Bangalore Sambar with Toor Dal and Lima Beans

Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
toor dal and lima bean sambar

Sambars have been an ideal meal solution these days, especially those made with earthy toor dal and sweet tangy tamarind. Warming and satisfying, I took refuge from the bitter cold hovering over a bowl of this sambar that featured as the main course of the meal. This time, I added some cooked lima beans to the creamy toor dal for some meaty texture and seasoned it with my favorite south Indian spices. A little unconventional I suppose, but very authentic tasting with the more traditional spicing.

It all came together just right in very little time at all. Because this sambar is more filling and substantial than most of the sambars I am accustomed to, very little is needed to complete the meal. Serve the sambar with a vegetable side, some basmati rice and some savory Indian flat breads if you please. The dining experience would be enhanced with a soupy rasam served as a first course.

Note: sambar powder, along with the other ingredients in this recipe, is easily available at any Indian grocer, but you can make your own fresh spice blend from scratch using this recipe.

Bangalore Sambar with Toor Dal and Lima BeansBangalore Sambar with Toor Dal and Lima Beans
Recipe by
Cuisine: South Indian
Published on March 10, 2015

Plump tender lima beans simmered in a traditional tangy and spicy south Indian curry

Print this recipePrint this recipe

  • 1/3 cup dried lima beans (1 cup cooked)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 3/4 cup toor dal, rinsed
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 medium potato, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon split skinned urad dal, rinsed
  • 3 dried whole red chilies, broken into pieces
  • handful of dried curry leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafetida
  • 2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons sambar powder
  • 1 medium tomato, partially seeded
  • 2 fresh red or green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup dried unsweetened grated coconut
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
  • Rinse the lima beans and soak for 8 hours or overnight in several inches of water. Drain and rinse then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until tender but not falling apart — 35 to 40 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  • Meanwhile, soak the tamarind paste in 1 cup of hot water for 30 minutes.

  • Place the toor dal in a large saucepan and add 3 cups of water and the turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the dal begins to break apart — about 40 minutes. If desired, whisk the cooled dal for a creamier texture.

  • Now add the potato, tamarind paste and its soaking water, and the cooked lima beans. Pour in another cup of water and simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally, adding more water as needed.

  • Heat the ghee or oil in a small frying pan or saucepan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, ural dal, dried chilies and curry leaves. Stir and fry until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Add the asafetida, stir once, and then add the ground coriander and sambar powder and stir for another 30 seconds. Add the tomato, fresh chilies, coconut and salt. Simmer until the mixture is thickened — about 5 minutes. Transfer to the cooked sambar, stir, and cover. Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

  • Serve hot over fresh cooked white rice, garnished with chopped cilantro if desired. Alongside your favorite Indian flat bread you have a complete and satisfying meal.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Bangalore Sambar

Other sambars to enjoy from my kitchen:
Vegetable Coconut Sambar
Tamarind Sambar
Black-Eyed Pea and Mung Bean Sambar
Drumstick Sambar with Seared Eggplant

On the top of the reading stack: Super Paleo Snacks: 100 Delicious Low-Glycemic, Gluten-Free Snacks That Will Make Living Your Paleo Lifestyle Simple & Satisfying

Audio Accompaniment: Marsen Jules


Joanne said...

I need to get back into my Indian cooking endeavors! This sounds like just the thing to get started.

Nancy said...

Lisa, something went wrong when I made this. It was way too soupy. I reread the recipe and as far as I can tell did everything right. You call for a handful of dried curry leaves but I don't see where to add them in the recipe. I guess I'm just confused on the last paragraph of the recipe. Help! (it tastes really good)

Lisa Turner said...

Hi Nancy. Oops about forgetting when to add the curry leaves. Adjusted. Sorry about that. If you don't want this dish as soupy, reduce the amount of water. I have thought about this and made adjustments in that regard too. With the potatoes to fill it out, I didn't find it too soupy, but everyone has their own preferences. Best, Lisa