A versatile dish, it is a slightly sour-savory sauce made from tur dal, tamarind, and vegetables. The vegetables used can vary from cauliflower, potato, eggplant, etc.

Sambar is eaten with Idli’s and Dosa’s.


The combined crispness and nutty flavor of a dosa (a thin, large pancake confected from a batter of ground rice and urad dal) and the mildly spiced crushed potato and spice mixture inside (that’s the masala mixture).

Add pails of sauce that circulate in a typical South Indian cafeteria called sambar (a slightly sour-savory sauce made from tur dal, tamarind, and vegetables) and various wet chutney, including ones made with popped mustard seeds and ground coconut (white), chili/mint/coriander (green), and tur dal chutney (red).

How to eat a dosa: traditionally eaten with the right hand (as in all proper eating in India).  Grab a bit of thin pancake with the masala inside, scoop up a sambar and with your right thumb push it into your mouth. Of course you can always eat it with a fork.


Savory, steamed saucer-like cakes made from a batter of fermented black lentils and rice. The resulting IDLI is soft, almost fluffy, perhaps even like sponge cake. And, you guessed it, Idli is served with the side pails of sambar and wet chutney.

IDLI cakes are especially popular when served for breakfast in the morning. These cakes look very appealing with an unmistakable bouquet, specially after they are freshly steamed.

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