Dosa Kitchen: Sambar Recipe

by | Jun 13, 2018

I am one of the lucky ones. Leda is my editor, and she and Nash are my friends. I have been invited to meals at their home and have enjoyed the incredible food Nash whips up, seemingly effortlessly, at their food truck in Brattleboro, Vermont. I am thrilled to finally have my hands on the recipes found in Dosa Kitchen: Recipes for India’s Favorite Street Food. Dosas are light, crisp crepes made of rice and lentils. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, fermented, and absolutely addictive. Consider putting dosa on your bucket list, because the Huffington Post includes it on their list of 10 Foods to Try before You Die!

If you love Indian food, don’t miss out on this book. The writing is impeccable (remember, Leda is my editor) and the cooking methods are clear and easy to follow. I am so excited to share this phenomenal resource with all of you.


Sambar is the king of dal, a lentil broth with tamarind tanginess and a complexity of flavors that calls for dipping Masala Dosa, a fermented crepe stuffed with spiced mashed potatoes. You’ll find the recipe for Masala Dosa in Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub’s book, Dosa Kitchen, and on their website, You can also serve sambar over rice for a simple yet complexly flavored meal.

Makes about 6 cups

1 cup toor dal (see Note)
½ teaspoon ground tumeric
1½ tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons red chile powder
¼ teaspoon ground fenugreek
¼ teaspoon plus a pinch of asafetida
1 large red onion, chopped
1 medium carrot, cut into julienne
2 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large tomato, chopped
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons tamarind puree, such as Swad
1 teaspoon jaggery
2½ teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
⅛ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
5 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 to 3 dried chiles, to taste
Handful of fresh curry leaves
¼ cup chopped cilantro

NOTE: Toor dal, also known as split pigeon peas, are similar in appearance to yellow split peas (but yellow split peas are not a substitute). They can be found in Indian grocery stores.

Place the toor dal in a medium bowl and cover with water by a couple inches. Soak for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours. Drain.

In a medium saucepan, combine the dal, 3 cups water, and ¼ teaspoon of the turmeric. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the dal is softened and starting to fall apart, 30 to 45 minutes. Do not drain. Remove the pan from the heat. Mash the dal with a potato masher to break it up (or combine with an immersion blender).

In a large saucepan, combine 3 cups water, the coriander, red chile powder, ground fenugreek, ¼ teaspoon asafetida, the remaining ¼ teaspoon turmeric, the onion, carrot, green beans, and tomato and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes, until the carrots and green beans start to soften. Add the cooked dal, the tamarind puree, jaggery, and salt. Increase the heat to return the mixture to a simmer, then cover again, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Temper the spices: Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the spices: first the fenugreek seeds, followed by the garlic, mustard seeds (they will start to pop), cumin seeds, red chiles, half of the curry leaves, and a pinch of asafetida. Let the spices darken a couple of shades, taking care not to let them burn. Add the spices and the remaining curry leaves to the dal and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes to let the flavors blend, then turn off the heat and add the cilantro.

Remove the red chiles or instruct diners to eat around them. Pour the sambar into small dipping bowls and serve with masala dosa. Or enjoy over rice with a dollop of yogurt for a quick meal. When reheating sambar, add a little water, as needed, to return it to its thin consistency. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Reprinted from Dosa Kitchen. Copyright © 2018 by Nash Patel and Leda Scheintaub. Photographs copyright © 2018 by Kristin Teig. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.