Chettinad Coconut Indian Sambar- Vegetarian curry Vegetarian

Chettinad Sambar With Toor Dal & Mixed Veggies, Cooked In Roasted Coconut Gravy

Hands down, the best tasting & flavourful sambar…

Chettinad Sambar is a distinctive and flavorful version of the popular South Indian lentil-based vegetable stew known as sambar, which originates from the Chettinad region of Tamil Nadu. This area is renowned for its rich culinary traditions, which include an extensive use of spices, making Chettinad dishes notably vibrant and aromatic.

The speciality about Chettinad sambar is that the whole spices & grated coconut are roasted & ground, the ground paste is then added to the mixed veggies & toor dal.

Once the vegetables, dal, spices, and tamarind have melded together, the tadka is prepared in a small pan. This hot oil mixture is then poured over the sambar, infusing it with a fragrant oil that pops with flavour.

Chettinad sambar pairs wonderfully with steamed rice, idli, dosa, or even vada, making it a versatile dish that’s cherished not just in its place of origin but across many parts of India and beyond.

Dosa, Sambar, Tomato curry, Chutney powder & Fliter Coffee

Chettinad Sambar With Toor Dal & Mixed Veggies, Cooked In Roasted Coconut Gravy
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 5 people
For Roasting
  • Fenugreek seeds- ½ tsp
  • Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds- 1½ tbsp
  • Garlic- 2 to 3 cloves
  • Small onions- 4
  • Coconut grated- 1 cup
For cooking toor dal
  • Toor dal, rinsed- ½ cup
  • Turmeric powder- ⅛ tsp
  • Salt- ½ tsp
  • Curry leaves- 8 leaves
  • Water- 1 cup
For cooking vegetables
  • Drumsticks- Moringa- 8
  • Cluster beans, halved- 10
  • Okra, cut into 2-inch slices- 8
  • Carrot, diced- 1
  • Green chilies, halved- 2
  • Kashmiri chili powder- 1 tbsp
  • Salt- 1½ tsp
  • Asafoetida- ¼ tsp
  • Tamarind extract, freshly squeezed- ½ cup (2 inch slice soaked in ½ tbsp lukewarm water)
  • Water- 1½ cups
For making tempering
  • Coconut Oil- 1½ tbsp
  • Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
  • Dried red chilies, halved- 2
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
Roasting Spices & Coconut
  1. Place a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds, saute for a few seconds. Be careful not to burn the fenugreek seeds.
  3. Add small onions, garlic and grated coconut, roast till coconut turns golden brown in color.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, let coconut cool down for a bit.
  5. Add to a blender along with ¼ to ½ cup water and grind to a smooth paste. Keep it aside.
Prep work
  1. Soak 2-inch slice fresh tamarind in ½ cup lukewarm water for 3 minutes, squeeze the tamarind in water and extract the juice, strain the juice.
Pressure cooking toor dal
  1. I've taken ½ cup toor dal, rinse in water till the water turns clear.
  2. I'm pressure cooking the toor dal in the Instant Pot.
  3. Add the rinsed toor dal to the stainless steel pot.
  4. Add turmeric powder, salt, curry leaves & 1 cup water.
  5. Close with the lid.
  6. Pressure cook for 8 minutes at high pressure.
  7. After pressure cooking, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes & then do a quick pressure release.
  8. Keep the cooked toor dal aside.
Cooking vegetables
  1. Place a clay pan or sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add drumsticks, cluster beans, carrot & green chilies.
  3. Add 1 cup water & cook covered for a few minutes till the veggies turn soft.
  4. Don't over cook the veggies.
  5. I cooked the okra or lady's finger separately, as they will turn mushy when cooked with the veggies.
  6. Place a small pan over medium heat, add 1 tsp coconut oil & add the okra, saute well.
  7. Cook till the okra turns soft.
  8. After the mixed veggies have turned soft, add the ground coconut, combine well.
  9. Rinse the blender jar with ½ cup water & add to the pan, combine well.
  10. Add Kashmiri chili powder & salt, combine well, cook for a few minutes.
  11. Add the cooked toor dal, combine well.
  12. The mixture will be thick, add around 1 to 1½ cups warm water, combine well.
  13. Add Asafoetida and combine well.
  14. Add the tamarind extract, combine well.
  15. Cook for a few minutes till the sambar comes to a boil.
  16. Taste and add more salt if required.
  17. Take the pan off the heat & keep it covered.
Making tempering
  1. Place a small frying pan over medium heat, add coconut oil.
  2. Add mustard seeds, let them splutter.
  3. Add dried red chilies & curry leaves, fry for a few seconds.
  4. Pour the tempering over the sambar & keep the sambar covered for a few minutes, let the aroma from the tempering infuse into the sambar.
  5. This is an extremely flavourful & aromatic sambar, enjoy with dosa, idli, vada or with rice.


Thas is the author of Cooking with Thas, a popular food blog with recipes from Indian, American and Fusion Cuisines. She has been blogging since 2009 and been featured in several magazines. Read more...