Sambar (Bitter Gourd, Radishes & Ground Spices)

Sambar (Bitter Gourd, Radishes & Ground Spices)

There is the simple Sambar (pronounced Saambaar) which has become such a popular dish all over India. Besides being a tasty, aromatic sauce/stew with vegetables, it is wonderfully healthy. 

But this Sambar here is a sort of exotic, gourmet Sambar, if you will. You use unusual vegetables and freshly grounded spices. However, the finished product is amazing. For one who relishes the Food and Spices of India, this will be a lovely variation of the traditional, plain Sambar.This dish will taste great with a lot of main dishes.

Sambar with Fresh Spices...exotic

Sambar with Fresh Spices…exotic

Hover over the highlighted Keywords below for Images and/or Description of some of the Ingredients:
Asafoetida (Hing), Bitter Guord, Cayenne Pepper, Channa Dahl, Coconut, Coriander, Curry Leaves, Daikon, Mustard Seeds, Red Chillies, Red Radish, ~Rice, ~Tamarind, Toor Dahl, Turmeric

Sambar with Veggies and Fresh Spices

Sambar (Bitter Gourd, Radishes & Ground Spices)

Serves 4 - 6
Prep time 20 minutes
Cook time 20 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Dietary Diabetic, Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Meal type Indian Gravy, Side Dish
Misc Freezable, Gourmet, Pre-preparable, Serve Hot
Region Indian


  • 1 cup Toor Dahl
  • 4 cups White Radish (Daikon) (radish, peeled & cut. Vegetable available in Indian and Chinese Grocery Stores)
  • 2 bunches Red Radish (washed, trimmed and each cut into two)
  • 2 Small Bitter Gourd
  • 4 tablespoons Cooking Oil (Olive, Avocado, Canola, Sesame or other Oil)
  • 2 tablespoons Coriander Seeds
  • 2 tablespoons Channa Dahl
  • 2 - 4 Whole, Dried Red Chilies (Cayenne) (2 if large chillies, 3 to 4 if small chillies, depending upon how hot you want it)
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Asafoetida (Hing)
  • 2 teaspoons Turmeric Powder
  • 3 pieces Fresh Coconut (each about 2x2 inch piece)
  • 1 - 2 tablespoon Tamarind Paste
  • 2 - 3 teaspoons Salt
  • 6 - 8 cups Water


  • 8 - 10 leaves Curry Leaves


Step 1
Cook the toor dahl. (See Recipes under 'Indian Basic' Category).
Step 2

Slice each bitter gourd lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds. Slice them into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Place the bitter gourd pieces in a saucepan. Add water so that it is about 2 inches above the vegetable. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon turmeric. Boil until the vegetable is well-cooked but firm. Do not overcook. Drain the vegetable in a colander. Set aside.

Step 3

Peel the daikon (white radish). Slice or cut them into 1/8 inch thick pieces of about 1 inch diameter.

Step 4
Place a small frying pan on medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil.
Step 5

When oil is hot, add whole red chilies, coriander seeds, channa dahl and 1 tsp mustard seeds. Fry until channa dahl is golden brown. Do not fry too much. Add the coconut pieces and stir fry for a minute more. Set aside and let it cool.

Step 6

Place the fried spices in a blender/grinder. Add half a cup of water. Grind until it turns into a smooth paste. (Add a tablespoon of water at a time, if necessary). Transfer the ground paste into a bowl. If the paste is too sticky in the blender, you can add a little water and pour it out into the bowl.

Step 7

Place a large sauce pan on medium heat. Add 3 tbsp oil. When oil is heated add mustard seeds. When they crackle rapidly add the daikon pieces. Add 4 cups of water, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon turmeric and hing to the saucepan. Mix well. When daikon is about half-cooked, add 1 tablespoon of tamarind. Cook until daikon is cooked but very firm. Do not overcook.

Step 8

In a separate saucepan, add a little oil. Add the red radish pieces. Stir fry for about 15 seconds. Add 2 cups of water and half a teaspoon of salt. Cook until radish is cooked but firm. Drain. Add the drained red radish into the saucepan.

Step 9
Add the drained bitter gourd pieces into the sauce pan.
Sambar with Bitter Guord
Step 10

Mash the cooked toor dahl well. If necessary, use a hand held mixer and pulse once or twice until the toor dahl is mashed. Add the mashed toor dahl to the saucepan. Mix well.

Step 11

Add the blended spice paste into the sauce pan. Stir the ingredients gently without breaking the veggie pieces. Let it simmer for 2 more minutes. Taste a little. Add more salt or tamarind, if you like, according to your taste.

Sambar with Veggies and Fresh Spices
Step 12

Serve Serve hot on a bed of Rice or with Idlis, Dosas and Vadas.

Simple Potato Curry
Easy Celery Rice

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