Tenga Sambar

BM# 98: Week 2, Day 1
Theme : Dish for each meal

Planning a day to day menu doesn’t come easily for me, yet it’s a quality that comes naturally to many. I tend to repeat recipes I like and many a day, it’s a combination of rice, sambar and a vegetable on the side. I have started switching rice with quinoa a lot. The kind of sambar and the veggies also keep changing, but the structure of the meal is essentially the same.

Funny fact is that despite the heavy rotation, these recipes are our favorites – What one could call comfort food. I prefer dal sambar over all else, so does my husband, but today I am going to introduce you to one of my mother’s oft repeated recipe.

Back at my house, we have coconut trees in our yard and so our cuisine uses it heavily. Combine it with the fact that my dad doesn’t like dals (he claims it gives him gas), coconut based gravies are the way you to go. I guess my mother gave up her preference of dal sambar to accommodate my dad’s wishes and also to save her from cooking different dishes for everyone.

To make a coconut based sambar, usually the spice mix is prepared fresh. You have to roast coriander seeds and red chilies first and then grind with roasted or plain coconut to make a paste. This paste is the flavor imparting base. My mother had developed a short cut, she would grind the coconut and her homemade sambar powder to make the paste. Her point was sambar powder is already made at home, why make another tiny batch just for one dish?! Well, I agree with her. It may not taste exactly like the freshly made paste, but this one is tasty as well and extremely easy to make. That’s definitely a bonus for anyone who likes to cut out extra work 😬

Read on for the recipe.


  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 1 tablespoon sambar powder
  • 4-5 small eggplant or another vegetable of your choice, diced into big chunks
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
  • 1 diced tomato, optional
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies
  • 3-4 pearl onions

Grind half cup grated coconut with one tablespoon of sambar powder to make a smooth paste. You might have to add a little water to help with the grinding.
Heat 3 cups of water in a thick pan. Add 4-5 diced small eggplants and a teaspoon of tamarind paste to it. Let the egg plants cook completely. Now add the ground coconut paste with salt as needed (I add a little less than a teaspoon). Bring it to a boil.

If preferred, add a chopped tomato as well to the sambar. let it simmer and keep cooking until its a little thick. If the sambar is too thin, you can make a lumpfree paste of rice flour or wheat flour with a little water (1 heaped tablespoon flour to 4 tablespoons of water would do) and add it to the sambar. let it come to a boil and cook off the raw flour. Taste test and turn off the heat. For the tadka, heat a teaspoon of coconut oil. Add half a teaspoon of mustard seeds and 1-2 dried red chillies. once the mustard crackles, add 3-4 diced pearl onions. Saute until its cooked.

Add the tadka to the sambar. Add some freshly chopped coriander leaves. Mix everything well and serve hot with rice and a vegetable on the side.


Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#97


7 thoughts on “Tenga Sambar

  1. Interesting recipe of Sambhar without dal.. love the flavours that have gone in this comforting bowl. I will love to have this with steamed rice!!


  2. Wow a sambar without dal , awesome. Even my mom has issues with dal at times, and I think she would love this recipe. Tempting.


  3. Wow, sambar without dal – that is very interesting. It still looks so thick and delicious. Love the idea of grinding sambar powder with coconut – I am sure it adds flavor to the dish. I am going to try this one for my family.


  4. This was one of the recipes I made frequently. I love to add coconut in all my gravies. It gives a wonderful flavor as well as creaminess. I am with your mom on that short cut. When coming to make a tiny batch of spice powder, I always feel lazy and end up using the sambar powder instead.


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