hotel-style tiffin sambar recipe for idli, dosa, upma & more | vegan indian recipes | indian vegetarian recipe by foodomania

Hotel-style Tiffin Sambar for Idli, Dosa

  • Author: Kavitha Ramaswamy
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Diet: Vegan


Make this delicious and quick one-pot tiffin sambar the way most Indian restaurants and hotels do! This vegetarian recipe is a perfect side dish for idli, dosa, upma & more!



For the Gravy Base: *

  • 1 Tbsp Chana Dal
  • 1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp Black Peppercorn
  • 1 Tbsp Poppy Seeds
  • 24 Dry Red Chili (adjust based on spice required)
  • 1/4 cup Fresh or Desiccated Coconut
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup Water

For the Sambar:

  • 1 Tbsp Veg Oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Chana Dal
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds or Jeera
  • 1/2 tsp Hing or Asafetida powder
  • Handful of Curry Leaves
  • 23 cups roughly Chopped Vegetables *
  • 1 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric Powder (haldi)
  • 1 tsp Sambar Powder
  • 1 small Tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup Toor dal, washed & soaked for 1 hour
  • 1 cup diluted Tamarind Water *
  • 3 cups Water
  • Cilantro or Coriander leaves for garnish


  • Gravy Base: This usually makes enough for more than 1 portion of this sambar. You can freeze it and use it within a few weeks
  • Gravy Base substitute: If you don’t want to make the base, you can substitute with 1-2 Tbsp of Sambar Powder
  • Vegetables: Onion, Carrots, Squash, Bell Peppers, Radish etc. Don’t use veggies like eggplant, drumstick or moringa beans (murungakkai), they will disintegrate in a pressure cooker
  • Tamarind Water: 1 lemon sized ball of tamarind, soaked in 1 cup water, then extract the pulp. OR use 1-2 tsp of Tamarind Extract with 1 cup Water


Making the Gravy Base:

  • Dry roast the chana dal, coriander seeds, peppercorn and poppy seeds for about a minute or until the mixture turns aromatic
  • Separately, dry roast the desiccated or fresh coconut and dry red chili for a minute or two
  • Add to a mini blender with some water and grind to a smooth paste
  • Your gravy base is ready, use as required

Making the Sambar:

  • Heat some oil in a pressure cooker
  • Add mustard seeds. When that splutters, add chana dal, cumin seeds, asafetida (hing) and curry leaves
  • Add the chopped veggies and salt and fry for a couple minutes to develop some color on them
  • Then add the turmeric powder, sambar powder, tomato and sauté for a couple minutes
  • Add the soaked Toor Dal, mix with the veggie mixture
  • Add the tamarind extract and water, the gravy base and adjust for seasoning and bring to a boil
  • Close the lid, add the whistle on, pressure cook for 10-12 whistles
  • Let the pressure release naturally
  • The mixture will have thickened, add a cup or two of water, adjust seasoning & bring to a boil
  • Finish off with a garnish of cilantro / coriander leaves
  • Your delicious hotel-style tiffin sambar is ready! Serve with rice, idli, dosa, upma etc.
  • Keep it refrigerated and consume within a week


  • The number of whistles can vary between 8 to 15, depending on your pressure cooker. Typically, 10 whistles should help cook the dal to a soft consistency, but you can always cook for more time if you need softer dal
  • Adjust the water depending on the consistency you want. If you’re serving with idli or dosa, you should go for a slightly thinner consistency
  • Gravy Base: Start by first adding half of the base, mix and taste for seasosning. If you need it spicier, then add the rest of the gravy base. If not, freeze to make a batch later

  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Pressure Cook
  • Cuisine: South Indian

Keywords: sambar, tiffin sambar, hotel-style sambar, idli sambar, dosa sambar, south indian recipes