Instant Pot Sambhar Lentils With Tamarind Paste

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recipe by Urvashi Pitre

  • Time icon
    Total Time
  • Serves icon
  • Calories icon

The original recipe for this dish came to me from my friend Shubha Iyengar. Her family has been making it for generations for the temple where her maternal grandfather served as a priest. She was generous enough to coach me through making my own sambhar spice blend and then tolerated my tinkering with her recipe as I searched for ways to make it more efficient. You’re the lucky recipient of all this work, so I hope you enjoy this—along with lots of rice and ghee.

Inspired by:

recipe updated Feb 4, 2020


  • Canned diced tomatoes icon
    Canned diced tomatoes
    1 cup (about 240 g)
  • Yellow onion icon
    Yellow onion
    1 (about 140 g)
  • Cilantro icon
    2 tbsp (about 3.6 g)
  • Toor dal icon
    Toor dal
    ½ cup (about 120 g)
  • Water icon
    2 ½ cups (about 600 g)
  • Sugar icon
    1 ½ tbsp (about 19.12 g)
  • Salt icon
    1 tsp (about 6 g)
  • Ground turmeric icon
    Ground turmeric
    1 tsp (about 2.3 g)
  • Cayenne pepper icon
    Cayenne pepper
    ½ tsp (about 1.07 g)
  • Sambar powder icon
    Sambar powder
    ½ cup (about 120 g)
  • Frozen pearl onions icon
    Frozen pearl onions
    ½ cup (about 120 g)
  • Frozen green beans icon
    Frozen green beans
    ½ cup (about 60.5 g)
  • Tamarind paste icon
    Tamarind paste
    1 tbsp (about 16.5 g)
  • Ghee icon
    1 tbsp (about 14.4 g)
  • Mustard seeds icon
    Mustard seeds
    1 tsp (about 3.6 g)
  • Dried chilies icon
    Dried chilies
    2 (about 1 g)
  • Curry leaves icon
    Curry leaves
    4 (about 0.8 g)


  • kCook icon Wooden spoon
  • kCook icon Skillet pan
  • kCook icon Stick blender
  • kCook icon Instant Pot
  • kCook icon Medium bowl
  • kCook icon Inner pot
  • kCook icon Medium cast iron skillet

Step preview

  1. Add toor dal, water, canned diced tomatoes, yellow onion, sugar, salt, ground turmeric, cayenne pepper and sambar powder to the inner pot
  2. Stir until combined
  3. Close and lock the lid and turn the steam release handle to Sealing
  4. Pressure cook - Manual, High, 10 min
  5. Natural release - 10 min
  6. Release pressure -
  7. Blend with stick blender until smooth
  8. Add water, frozen pearl onions, frozen green beans and tamarind paste to the inner pot
  9. Close and lock the lid and turn the steam release handle to Sealing
  10. Pressure cook - Manual, High, 2 min
  11. Release pressure -
  12. Add ghee to a clean medium cast iron skillet
  13. Heat - medium-high heat
  14. Add mustard seeds, dried chilies and curry leaves to the medium cast iron skillet
  15. Cook without stirring - approx 30 sec
  16. Transfer content of medium cast iron skillet to inner pot
  17. Mix well
  18. Divide content of inner pot between 4 medium bowls
  19. Garnish with cilantro
  20. Serve
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