Lentil Sambar

From Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites. This can be served as a side dish, or as a veggie-licious main dish. Goes well with rice and yogurt garnish.


  • 1 c dried lentils
  • 3 c water
  • 1 onion
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 t canola oil
  • 1 t mustard seeds
  • 1/2 t fenugreek seeds
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • 1 t turmeric
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t coriander
  • 1/4 t cayenne
  • 1 fresh green chile, minced, seeds removed
  • 1 T tamarind concentrate, dissolved in 1 cup hot water
  • 1 t salt
  • 2-3 T minced fresh cilantro


  1. Rinse the lentils, put them in a small saucepan with the 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.
  2. While the lentils are cooking chop the onion, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and bell peppers into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan, heat oil on high heat and saute the mustard, fenugreek, and cumin seeds on medium heat, covering the pot and shaking it occasionally to prevent burning. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, stir in the turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, and chopped chile and saute for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in the tamarind liquid, add the onions, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, and salt and combine. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the bell peppers, cover and continue to cook for another 5 minutes until everything is tender.
  6. Drain the cooked lentils and stir them in the vegetable mixture. Reheat if necessary, and stir in the cilantro.
  7. Ladle over basmati rice and serve with a large dollop of thick yogurt.

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