in instant pot without tamarind recipe a try and let me know.