Instant Pot Sambar is a lentil-based vegetable stew from South India made using Instant Pot. It takes less than an hour to cook and fits vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free lifestyle.
So I finally bought an Instant Pot! In case you are not familiar with it, it is an electric pressure cooker that provides a lot of functionality. Think rice cooker + slow cooker + pressure cooker + steamer + sauté pan combined into one. I love it so much that I have donated my all other appliances, so definitely check instant pot if you are considering to downsize to one just appliance. One of the first things I made in my instant pot is sambar, a lentil-based vegetable stew from South India. This simple instant pot sambar recipe comes from my friend Lavanya who spoils me with her delicious homemade dosa , pickles, and sambar. If you know South Indian food, you probably already know how delicious and nutritious sambar is. It is a staple dish that is enjoyed with dosa, idli, or plain white rice. I didn’t grow up eating sambar but I have always liked it’s spicy, tangy taste at restaurants. When Lavanya told me she makes it weekly at home, I just had to know how to get that ‘sambar’ taste that is different than your regular lentil-vegetable soup. Making sambar is a two step process, it requires few key ingredients and just one pot. Lentil is first cooked then mixed with vegetables later. The spice mix – sambar powder and tamarind are two essential ingredients that cannot be skipped while making sambar. I purchase both ingredients at the Indian grocery store and would be happy to share the brand/type if you are interested.
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I don’t think the internet needs more sambar recipe but the Instant Pot Sambar I am sharing shows how versatile, flexible, and forgiving this dish is. Traditionally, toor dal (split pigeon peas) is used for sambar but I have experimented with orange split lentils, French lentil, and green lentil and they all work great or you can do a combination if you’d like. You can use different vegetables of your liking or what you have on hand – fresh, frozen, canned all works. Make it thin or thick, just change the amount of water. To make it extra special, temper sambar right before serving as shown here.
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I am not claiming Instant Pot Sambar to be authentic or anything. It’s a simple, extremely flavorful vegetable lentil stew I find to be so delicious and wholesome I just had to share with you all. Also, you don’t have to have an instant pot to make this sambar. You can cook lentils and vegetables in a pressure cooker or stove top.
- 1 cup green lentils
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seed
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small knob of ginger, minced
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 2 potatoes, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- handful of spinach
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1-1.5 tablespoon sambar powder (may use more or less depending upon the spice level)
- 6 cups water
- 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
- salt, to taste
- Rinse lentils and add to the instant pot with 3 cups of water.
- Pressure cook on high for 15 minutes and let it sit for 5 minutes before removing lentils from the pot.
- Transfer lentils to a bowl and mush it.
- Change the setting to saute and add canola oil to the pot.
- Fry cumin seeds until fragrant.
- Add onion, garlic, and ginger to the pot and let it saute for 3 minutes.
- Add all the vegetable to the pot and sautee for 4-6 minutes.
- Add turmeric powder and sambar powder to vegetables and gently stir them together.
- Add 6 cups of water and tamarind concentrate.
- Change the setting to pressure cook - high for 10 minutes and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Open the instant pot and mix lentils with vegetables. Add salt and adjust seasoning as necessary.
- Change the setting to keep warm for few minutes and serve it hot.
If you make Instant Pot Sambar, I’d love to hear from you or tag @foodpleasurehealth