Tiffin sambar recipe, Side dish for idli, dosa

  Tiffin Sambar, A popular, tasty South Indian gravy made by simmering lentils and
shallots along with tamarind extract. Tiffin Sambar or Idli Sambar is a popular side dish
recipe for idli or dosa in many hotels in South India, which is made by replacing yellow
moong dal instead of the usual toor dal. I adapted this recipe from my mother who always
makes this version of sambar to pair with Pongal or idli or dosa. We make the usual toor
dal version to pair with rice. Moving on to the recipe of hotel style tiffin sambar. Look out
for my restaurant style Sambar Vadai recipe for an interesting variation.

Tiffin Sambar

Tiffin sambar recipe
Tiffin sambar recipe

  • Recipe Cusine: Indian
  • Prep Time: 10 Minutes
  • Cook time: 30 Minutes
  • Serves: 3-4
  • Author: Jeyashri
  • Recipe Category: Breakfast| Dinner
  • Description: Tiffin Sambar, A popular, tasty South Indian gravy made by simmering lentils and shallots along with tamarind extract.

    Small onion | Shalltos  10-12
    Tomato  1
    Tamarind  a small gooseberry size
    Yellow moong dal  1/4 cup
    Sambar powder  1 tsp
    Turmeric powder  1/4 tsp
    Salt  to taste
    Oil  1  tsp
    Curry leaves   few
     Asafoetida  a pinch
    To roast and grind
    Coriander seeds | dhaniya  1/2 tsp
    Red chili  2
    Channa dal  1/2 tsp
    Cumin seeds  1/4 tsp
    Coconut   1 tblsp 
    Oil  2 tsp

Tiffin Sambar

Method with step by step pictures :

  • Peel the skin of the small onions and chop the tomatoes finely.
  • Pressure cook the dal till 3 whistles by adding enough water and a pinch of turmeric powder to it.
  • In a pan, add oil and temper with mustard seeds and a red chili . When it splutters add the onions and saute in a low flame, without getting it burnt.
  • When it is done add the tomatoes.
IMG_1098 IMG_1100
  • When the tomatoes become mushy add the tamarind extract(soak a small gooseberry sized tamarind in hot water and extract juice adding a cup of water to this)
  • Add sambar powder, turmeric powder and salt to this.
  • Let this boil in a low flame.
  • Take another pan and add few drops of oil and throw in the coriander seeds, chana dal, and red chili.
  • Saute till they gives a nice brown colour.
  • When it cool,grind this into a very smooth paste along with coconut and cumin seeds.
IMG_1105 IMG_1106
  • Add the cooked moong dal to the boling tamarind extract, along with the ground paste.
  • Add enough water as per your desired consistency. I added a cup of water.
  • Boil nicely and add chopped coriander leaves and curry leaves.
IMG_1109 IMG_1111
  • Serve hot with vadaidli, dosa or ven pongal.
Tiffin sambar recipe
  1. Big onions can be replaced instead of shallots.
  2. Even toor dal can be used instead of moong dal to make tiffin sambar.

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  1. Sambar looks delicious and tempting...

  2. Perfect with idlies! :P

  3. I too make this often and like you J,I had never been able to click the recipe so far.. Planning to click it the next time. Lovely presentation.

  4. perfect tiffin sambhar..yummy..

  5. Looks flavourful and yummy.....am feeling hungry

  6. Lovely presentation. Looks flavourful and delicious

  7. this is my fav sambhar..my mil makes the same but we add toor dal ..ur clicks made me drool..

  8. Yummy sambar ....looks so gud

  9. Very flavorful and yummy sambar..just love it

  10. love this sambar...I use half toor dal n half moong dal for this recipe

  11. I love these small onions in sambar...Looks yummy and beautifully presented

    Hamaree Rasoi

  12. This looks awesome dear...you have made it perfectly..


  13. Can have anything with this sambar,definitely a fingerlicking side dish.

  14. Mmmm...flavorful and aromatic samabr...looks appealing n tempting!!

  15. Sambar looks totally delicious

  16. Aromatic, homestyle sambhar..Perfect with idlis!!
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  17. Yummy tiffin sambar...my fav recipe..

  18. Slurppppp.....its yummy :)

  19. very flavourful and delicious sambhar..

  20. Different version of sambar looks delicious.

  21. Yummy looking sambar.. me too love sambar with moong dhal....

  22. Hi jeyashree I made this..it came out yummy...thanks.it s very tasty.

  23. Hi Jeyashri,

    I prepared this dish with Toor dal this morning. This came out well & it was simply delicious with vada. My hubby complimented me alot for this, which i wanted to share with you.

    1. that's great to know. Thank you so much for trying out

  24. Thanks for this recipe, I tried and it came out really tasty.

  25. Excellent Presentation. I am very new to cooking, just followed the ratios mentioned in this blog, it came up very well... Thankyou very much.
    Kindly continue this fantastic help.


  26. Hi Jeyashri, I was lucky enough to live in the home of an older Sourashtra couple in Madurai off and on for a couple of years. I grew especially fond of Kanchana Ma, the kind, patient lady of the house. I'm back in the US now, and today I've been thinking of her a lot and missing her. I am partial to one of the sambars she would make, and this one is similar to hers (moong dal, no chunks of veggies bobbing around). Thank you so much for posting this recipe! My roommate has asked me to make it tomorrow, so she's happy as well. Your blog looks great and I'm sure I'll be visiting it again.


  27. Can you post the recipe of sambar which is made in restaurants to go with idly and dosai.

  28. Hope it will tasty, I am going to try today. Thanks for the receipe.

  29. hi jaishree,
    i came US last month..basically i luv cookin and while searchin fr varieties i saw ur blog.. it was too good.. i have tried many dishes from ur blog.. tday i tried ur tiffn sambar with onion rava uthappa,.. it was delicious.. my husband lovd it.. and i have tried ur mushroom pulao with palak kofta gravy... keep posting.. -Yurekha

  30. Hi how many red chillies should I use for grinding??

  31. Hi vandana i used 2 red chilies mentioned in the ingredients list too

  32. Helo jaisree.. thanks a lot for the recipe, its a big help for me to learn indian cookings becouse my husbnd is indian so its really a joy for me to cook something that he love to eat.. thanks again :)

  33. Mam the above recipe for how many persons.