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tiffin sambar recipe
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Tiffin sambar recipe | Idli sambar

Tiffin sambar recipe, learn how to make south Indian style sambar had along idli, dosa and other tiffin items. Prepared with fresh ground sambar masala and toor dal.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Breakfast
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4


  • ¼ cup Toor dal heaped
  • 1 Potato
  • 12 Shallots (small onion)
  • 2 Green chilli
  • 1 Tomato
  • 1 teaspoon Tamarind - small marble size
  • ¼ teaspoon Turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon Jaggery powdered
  • teaspoon Asafoetida
  • 4 Curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoon Coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon Ghee
  • Salt - As needed

To roast

  • 1 teaspoon ghee/ oil
  • 1 tbsp Chana dal heaped
  • ¾ tablespoon Coriander seeds
  • 4 Red chillies
  • ½ teaspoon Fenugreek seeds
  • ½ teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • teaspoon Asafoetida

To Temper

  • 2 teaspoon Oil Or ghee
  • ½ teaspoon Mustard
  • ½ teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves
  • 1 Pinch Asafoetida


Tamarind extract & Cook dal

  • Soak tamarind in warm water for 10 - 20 mins for easy extract. Total tamarind extract measure 3 cups. So adjust water accordingly. Check my video for an easy alternate method.
  • Wash the potato well and cut into 4.
  • Pressure cook toor dal along with potato for 3-4 whistles. Add 1 cup water, 2 pinches of turmeric, 2 pinches of asafoetida and few drops of sesame oil.
  • Once done, take out the potato, peel off the skin and break/ cut into bite size pieces.
  • Mash the dal smoothly. Set aside.

Fresh ground sambar masala

  • Meanwhile, roast the ingredients under ‘To roast’ table. You can roast everything together. But except jeera/ cumin seeds, which has to be added towards the end when the other ingredients gets the golden color.
  • Take care not to burn anything. So roast in medium flame with constant roasting. If anything gets burnt, the total dish will not turn out that good as this is the star ingredient!
  • Cool down and powder into a coarse powder. In between powdering, you might need to wipe the sides, lid of the mixer for even powdering. Set aside.

Prepare Idli sambar

  • In a kadai, heat oil and temper with the items given under ‘To temper table’ in order.
  • Add asafoetida and give a quick stir.
  • Tip in onions and fry till transparent. Add tomatoes, green chillies and fry for a minute.
  • Start heating tamarind extract in a large vessel / pot in which we are making sambar.
  • Add the sauteed onion, tomato mix to it. Now add few torn curry leaves, coriander leaves, salt, turmeric, rest of the asafoetida and bring to boil.
  • Then add the potatoes. Boil for 2 minutes and add the sambar powder.
  • Add it in a sprinkled way little by little with constant stirring to avoid any lump formation.
  • Let it come to a boil. Then add the mashed dal. If the dal is too tight, add more water to loosen it before adding it to sambar.
  • Now after adding the ground sambar powder and dal, the sambar tends to thicken.
  • So you might be needed to add some ¾ cup to 1 cup water to bring it to the right consistency.
  • Once it starts boiling, as a final touch add the powdered jaggery and mix well.
  • Top with few more torn coriander leaves or curry leaves and mix in the ghee. Switch off the flame.



  • This sambar should be with less tamarind, unlike our regular sambar. So using vellai puli works best.
  • The tomato will give mild tanginess that is not sharp, perfect for the tiffin items.
  • We usually top with sesame oil for extra flavor.
  • Using ghee for tempering and roasting gives more flavorful sambar.
  • Smells great even the next day, exactly like a hotel sambar.
  • I have added asafoetida at various stages, but you can use it only while tempering or adding in the dal/ roasting in sambar masala.