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Instant Pot Sambar (Indian Split Pigeon Pea and Vegetable Soup)

Instant Pot Sambar

Instant Pot Sambar (Indian Split Pigeon Pea and Vegetable Soup)

This tamarind flavored lentil and vegetable stew is a very popular South Indian dish. It almost always accompanies idli or dosa.
4.94 from 15 reviews
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Servings 4
Cuisine Indian



  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups chopped mixed vegetables* see notes below
  • 1 tomato chopped
  • ½ onion chopped into chunks
  • 1 teaspoon sugar or jaggery to taste
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste


  • Soak the split pigeon peas (toor dal) in cold water for 1 hour. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  • Press the sauté button, add the oil and allow it to heat up for a minute. Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Once the mustard seeds begin to splutter, add the curry leaves, garlic, ginger and spices. Stir, then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  • Secure the lid, close the pressure valve and cook for 10 minutes at high pressure.
  • Naturally release pressure for 15 minutes. Open the valve to release any remaining pressure.
  • Serve over rice or with idli or dosa.


  • *This dish is typically made with mixed vegetables like okra, eggplant, carrots, green beans, potatoes and drumsticks. You can find drumsticks, also known as moringa, in the frozen aisle of any Indian grocery store. When eating drumsticks, eat the pulpy inside and then discard the fibrous exterior (it's kind of like eating artichoke leaves).
  • To make roasted cumin powder: heat a skillet over low heat and dry roast cumin seeds (I usually do 1 cup) for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the color of the cumin changes to a dark brown. Turn off the heat and allow the cumin seeds to cool down. Place the cumin into a spice grinder and blend until smooth. Store in an airtight jar and use within 6-8 months for the most flavor.
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