Thoughts Sans Boundaries

Leftover pumpkin becomes pumpkin sambar (curry)

Posted in life by Aditya Moorthy on December 2, 2008

I had a big piece of pumpkin left, after the pumpkin soup that I made on Sunday. So, I decided to make pumpkin sambar and here is the recipe for it. For those of you who don’t know what sambar is, let me explain. It is a simple South Indian curry / gravy which is usually mixed with white rice and eaten with some vegetables on the side. For first timers it can be a bit daunting to make it, given the number of ingredients but take my word, it is worth the effort and you will soon become an addict like me. The good thing about South Indian sambar is that you can substitute it with any vegetable and it becomes a different sambar and the taste and fragrance is different as well. So, here is the ingredients list and the method.


1. Sambar powder – You should be able to get this in any Indian provision store – 2 tea spoons
2. Toor Dhal – Also known as Yellow Pigeon Peas – 1 cup
3. Mustard seeds – half a tea spoon
4. Pumpkin – 200-300 grams – cut in small pieces (1 cm cube approximately)
5. Canola / Sunflower oil – 3-4 table spoons
6. Tamarind – This normally sells in an Indian store in processed fleshy form – 1 cm cube
7. Salt
8. Red Chilli powder
9. Coriander leaves


Boil the toor dhal, preferably in a pressure cooker (I like it that way) or you can use an electric cooker as well. I boil it with the ratio of 1:3 water, that is, 1 cup dhal and 3 cups water. While you are boiling the toor dhal, soak the fleshy tamarind in warm water and after a while, mash the tamarind so that all the essence of the tamarind comes out. Keep this aside for the time being and let it continue to soak. I would use about 250 ml of water for this.

In a wok, take pour 3-4 spoons of oil and add the mustard seeds. Heat the wok till the mustard seeds starts to burst. Add the pumpkin cubes and sambar powder and sautee it a bit. Then pour the tamarind water (use a filter so that the fleshy portion of the tamarind does not fall into the wok). Add salt and let it boil till the pumpkin is soft. Now take the toor dhal from the cooker and mash it nicely (make sure that it is fully boiled). Then add the dhal into the wok and allow it to boil for a little while (about 5-8 minutes). You can add red chilli powder if you like it spicy or alternatively you can add a little bit more sambar powder. Taste it to see if there is enough salt and sourness in it. It should not be sour but you should be able to feel the tingle in your toungue.

Switch off the heat and add the coriander leaves chopped into small pieces. Voila! the sambar is ready. You can eat this by mixing it with white rice and some cooked vegetables on the side. Baby mango pickle would go well with this as well. Try it and let me know your comments.

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