When I feel like having something simple, mildly spicy and comforting, my first choice is Sambar Rice. Especially during winters, sambar rice is something that I often crave for. This is mainly because it is one dish that I have eaten regularly right from my childhood.

Sambar Sadam is a popular, wholesome South Indian dish where Rice, lentil and vegetables are cooked together. Sambar Rice is a great option for lunch box too. Tastes so good with some incredibly delicious potato fry and chips. Does this make you hungry already? Then, don’t miss to try this recipe.

Tamilnadu Style Sambar Rice

Sambar rice is often confused with Bisi Bele Bath. Both the dishes look somewhat similar but the masala is a little different. The end result is also a little different in taste and colour. This Sambar Sadam is a specialty dish in Tamil Nadu.

Especially, I love the ones we get in temples. With not much oil and masala, this dish tastes so simple yet delicious. Also, any restaurant back home has its own version of Sambar Sadam. My favourite is the one we get at the Hotel Saravana Bhavan. Out of all the dishes, this is the first one that I order every time we go to a South Indian restaurant.

Sambar Rice

Talking about Sambar Sadam, I still remember the one we used to get in our college canteen. We used to rush to the canteen before classes started, just for a hot plate of Sambar Sadam. They used to serve it with some appalam. What bliss!

This is one dish that I grew up eating a lot. My love for this wholesome rice never ends. If you love South Indian recipes, Sambar Sadam is one recipe you should be making.

Sambar Sadam can be made as a one pot meal in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. In this recipe, I have used both the pressure cooker and a deep pan to make this dish. While there are many variations of sambar rice, what I am sharing here is the one that is most enjoyed in our household.

The specialty of this recipe

The specialty of this particular recipe is the freshly made spice paste that is added to the rice. Homemade or Readymade Sambar powder can also be used in its place. But I feel this freshly ground paste elevates the recipe to another level.

sambar rice

Also, this recipe is Vegan and Gluten-Free. It is a wholesome dish with a bunch of vegetables included. With lentils, rice and vegetables together, nothing more is needed to have a filling meal. With basic ingredients in hand, this delicious one-pot meal can be put together in 30 mins. Isn’t that fantastic?

How to make Sambar Rice

First, take 3/4 cup rice and 1/2 cup dal together in a bowl. Wash and soak them for 30 minutes. This ensures the rice and dal get cooked well.

Meanwhile, soak gooseberry sized tamarind in 1 cup water for 15 minutes. Take extract and keep aside. In a pressure cooker add onion, tomato, dal, rice, turmeric powder, kashmiri chilli powder ( just for the colour ) and salt. Add 3 cups water and cook for 3 whistles. This amount of water and cooking time is enough for the rice since we have soaked it in water for 30 mins. Once cooked, allow the pressure to release naturally. Slightly mash and keep it aside.

Dice the vegetables in medium size and pressure cook for 2 whistles.

Sambar Rice

In a pan, add sesame oil. Once hot, add 1 & 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, 4 red chillies, 1 tsp chana dal, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds, 1/4 tsp peppercorn. Saute on a medium flame till a nice aroma comes. Make sure you don’t burn the spices. Once done, let it cool. Add a little water and make a fine paste out of these spices.

Sambar Rice

In a kadai, add ghee or sesame oil. Try to use either one of these for a nice aroma and flavour. Once hot, add shallots and saute till it turns light brown.

Sambar Rice

Once shallots turn light brown, add the cooked vegetables and saute for a minute. Now, add this tamarind water, turmeric powder and salt to the kadai. Let it boil till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.

Sambar Rice

Add the freshly ground masala paste and cook for a couple of minutes. If using sambar powder, add it now and cook till the raw smell of the powder leaves.

Sambar Rice

Add the cooked rice and dal mixture. Stir well and taste for salt.

Sambar Rice

Temper with mustard, red chillies, curry leaves, asafoetida and cashews. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve. Use ghee/sesame oil for tempering.

Sambar Rice


  • To make this Sambar Rice, I have used white rice. Millets, Quinoa or Brown Rice can be used in place of white raw rice. I like using foxtail millet in this recipe. Tastes really good when cooked along with dal and masala.
  • Store-bought sambar powder or even homemade sambar powder can be used in this recipe. But, the freshly made sambar masala paste is the star of this dish. So, I would insist on using the same for the best possible result.
  • I have used kashmiri chilli powder to get a slightly darker colour. You can either skip it or add whole kashmiri chilli along with the regular red chillies while making spice paste.
  • Apart from the vegetables I have used in this recipe, Radish, Turnip, Brinjals, Bell Pepper can also be used.
  • This is not the quickest sambar rice recipe out there as it is not a one-pot dish. At the same time, it is not very time consuming either. To put together a wholesome dish in 30 minutes is a great choice. Also, it’s a perfect meal when you have guests at home.


Sambar Rice

A wholesome, delicious South Indian meal consisting of lentil, rice and mixed vegetables.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Easy Sambar Rice, Lentil Rice, Lunch Ideas, One Pot Sambar Rice, Pressure cooker sambar rice, Quick Sambar rice, Sambar Rice, Sambar Rice recipe, Sambar Sadam, Sambar Sadam Recipe, Sambar sadham, South Indian Sambar Rice, Tamil Nadu Sambar Rice
Servings: 4 people
Author: Gayathri Vijayakumar


For the masala paste

  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp chana dal
  • 4 red chillies
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp pepper corn
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut

For the Rice

  • 2 cups Carrot, French Beans, Peas, Potato, Drumstick
  • 1 cup tamarind extract
  • 10 shallots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt as needed
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • 3/4 cup raw rice
  • 1/2 cup toor dal

To Temper and Garnish

  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 10 cashews
  • asafoetida a pinch
  • curry leaves few
  • 2 red chillies
  • 2 tbsp coriander leaves


  • Wash and soak the rice and dal together for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, soak gooseberry sized tamarind in 1 cup water for 15 minutes. Take extract and keep aside.
  • In a pressure cooker, add 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped tomato, rice , toor dal, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, kashmiri chilli powder, little salt and 3 cups water. Cook for 4 whistles. Once pressure releases naturally, mash and keep aside.
  • Dice 2 cups veggies and pressure cook for 2 whistles and keep aside. I have used potato, carrot, beans, peas, drumstick.
  • In a pan, add sesame oil and add all the ingredient under " for masala paste". Saute on medium to low flame till a nice aroma comes. Don't let it burn. Switch off. Cool and make a paste by adding littlre water to it.
  • In a pan, add ghee/sesame oil. Once hot, add shallots. Saute till it turns light brown.
  • Add the cooked vegetables. saute for a minute.
  • Add tamarind extract, turmeric powder and salt as needed.
  • Let the tamarind extract boil till raw smell goes.
  • Add the ground paste and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the cooked rice and dal mixture to this pan and give a good mix. Taste for salt and add if needed.
  • Adjust consistency by adding little boiling hot water if needed. This is to loosen the rice and dal.
  • Switch off. In a tempering kadai, add ghee. Once hot, add mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida, broken cashews and red chillies. Once the mustard splutters and cashews turn light golden in colour, add it to the sambar rice.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve .