Travelling South to the ‘Maharashtra’ Lentil Curry (South Indian Sambar)



An old folk’s tale, has it, that the sambar recipe was an accidental find when the son of a royal Maratha ruler cooked Dhal while his chef was away. He added tamarind to the recipe which was not an ingredient used to make dhal. Today there are several versions of sambar.

If you are familiar with cooking sambar you will know that lentils like ‘Toor dhal’ is boiled and simmered with vegetables. I usually use any leftover vegetables and tamarind, of course, to make sambar. The big nutrient names attached to Toor dhal, are carbohydrates, plant proteins, and fibre. It is nutritious.


It however gets tricky for managing blood glucose levels when having sambar in combination with rice and potato, which are also popular staples that go with sambar. Hence, the challenge would be to portion out sambar, rice and potato and add other ingredients such as a good serve of vegetables that provide very little carbohydrates as well as a serve of chicken, fish or perhaps tofu for a vegan option to further bulk up the meal.


A version of my sambar has ingredients in these amounts for a single serve

· ½ cup sambar

· ½ medium potato (optional)

· Tamarind (sour) and salt to taste

· (I usually stir-fry spices, garlic and onion in EVOO and add them in for an authentic taste)

· 1 cup cauliflower and broccoli florets (simmered in sambar)

· ½ cup carrots (simmered in sambar)

· ½ cup ice berg leaves (added to sambar just before serving)

· Served with ½ cup cooked basmati rice (wholegrain basmati would add some fibre to the meal) and chicken peratal (masala)


As much as we love the combination of sambar with rice and potato. It is Important to manage the overall load/serving size of these foods combined, to best control blood glucose spikes after a meal in Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Most Indian recipes contain a few carbohydrate options within a meal and with reasonable respect to the cultural flavour and consideration to possible health outcomes, specific recipe modifications are necessary on an individual level.