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Moong Dal Sambar With Special Homemade Sambar Masala | Instant Pot Recipe

Sambar is a quintessential South Indian curry that’s both flavorful and versatile. It’s one of the most popular & loved vegetarian curries made with lentils, vegetables, tamarind, and a unique blend of spices.

Over the years, I’ve tried a few variations of sambar. Traditional sambar is made with toor dal & there are vegetables exclusively for making sambar.

For making this version, I’ve added moong dal & made a special homemade masala.

The preparation usually involves cooking the lentils and vegetables separately, then combining them with the tamarind extract and sambar powder. The mixture is simmered until the flavors meld together. Finally, the tempering is added to the sambar, giving it a final aromatic touch.

Sambar is incredibly versatile. It can be served with rice, dosa, idli, vada, or as a soup on its own. Variations of sambar exist across different South Indian states, each with its unique ingredients and proportions, but the essence of a good sambar is the balance of flavors—spicy, tangy, and savory all at once.

Other Sambar Recipes, Click Here

Moong Dal Sambar With Special Homemade Sambar Masala
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 6 people
For making sambar masala
  • Fenugreek seeds- 1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds- 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds- 1 tbsp
  • Chana dal- 2 tbsp
  • Urad dal- 2 tsp
  • Dried red chilies- 5
For cooking moong dal
  • Moong dal- ¾ cup (or add toor dal)
  • Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
  • Green chili- 2
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  • Salt- 1 tsp
  • Water- 1½ cups
For cooking vegetables
  • Carrot, diced- 1
  • Drumsticks-Moringa- 5, cut into 3-inch slices
  • Ash Gourd, diced- ½ cup
  • Eggplant, diced- ½ cup
  • Okra- 6, round cuts
  • Water- ½ cup
  • Salt- ½ tsp
For making masala seasoning
  • Coconut oil- 2 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds- 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds- ½ tsp
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  • Prepared sambar masala- 2 tbsp
  • Kashmiri chili powder- 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
  • Coriander powder- 1 tsp
  • Asafoetida- ¼ tsp
While cooking sambar
  • Tamarind- 3-inch slice soaked in ½ cup warm water
  • Warm water- 1 cup
  • Cilantro, chopped- ¼ cup
  • Salt- as required
  1. I cooked the sambar in the Instant Pot. You can also cook in a regular pressure cooker.
  2. Firstly, let's make the homemade sambar masala.
  3. Place a pan over medium heat, add the fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds, chana dal & urad dal.
  4. Roast for 3 minutes, finally add dried red chilies & roast for 2 minutes.
  5. Take the pan off the heat, let cool down.
  6. Grind everything to a fine powder. We'll be only using 2 tbsp sambar masala, store the remaining masala in an air-tight container.
  7. In a bowl, add the fresh tamarind & soak in ½ cup warm water for 5 minutes.
  8. After 5 minutes, squeeze the tamarind in water, strain the juice & discard the skin. Keep it aside.
  9. I've used moong dal, instead of moong dal, instead of moong dal toor dal can also be added.
  10. Rinse the moong dal, add to the stainless steel pot.
  11. Add turmeric powder, green chilies, curry leaves, salt & water.
  12. Close the pot with the lid.
  13. Select pressure cook setting, set the time to 10 minutes at high pressure.
  14. After pressure cooking, let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes & do a quick pressure release.
  15. Open the lid, the dal will be cooked perfectly.
  16. Transfer to a bowl, keep it aside.
  17. To the same stainless steel pot, add the mixed vegetables along with water & salt.
  18. Close with the lid, select pressure cooking set the time to 2 minutes at high pressure.
  19. After pressure cooking, do a quick pressure release, open the lid.
  20. Add the cooked moong dal to the cooked vegetable, combine well.
  21. Select saute setting, at medium temperature.
  22. Add the tamarind extract, combine well.
  23. Thin down with 1 cup warm water.
  24. In the meantime, place a frying pan over medium heat.
  25. Add coconut oil let turn hot.
  26. Add mustard seeds, let splutter.
  27. Add fenugreek seeds, saute for a few seconds. Don't burn the seeds.
  28. Add curry leaves, 2 tbsp prepared sambar masala, turmeric powder, coriander powder & asafoetida, combine well.
  29. Immediately, add the masala to the cooked dal & veggies, combine well.
  30. Add asafoetida, combine well & cook for a minute.
  31. Taste & add salt if required.
  32. Let the sambar come to a boil.
  33. Finally, garnish with chopped cilantro.
  34. Take the pot out of the main pot & keep it covered for a few minutes.
  35. Enjoy this sambar with rice, dosa, idli, vada, etc.



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...