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A pot is with sambar and topped with cilantro on the table
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4.84 from 6 votes

Instant Pot Sambar

Sambar is a popular and authentic dish from South India. Sambar is prepared with one or two vegetables and onion as an add-on. I am sharing the recipe for Sambar with potatoes and onions. 
Prep Time7 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time27 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Diet: Vegan
Allergen: Dairy free, Soy free
Difficulty: Easy
Servings: 5 people
Calories: 101kcal


  • 1 tablespoon Cooking Oil
  • ½ teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • 1 red chili
  • ½ teaspoon urad dal
  • 2 green chilies
  • 7 curry leaves
  • 1 red or white onions
  • 2 Tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 2 tablespoon sambar Powder
  • 2 red potatoes
  • 1 Carrot chopped
  • ¾ cup pigeon pea/toor dal
  • 2 ½ cup water
  • Salt to taste
  • ½ teaspoon tamarind concentrates or 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon jaggery or brown sugar


  • Add oil to the inner pot in your Instant Pot and press the saute option. When the oil is hot add mustard seeds and urad dal.
  • As the mustard seeds start to sputter, add curry leaves and green chilies and stir well for a minute. Add onions and continue to saute for at least a minute.
  • Now add tomatoes and let them soften up and then add potatoes. In about a minute, add turmeric and sambar powder and stir well for an even mixture.
  • Add toor dal, tamarind or lemon juice, jaggery, 2 ½ cup water, and salt.
  • Close the lid of the instant pot. Turn the steam release handle to sealing position. Press on Pressure cooking( high pressure) setting and set the timer for 6 minutes.
  • When time is up open the lid using the quick release option or you could also let it cool down naturally.
  • Garnish with cilantro and Sambar is ready!



  • Soak the toor dal for 30 minutes before using it in the recipe. This helps in getting the right texture for sambar. 
  • Try this recipe with red onions. White or the yellow kind is milder compared to the red version and hence will need more spices to support it. 
  • Add your choice of vegetables to the sambar recipe.
  • The addition of jaggery and tamarind pulp water is optional. But that’s what gives the authentic Udupi style taste. 
  • Use any type or brand of sambar powder. 
  • If you feel your sambar is light in color add Kashmiri red chili powder along with sambar powder. 
  • You could use split red lentils instead of split pigeon peas.
Note: The nutrition values I show here are my best estimates. Please be sure to check your preferred nutrition calculator, if you are reliant on accurate calculations in your diet. 


Calories: 101kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 86mg | Potassium: 509mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 469IU | Vitamin C: 44mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg