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Lentil sambar recipe

Lentil sambar recipe

18 ratings

Pairing red lentils with a medley of herbs and spices, this Indian-inspired recipe is packed with rich and fragrant flavours for a truly delicious side dish. You can rustle it up in under an hour. See method

  • Serves 6
  • 5 mins to prepare and 40 mins to cook
  • 260 calories / serving
  • Vegetarian


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp curry powder or garam masala
  • 50ml tamarind paste
  • 200g red lentils
  • 1.2ltr vegetable stock
  • lime pickle, to serve (optional)

For the spiced oil

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 10 fresh curry leaves (optional)
If you don't have red lentils, you can try using green lentils instead

Each serving contains

  • Energy

  • Fat

    13g 18%
  • Saturates

    4g 19%
  • Sugars

    10g 11%
  • Salt

    2.1g 34%

of the reference intake
Carbohydrate 30.3g Protein 10.5g Fibre 1.4g


  1. Heat the oil in a large pan set over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and coconut. Season well and cook for 10 mins, or until golden.
  2. Add the turmeric, curry powder or garam masala, and tamarind. Cook for 1 min, then tip in the lentils and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 15 mins, or until the lentils have softened. Season to taste, then remove from the heat.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the spiced oil. Heat the oil in a small frying pan set over a low heat. Add the shallots and fry for 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until golden.
  4. Stir in the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, chilli flakes and curry leaves (if using). Cook for a few minutes until you hear the mustard seeds pop, then remove from heat. Spoon the spiced oil over the sambar. Serve with lime pickle on the side, if you like.

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