Drumstick Sambar: Blend Of Traditional South Indian Spices

When you pass through the streets of South India, you frequently hear the whistle or two of pressure cooker going off in most households in the mornings and the fragrances of sambar filling the air. In most families, Sambar is typically made once or twice a week and served for breakfast with Idli, Dosa, or Vadas and for lunch with hot steamed rice with a dollop of ghee, a Thoran or Palaya, and papad on the side. Idli Sambar and Vada Sambar have grown in popularity across India and are popular dishes in most eateries. Every state and household in South India has a unique and their own version of sambar. One such rich, nutritious and scrumptious variation of sambar is Drumstick Sambar.

This recipe for Drumstick Sambar is a must-try for breakfast, lunch, or dinner due to its nutritional value. Sambar is so tangy and flavourful that you may serve it with rice, idlis, or vadas to your kids or guests and they would adore it. The fact that this traditional sambar dish can be made in under an hour is its best feature. You won't be able to say no to this dish because of its enticing flavours. This meal is made with a blend of traditional south Indian spices and has a deep flavour from all of the vegetables. The addition of drumsticks to this dish helps digestion, and the sambar recipe would be incomplete without them.

Drumstick is well renowned for being therapeutic in addition to its culinary goodness. It has an enhanced nutritional profile and is grown throughout India. It is packed with antioxidants, fibre, zinc, iron, vitamin B, C, and other nutrients. Drumsticks are credited for everything from controlling digestion and metabolism to strengthening bones.

So, if you're prepared to make drumstick sambar the traditional way, here is a list of simple procedures to help you.


For Cooking Lentils

⅓ cup tur dal 

1.25 to 1.5 cups water

¼ teaspoon turmeric powder 

For Tamarind Pulp

½ tablespoon tamarind

¼ cup hot water

Other Ingredients

1 tablespoon sesame oil or coconut oil 

 ⅓ cup chopped onions

⅓ cup diced tomatoes

2 to 3 drumsticks (murungakkai) 

1 pinch turmeric powder

1.5 to 2 tablespoons sambar powder 

1 cup water

salt as required

For Tempering

1 tablespoon sesame oil or coconut oil

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

1 to 2 dry red chilies 

5 to 6 fenugreek seeds

10 to 12 curry leaves 


Rinse the tur dal in water few times

Take a 2-litre pressure cooker to cook the lentils

Add water and turmeric powder

On medium heat, pressure cook the lentils for 8 to 9 whistles

Only then should the lid be opened once the pressure has naturally subsided

Use a spoon or a wired whisk to mash the lentils and set aside

In the meantime, soak the tamarind for 20 to 30 minutes in a dish with warm or hot water

The tamarind pulp should then be squeezed into the water and save this tamarind pulp for later

Heat oil in a pan

Add chopped onions

Pearl onions should be stirred and sautéed until translucent or the sides begin to turn light golden

Add chopped tomatoes and sauté for a minute or two

Add the drumsticks and stir well

Now add the water and turmeric powder

Cook the drumsticks in the covered pan over a low to medium heat

Check on the drumsticks halfway through cooking

However, be careful not to overcook the drumsticks

Add the tamarind pulp once the drumsticks have cooked and soft

Then add the mashed and cooked lentils

Add sambar powder as well 

Season with salt to taste

Simmer the drumstick sambar for 6 to 7 minutes on low to medium heat

Turn off the heat and keep the pan covered and set away

Heat the oil in a small tadka pan. Add mustard seeds

Add the dry red chilies, fenugreek seeds, and curry leaves after the mustard seeds start to pop

Add asafoetida right away (hing)

Sauté the curry leaves until they are crisp

Add the tempering mixture to the drumstick sambar immediately

Cover and set aside for 4 to 5 minutes to allow the flavours infuse

Then, serve the drumstick sambar with steaming rice, idli, dosa, or medu vada. You can sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves on top of the sambar while it is being served.