Beetroot Sambar - Beets and lentils

Sambhar is the staple food in any Tamilian household, and I’m sure many other South Indian households too. It’s a balance of protein from lentils, vitamins from the vegetables, calcium and potassium from tamarind. It is served with rice and a dry vegetable curry.
Many a people have this misconception that there is just one sambhar. However, a true blue Tamilian will beg to differ. There are sambhars that differ due to the kind of veggies used and due to the method of preparation. Vegetables that can be used in a Sambhar – Madras onions (most popular, carrots, okra, Pumpkin, Radish, Sweet Potato, Potato, Drumsticks)
Greens like spinach, fenugreek leaves, sprouted pulses

As a kid, I would love messing my hands with the peel when my grandmom used to be busy chopping beets up. I would also love the natural red blush-on effect when the peel was rubbed on the cheeks -was probably discovering organic make-up in those days by doing so- :D

I’m not too fond of the vague sweet taste, almost a metallic kind of taste in the beetroots that we get here. There are only two ways I can eat this vegetable, one is to grate some parts of it into a spicy curry-where it imparts a brilliant colour without imparting much of its taste, and the other is in a beetroot sambar.


¾ cup toor dal (yellow lentils)
2 medium sized beetroots pressure cooked yet firm and skins removed with a tug
1 ½ T sambhar powder
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 lemon sized ball tamarind-soaked in water –extract obtained / 1 T tamarind paste
1 pinch asafoetida

Beetroot sambhar in a traditional 'vengala chatti'


Pressure cook the dal with a pinch of turmeric and asafoetida after rinsing thoroughly.Chop the cooked beets into thick slices and then quarter them.
Heat some oil in a pot. Pop the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves.
Add the cooked chopped beets, sauté around for 3-4 minutes.
Put the cooked dal, and tamarind extract into the pot and let simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the sambhar powder, salt, and boil for 3 minutes.
Season with salt. Simmer for 2 minutes and take the pot off the heat

Serve with steamed rice dotted with ghee .

This recipe is rich in anti-oxidants and iron. This one goes for Kalyn's WHB and a delayed entry for Anthony's curry Mela if he will take it up this time that is !


Kalyn said...

I love learning about new dishes like this and Sambhar is something I didn't know about. I'm guessing I would like this a lot because I love the taste of tamarind.

starry nights said...

Never had Beetroot in sambar before. going to try it. thanks for sharing and the pics are just beautiful

Vaishali said...

Beetroot in Sambar? Never ever heard of it. All the more reason for me to try it out. :) I anyway like experimenting with beetroot. I have bookmarked this one for me now.

Nandita said...

Hey Kalyn- I'm sure you will love this, the tartness of tamarind is perfectly complimented by the sweetness of the beets-adding lentils just makes it so much wholesome

SN & Vaishali- Let me know how you found it !!

Anonymous said...

Love beetroot sambhar, my all time favorite! Goes well with rice and podi :)

Which cook books are those in the pictures?

Anonymous said...

Is sambhar same as parappu? If not, how do they differ?

Nandita said...

The cookbooks are 'samaithu paar' by meenakshi ammal- which is translated in english to Cook and See. The recipe is not from that book though, but kept it around as those books teach authentic tamil cuisine

Sambhar HAS paruppu in it- but is not the same as paruppu, paruppu means just dal and sambhar has many more ingredients in it than just dal!

Inji Pennu said...

Whats vengala chatti?

Nandita said...

it's an Iron pot- cooking in it is supposed to enhance iron content of food- food like keerai masiyal ( mashed spinach), sambhar etc are made in this traditional vessel

Ramya said...

Nandita ! a small correction

வெங்கல சட்டி or vengala chatti refers not iron pot but alloy pot
I think that it is brass.Your beetroot sambhar is really interesting.

Nandita said...

You could be right there Ramya! But this pot is iron and not brass :)

Foodie's Hope said...

Beet sambar!! Never tried this before.I have some bottled beets in vinegar in my fridge.May be it will work.I will let you know.

Bharath said...

Hi folks!

Vengalam is bronze (Sanskrit/Tamil), and utensils made of bronze are awesome if you want the heat to spread uniformly. Due to heavy construction (it is difficult to make into thin shapes) it has a high thermal mass.

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