Quick Fiery Sambar (Red Bell Pepper)

Sambar is one of the favorite and default items in our menu when guests come over – as well as at least once a week for us 🙂 … There are several ways that sambar is made.

Our faves are onion sambar and red bell pepper sambar, in no particular order. Red pepper gives a unique flavor, fragrance, and taste to the sambar that is divine! Not to mention the fiery red color – so the name of my entry – though the spice level can be varied by adjusting the sambar powder.

My version is as usual a twist on the traditional method of grinding coconut. This one is J aunt’s way of making sambar – I learnt it from DH.

This one has coconut as well as sambar powder – DH swears by Ambika Sambar Podi! You can try it out with a sambar powder of your choice.



This one is an entry to Pooja’s VoW-JFI “Bell Peppers”.



Red bell peppers: 3

Tuvar dal (Yellow pigeon peas split): ½ cup

Asafoetida powder: ¼ teaspoon

Turmeric powder: ¼ teaspoon

Sambar powder: 2½ teaspoons (We use Ambika Sambar Powder)

Tamarind: about 1 large lemon (or about equivalent tamarind paste)

Rice Flour: 2 teaspoons

Grated coconut: 2 tablespoons or to your taste

Fenugreek (Methi) Seeds: ¼ teaspoon

Curry leaves: 3-4 torn

Mustard seeds: ½ teaspoon

Dry red chillies: 2 split in halves

Oil: 2 teaspoons

Salt to taste



  1. In a pressure cooker, cook the tuvar dal with 2.5-3 cups of water for about 4-5 whistles (or till well-cooked and mushy).
  2. Wait for the steam to be released from the cooker. Once the steam is released from the cooker, mash the dal slightly with the back of a ladle.
  3. In the meanwhile, soak the tamarind in water and heat in a microwave for about a minute. When cooled, extract all the pulp and discard the skins. You may use additional water to extract the pulp – a total of about 4 cups.
  4. Chop the red bell peppers into ½ inch pieces.

  6. In a heavy-bottomed vessel/pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds, dry red chillies, and methi seeds.
  7. When they pop, add the curry leaves and grated coconut. Fry for about 30 seconds.
  8. Add the tamarind pulp to the tempering and include the red bell peppers. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the tamarind pulp and peppers.
  9. When cooked for about 10 minutes, add the sambar, turmeric, and asafoetida powders. Cook further for a total of about 20 minutes or till the peppers are cooked.
  10. Then, mix in the mashed tuvar dal.
  11. Cook for a couple of minutes so that the flavors blend.
  12. In the meanwhile, make a paste of the rice flour in about 2-3 tablespoons of water – ensure no lumps.
  13. Mix in this rice flour paste in the sambar and stir well to blend well.
  14. Cook for 7-10 minutes till the rice flour is cooked and the sambar thickens.
  15. Finally, add salt to taste and check the spice and salt levels – adjust if required.
  16. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.
  17. Serve hot with rice, idli, dosa, adai, or such varieties.
  18. Note: Sambar thickens as it cools down and if refrigerated. Also, the flavors set in better over a few hours.


One Response to “Quick Fiery Sambar (Red Bell Pepper)”

  1. Wow , that is a tasty entry indeed. Thank you being a part of Vow – JFI Jan 🙂

    From skribles: Thanks Pooja

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