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Instant Pot Sambar recipe

Instant Pot Sambar | Thick Sambar recipe

Instant Pot Sambar recipe for a thick, creamy restaurant-style sambar made using Instant Pot. Loaded with protein from lentils and spiked with spice powder this south Indian vegetable stew is the best with rice, dosas, and idlis!
Course Curries, Main Course
Cuisine South Indian
Keyword stew
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Calories 251kcal
Author Niveditha


  • Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker)



Prep work:

  • Add the split peas with 3 cups of water to the Instant Pot. Close with lid and SEAL it. Set the Instant Pot to PRESSURE COOK mode for 10 minutes. After cook time, Quick Release and open the lid. Using a potato masher, mash down the lentils. Transfer it to another bowl and wash the Instant Pot Bowl.
  • Wash the Drumsticks and chop them up into 2-inch pieces, removing the extra fibrous layers as you go.
  • Wash the peeled shallots. Halve them if they're medium or large szed. Slit the green chilli.

Making the Sambar:

  • Set the Instant Pot to SAUTÉ mode for 15 minutes. Add the oil to it and let it get hot.
  • Add the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumins seeds and let it all splutter. about a few seconds. Careful not to burn the fenugreek.
  • Tip in the green chilli, curry leaves and shallots. Sauté until the onions look translucent.
  • Now, add the tomato and the salt. Sauté until it becomes mushy.
  • Add the chopped drumsticks and sauté for a few minutes.
  • Add the turmeric powder, asafoetida powder and the Sambar Powder. Mix it through to coat everythign.
  • Immediately add 2 cups of water and the tamarind paste. Close the Instant Pot with its lid and SEAL it. Set it to Pressure Cook mode for 6 minutes.*
  • Once done, Quick Release and open the Instant Pot. Give it a quick mix and garnish with Cilantro leaves.
  • Serve hot with rice or dosas!


  • I use a 6-quart Instant Pot. Cook time may vary for other models/sizes.
  • A good sambar needs almost smooth lentils as a base. So it is important that you cook and mash them.
  • The cook time is for fresh Drumsticks, i.e. fresh from the tree. If you're using any storebought drumstick that was harvested 2 days before or more, increase the sambar's cook time to 10 minutes instead of 6 minutes.
  • If you prefer a sweetish sambar, add 1 carrot along with the drumsticks. Carrots will add a sweet taste to the sambar.
  • If you're new to Sambar, you can halve the number of spices like mustard seeds, fenugreek, cumin, turmeric, asafoetida, and sambar powder. 
  • If you want a less spicy sambar, go with 1 tsp Sambar powder and you might wanna skip adding the slit chilies. If you like a spicier sambar, add up to 3 tsp Sambar powder.


Serving: 1serving | Sodium: 300mg | Sugar: 3.4g | Fiber: 10.1g | Calories: 251kcal | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 5.9g | Fat: 8.4g | Protein: 11.1g | Carbohydrates: 36.4g