Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Hotel Style Sambhar

Sambhar is the name collectively give to a whole host of dishes cooked with dal, vegetables and a combination of spices. There is a different recipe utilized to make sambhar for every occasion and every meal. The sambhar cooked during breakfast is different from the one cooked for lunch and might vary from the one cooked for dinner. When large quantites of sambhar is cooked for special occasions a ground masala paste is added to give it an extra special taste and aroma. This sambhar is also referred to as Hotel Sambhar.

Attended potluck party over the weekend and mine was sambhar to make for about 30-40 people. Cooking for that many people is not usually easy because even tried and trusted recipes sometime don't cooperate in such large quantities. But adding a bit of spice paste always helps and the smell is amazing, got good reviews for the sambhar all round. I saved a bit to have with some dosai the next day.

Ragi Wheat Dosai with Sambhar

1. 1/2 Cup Toor Dal cooked in a pressure cooker with enough water(2 1/2 cups), some turmeric and few drops of oil till soft and mushy.
2. brinjal and drumsticks about 1/4 cup
3. 1/4 Red onion chopped or about 8-10 pearl onions
4. 2 tsp sambhar powder
5. 1/4 cup tamarind pulp from a cherry tomato sized ball of tamarind
6. salt to taste
7. 1/2 tsp ghee + 1/2 tsp oil
8. seasonings: mustard, curry leaves and methi seeds
9. Coriander leaves chopped
10. 1-2 cups of water

For the Paste
1. 2 tsp chana dal
2. 1 tsp coriander seeds
3. 1 red chili (or per taste)
4. few pepper corns
5. a pinch of methi seeds
6. 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
7. 1/2 tbsp fresh grated coconut
Dry roast 1-6 set aside, now add the coconut and saute till slightly brown.
Cool and make a paste

1. In a pan heat ghee and oil and add the seasonings, when mustard starts to pop add the onions and saute till translucent.
2. Now add the vegetables and saute for a few minutes.
3. Add the sambhar powder and mix well.
4. Add the tamarind pulp and the ground paste and a little bit of water and let the vegetables cook till soft
5. Now add the cooked toor dal,salt and more water if too thick.
6. Let it come to a boil, add the coriander leaves and switch off the heat.

Flavorful aromatic sambhar is now ready to be enjoyed with idlis or dosais.


  1. I always learn something from you, ISG. Here I thought "hotel sambhar" had something to do with the mix of veggies used -- now I see it's the special masala paste. Just bought some fresh chana dal today, so this goes to the top of the list.

    What a lucky big bunch of party-goers, feasting on your sambhar! :)

  2. Wish I could smell ur sambhar..The dosa too looks nice

  3. the 1/2 teaspoon ghee and 1/2 teaspoon oil trick always takes the sambhar to the next level. I love my sambhar like that!

  4. Hotel sambar is always preferred over the home mode sambars...

    Love the one from saravana bhavan. This goes into my list of to-tries

  5. Sambar is always a favourite with me.
    You made such a huge quantity of sambar...I would have been worried sick about whether it would come out right or not....

  6. So you add sambar powder and make your own masala. That's really interesting! I have only done one or the either. Not both. Which sambar powder do you use? If you make your own, please please share your recipe!

  7. Linda, I am positive ;) it is the masala paste that gives it its name. I should have added a bit more turmeric powder a brighter better look. You know exactly what to say to make me feel good :)

    Divya dosa is made with Wheat,Ragi and old idli batter.

    Dee, yup even the bit of ghee makes all the difference.

    Revathi, isn't that true? Let me know how close it comes to Saravan Bhavan's when you do make it, my yard stick is Annaporana.

    Jayashree, I was a teeny bit concerned but..

    Manisha have always done that if I skip the sambhar powder it won't be sambhar to me :) Lucky you! I do have the sambhar powder recipe, just kidding. Here is the link

  8. i love hotel sambhar for idlis

  9. so true, cooking for a big number like that does get a lil' tricky! u must feel so good that it turned out so good.
    love ragi dosa is a fav at home :)

  10. ISG, wow..thks for sharing the special paste recipe!! Me too either used store bought pwdr or home made one! THis is new to me, bookmarked shall b back wt feedback!!

  11. Sambhar's my hubby's goes well with idlis and dosas. my sambhar is bit different from urs. will try ur recipe some day..

  12. oh why you live so far away... but seem that I can sniff the wonderful aroma from here!

  13. nice sambhar and dosa... i love hotel sambhar...i am going to try this one soon...

  14. What is it with ragi everywhere?! I made ragi dosas yesterday by adding ragi flour to my very-soured regular-idli batter...but yours look much nicer. Will have to try the secret to the 'hotel style' sambar...

  15. Love this sambhar with idlis, especially. Nice one, Indo! :)

  16. SMN the best combo ever.

    Purnima eager to hear how it turned out for you.

    Richa, yes large amount of sambhar ends up tasting blah sometimes, the paste really helps.

    Anjali and Sandhya I am eager to hear how it turns out.

    Gattina the aroma was heady yes :)

    Anita, try adding a little bit of whole wheat flour to it too that is the secret, turns out really soft.

    Kalai, yes they taste great with idlis.

  17. Yes, this hotel sambhar, always so yummy :). I even end up making this for regular use!! Lovely recipe and thanks for the sambar powder recipe too. And love the ragi dose!

  18. hiiii ... I am in the same situation as to prepare sambar for 40 ppl...tomorrow :) so glad I found ur blog.. can u tell me the measurements you have posted - for how many people? If you could post that info, I can extrapulate that for 30 - 40 ppl. Thanks a ton.

  19. Mansa, the proportions I have mentioned are for about 4 - 6 people. When I cooked the sambhar for about 30 people I used about 3 1/2 cups of dal. Let me know how it turns out.

  20. Hi,
    Just made the Sambhar now with just onions and tomato. And yes, the paste did make all the difference. Made our Masala Dosai lunch complete!
    Thank you!

  21. I have gone through many how to make sambar receipe and find none has given how much of water has to be taken which is one of the main ingredients to get the best taste of sambar.

  22. Anon, I am not sure what you mean by how much water needs to be taken. The toor dal is cooked with enough water and add more water if the sambhar is too thick after the dal has been added.

    I have added water explicitly in the list of ingredients. Thanks.

  23. ISG, I tried this sambar today. Oh man, it tasted soo good. the spice paste made all the difference. I am not sure if you are on FB, but here is the pic. Thanks for the recipe.


  24. Hi Just a question. Most of the ingredients for the "paste" are already in the sambar powder so why do you duplicate it. Can't you use a little bit more sambar powder instead of using the paste?

  25. Anonymous,
    That is a good question. The taste for the Hotel Sambhar is a bit more intense than the regular sambhar which just uses the sambhar powder.
    The taste for this particular sambhar comes from the freshly roasted and blended spices. Adding more sambhar powder would not make it equal. It would be more hot (from the red chilies) than you want it to be. Also the roasted and ground coconut is a very essential ingredient.

  26. Hi,May i know the measurement for 30 people since i am planning my son's annaprasan on this monday. I am helpless...

    1. Sorry I just saw this comment. I am not sure if this will be helpful now. I am not exactly sure about 30 people but you can increase the amount of lentils/dal by 5 times which means about 4 cups and proportionately increase the spices accordingly.

  27. What are the proportions of you want to make this for 40 people. I have a small function coming up and would like to make this for the occassion.


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