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Instant Pot Easy Tomato Sambar-With Homemade Sambar Masala

Tomato Sambar made in the Instant Pot…

Sambar is a popular South Indian vegetarian gravy based dish that’s served along with dosa, idli, rice etc. The authentic sambar is made with mixed veggies and toor or tuvar dal. There are literally n number of variations for making sambar. Grated coconut is roasted along with whole spices and made into a paste and added to the gravy- this is Chettinad style sambar, very flavorful sambar.

In other kinds, mixed veggies are cooked with toor dal and then sambar masala is added along with tamarind extract. Even the kind of veggies used can vary from region to region.

This time, I made sambar with tomatoes as I had an abundance of tomatoes; harvested a lot of tomatoes from my veggie garden. I cannot put into words the joy I have when I cook with the veggies freshly picked from my garden.

I made the homemade sambar masala as well- roasted the whole spices and ground to fine powder. This masala is packed with flavors and made the sambar taste extremely delicious.

The best part is homemade sambar masala can be stored in an air tight container for a few months. So guys, give this recipe a try and this will turn into your favorite sambar recipe.

Chettinad style Sambar, click here for the recipe

Green Tomatoes Sambar- South Indian Recipe

Cooking Video

Instant Pot Easy Tomato Sambar
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
For making homemade Sambar Masala-Makes 4 tbsp
  • Chana dal- 2 tbsp
  • Coriander seeds- 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
  • Whole black peppercorns- 1 tsp
  • Dried red chilies- 3
For making Sambar
  • Toor Dal or Tuvar Dal- 1 cup
  • Water- 1½ cups (to cook toor dal)
  • Turmeric powder- ⅛ tsp
  • Tomatoes, chopped- 3
  • Water- ½ cup
  • Prepared sambar masala- 2 tbsp
  • Tamarind extract- ¼ cup (soak 2 inch slice tamarind in ¼ cup lukewarm water)
  • Asafoetida- 2 pinches
  • Cilantro, chopped- 2 handfuls
For making Tempering
  • Oil- 1 tbsp (coconut oil or vegetable oil)
  • Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
  • Dried red chilies- 2
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  1. Firstly, let's make the homemade sambar masala.
  2. Place a pan over medium heat, let turn hot.
  3. Add chana dal first and saute for a minute.
  4. Add coriander seeds, cumin seeds, whole peppercorns and dried red chilies. Roast till aromatic and seeds turn light brown. Don't burn the whole spices.
  5. Keep aside the pan and let the seeds cool down.
  6. Add the roasted spices to a blender jar or spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder.
  7. This masala can be stored in an air tight container for a few months. This recipe will yield 4 tbsp.
Making Sambar
  1. Soak 2 inches fresh tamarind in ¼ cup lukewarm water. Soak for 5 minutes.
  2. After 5 minutes, squeeze the tamarind in water to extract the juice. Strain the juice and discard the skin. Keep it aside.
  3. Rinse the toor dal taken in a strainer.
  4. Turn on the Instant Pot- I used Ultra model IP. If you don't have an IP- cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker till 2 whistles.
  5. Add toor dal and 1½ cups water to the stainless steel pot.
  6. Close with the lid. Select Pressure mode- high pressure, set time to 3 minutes.
  7. After 3 minutes, do a quick pressure release.
  8. It only takes 3 minutes to cook toor dal in the IP.
  9. Cancel pressure cook mode and select saute mode at normal temperature.
  10. Add turmeric powder and chopped tomatoes to the cooked toor dal. Combine well.
  11. Add ½ cup water.
  12. Let cook for a few minutes till tomatoes are cooked.
  13. Add the prepared sambar masala- 2 tbsp, combine well. Cook for a minute.
  14. Add tamarind juice, combine well and cook for a minute.
  15. Add asafoetida, combine well.
  16. Add cilantro, cook for a minute.
  17. Remove the stainless steel pot from the main pot. Keep it aside.
Making tempering
  1. Place a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add oil, let oil turn hot.
  3. Add mustard seeds, let splutter.
  4. Add dried red chilies and curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds.
  5. Pour the tempering over the cooked sambar.
  6. Close the pot with a lid and keep covered for sometime.
  7. This sambar can be served with dosa, idli, rice, chapati etc.
Instead of tomatoes, you can add mixed veggies like carrots, potatoes, okra, eggplant, drumstick etc- cook along with the toor dal and follow the other steps.

Make the sambar masala ahead of time and store in an air tight container.



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...