Sambar with Bell Peppers

Sambar with Bell Peppers

Sambar, pronounced “Saambaar”, is an amazing Indian Stew, a Vegetarian Gravy. It is delicious to taste, colorful in appearance, healthy in quality, also aromatic and flavorful. Onions are the popular vegetables for Sambar. I like to use Bell Peppers (capsicum) quite often as an easy alternative and it adds its own unique flavor.

Sambar can be prepared with a variety of vegetables, single or all combined. For example, I have included here pictures of Sambar that I prepared with White Gourd, which is sometimes called Ash Gourd. They are the last two pictures of the slide show. However, only some vegetables are suitable to be used with this dish.

Sambar can be made simply with ready-made Sambar powder, or with a spicy mixture specially prepared. It is quite versatile and so can be used as a main dish mixed with rice, or as a side dish with Dosa’s Idli’s and even Roti’s, Naan’s and Chapati’s. Sambar as well as Rasam are the two staple sauces to go with Rice in South India. By itself this is a vegetable stew or vegetarian gravy, but when you use it with rice, it becomes a main dish.

Hover over the highlighted Keywords below for Images and/or Description of some of the Ingredients: 
Asafoetida, Cayenne Pepper, Cilantro, Curry Leaves, Mustard Seeds, Red Chilli, Serrano Pepper, Toor Dahl, ~Rice, ~Tamarind, Turmeric, Urad Dahl

Sambar with Bell PeppersSambar with White GourdSambar with White Gourd

Sambar with Bell Peppers

Serves 4
Prep time 5 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dish
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Region Indian


  • 1 cup Toor Dahl (See Recipes to cook Toor Dahl below.)
  • 1 - 2 Bell Peppers (Cut into 1 inch square pieces)
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
  • 2 - 4 teaspoons Tamarind Paste
  • 2 - 4 teaspoons Sambar Powder (Available in Indian Grocery Stores)
  • 1 teaspoon Asafoetida (Hing)
  • 4 - 6 tablespoons Cooking Oil
  • 4 teaspoons Salt
  • 8 cups Water


  • 6 - 8 leaves Curry Leaves (Available in Indian Grocery Stores)
  • 1 Green chilli (Serrano Pepper)
  • 1 Dried Red Chilli (Cayenne Pepper)


Step 1
Cook Toor Dahl. (See Recipes under 'Indian Basic' Category). The toor dahl should be cooked well so that it can be mashed well until the paste is smooth.
Step 2
In the meanwhile, place a sauce pan on medium heat. Add oil.
Step 3
When oil is hot, add mustard seeds. When mustard seeds crackle rapidly, add bell pepper. Stir fry a little.
Step 4
Make a small thin slit in the green chilli. Add the green chilli.
Step 5
Add the red chilli pepper. Stir fry for a minute or two.
Step 6
Add 4 cups of water, turmeric, 2 teaspoons salt, 2 teaspoons Sambar powder, turmeric powder, hing, curry leaves and two teaspoons of tamarind paste. Mix well.
Step 7
Cook partly covered for about 10 minutes or until the bell peppers are cooked but firm.
Step 8
Ladle the cooked toor dahl into the Sambar. Mix thoroughly and let it simmer for 5 minutes. The consistency of the Sambar should be like thin Pancake mix. But it should not be runny.
Step 9
Check for taste. If you like, add more tamarind, Sambar powder or salt. Mix well.
Step 10
Serve hot as a stew over rice, or as a side dish for Dosa's and Idli's or even Roti's and Naan's.
Sambar with Bell Peppers

Dosa Recipe (Plain & Masala Dosa with Veggie Filling)
Coconut Chutney

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