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 (240g)
  • Yellow onion icon
    Yellow onion
    1 (140g)
  • Cilantro icon
    2 tbsp (4g)
  • Toor dal icon
    Toor dal
    about ½ cup (120g)
  • Water icon
    4.5 cups (1080ml)
  • Sugar icon
    4.5 tsp (19g)
  • Salt icon
    1 tsp (6g)
  • Ground turmeric icon
    Ground turmeric
    1 tsp (2g)
  • Cayenne pepper icon
    Cayenne pepper
    about ½ tsp (1g)
  • Sambar powder icon
    Sambar powder
    about ½ cup (120g)
  • Frozen pearl onions icon
    Frozen pearl onions
    about ½ cup (120g)
  • Frozen green beans icon
    Frozen green beans
    about ½ cup (60g)
  • Tamarind paste icon
    Tamarind paste
    1 tbsp (16g)
  • Ghee icon
    1 tbsp (14g)
  • Mustard seeds icon
    Mustard seeds
    1 tsp (4g)
  • Dried chilies icon
    Dried chilies
  • Curry leaves icon
    Curry leaves


  • 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. Quick release
  7. Blend with stick blender until smooth
  8. Add water, frozen pearl onions, frozen green beans and tamarind paste to the inner pot
  9. Cancel - Keep warm
  10. Close and lock the lid and turn the steam release handle to Sealing
  11. Pressure cook - Manual, High, 2 min
  12. Quick release
  13. Add ghee to a clean medium cast iron skillet
  14. Heat - medium-high heat
  15. Add mustard seeds, dried chilies and curry leaves to the medium cast iron skillet
  16. Cook without stirring - approx 30 sec
  17. Transfer content of medium cast iron skillet to inner pot
  18. Mix well
  19. Cancel - Keep warm
  20. Divide content of inner pot between 4 medium bowls
  21. Garnish with cilantro
  22. Serve
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