Palak sambar / soppina huli step-by-step recipe with video and photos.
What is sambar
Sambar is a South-Indian style dal made with toor dal (pigeon pea), tamarind, and an aromatic spice blend known as sambar powder. Sambar pairs well not just with steamed rice, but also with idli and dosa. This makes sambar an integral part of south Indian meals, be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner. A traditional sambar has a good proportion of dal, is made mostly with a single variety of vegetables, and is definitely made with homemade sambar powder.
Sambar made with green leafy vegetable
I have earlier shared recipes of sambar made with various vegetables like radish, chayote squash, and drumstick. This variation uses spinach or palak and is called 'soppina huli' in Kannada. 'Soppu' translates to green leafy vegetables. Soppina huli can be made with palak, menthe (methi/fenugreek), sabbasige (dill), or dantu/harive (amarath) - or a mix of any green leafy vegetables. This version of the sambar is really simple and is a one-pot dish. I also add brown chickpea to make palak sambar.
About homemade sambar powder
What sets sambar apart from a regular dal is the unique blend of freshly ground spices, known as sambar powder (or huli pudi in Kannada) that is added while making sambar.
The way sambar powder is made varies from state to state in south India. Not just within states, there are different versions of sambar powders in different regions of a state. Let us not forget that every household has its own favourite version of sambar powder. The sambar powder recipes are passed down from generation to generation.
Even though the main spices used to make sambar powder are the same, they are subtly different in quantities. Also, some versions call for adding more spices like cinnamon or cloves; some have coconut in them and some don’t.
Spinach/Palak: This sambar can be made with any green leafy vegetables. Here, I am using spinach/palak.
Toor dal: Sambar is made with toor dal/pigeon pea.
Brown chickpeas: I use soaked brown chickpea (kala chana in this sambar).
Sambar powder: I always use homemade sambar powder to make any sambar.
Coconut: I use freshly grated coconut in this dish, which I grind with sambar powder. You may replace fresh coconut with desiccated coconut, in which case grind it using warm water.
Onion and garlic: Both onion and garlic adds a very good flavour to this sambar.
Tomatoes: This is an optional ingredient but I highly recommend not to skip it.
Tamarind extract: The tangy taste of sambar comes from tamarind extract. Soak a small piece of tamarind in water for 20 minutes and extract the water. You may replace it with 1 tbsp tamarind pulp.
Ghee: I always use ghee in making any lentil dish, like dal, sambar, rasam. I highly recommend using ghee and not replacing it with oil.
Spices: Main spices I use to make the tempering are mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chilli, hing, and curry leaves.
Every household has its own version of making soppina huli. Here is my version. I make it by first pressure cooking toor dal, soaked brown chickpea, onion, tomato, and palak. I then grind sambar powder and fresh coconut together. I simmer this paste along with cooked dal and palak, tamarind pulp, jaggery, and salt. I then prepare a simple tempering (seasoning) in a generous amount of ghee and mix it with the sambar.
Palak sambar tastes great with steamed rice and any side dish of your choice. It can also be served with breakfast dishes like idli or dosa.
This palak sambar is absolutely wholesome. Honestly, I love to have a bowl of palak sambar just by itself.
This dish is a great way to include greens in your diet. Do give it a try.
Other sambar variations
Click here to make authentic Karnataka-style sambar powder.
Click here for more green leafy vegetables recipes.
This palak sambar is:
- delicious and nutritious
- good source of plant-based protein
- perfect with steamed rice
Step by step instructions
1. Pressure cook toor dal with chopped palak, brown chickpeas, onion, garlic, and tomato until completely done
2. Grind sambar powder and coconut into a smooth paste. Add it to the boiled dal along with salt, tamarind extract, and jaggery
3. Simmer the dal for 10-15 minutes
4. Prepare tempering (seasoning) in a small pan
5. Pour this tempering onto the sambar
FOR THE SAMBAR:
- 1 bunch spinach
- 2 tbsp sambar powder
- 1 cup pigeon pea (toor dal)
- ½ cup brown chickpea (kala chana)
- 1 small onion roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 small tomato roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp coconut fresh, grated
- A small piece tamarind
- A small piece jaggery
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 1 dry red chilli
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp urad dal (optional)
- 5-6 curry leaves
- A generous pinch asafoetida (hing)
- Soak brown chickpea in water for 1-2 hours
- Soak tamarind in ½ cup water for 15-20 minutes. Extract tamarind water and discard the pulp. Set aside
- Wash and clean the spinach. Roughly chop it
- Grind sambar powder and coconut into a smooth paste with some water. Set aside
- Wash toor dal. Pressure cook toor dal with chopped palak, brown chickpeas, onion, garlic, and tomato until completely done
- Add the ground paste, tamarind extract, jaggery and salt to the cooked dal. Add some water to adjust the consistency and bring to boil
- Simmer for 10-15 minutes
- In a small pan, heat ghee and add mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add cumin seeds, urad dal, dry red chilli, hing, and curry leaves. Saute for a few seconds
- Pour this tempering onto the sambar
- Serve hot
Click here to watch palak sambar web story.