This Instant Pot masoor dal sambar with okra is an extremely satisfying, healthy and hearty vegan soup. Beaming with intriguing flavor and texture, this is a comfort dish like no other.
Whenever South Indian style sambar is on the menu, it is always served spicy hot and steaming hot. So when we ask each other, is it hot?
The answer is always yes. To both. Temperature and spice level, every time.
That’s one of the reasons we love to pressure cook sambar in our Instant Pot. Because it ensures sambar will be especially hot when serving!
Content in this Post
Ingredients in Masoor Dal Sambar
- Masoor Dal — red lentils are quick cooking, inexpensive and a flavorful dal to use in sambar. You can use toor dal (pigeon peas) instead, or a combination of both masoor and toor dal. We were out of toor dal, so we used all masoor dal and really love it this way! So if you don’t have toor dal, no problem.
- Red Onions — diced red onions, or use yellow or white onion.
- Carrots — we like to cut our carrots in rounds for sambar.
- Okra — we use frozen pre-sliced okra for convenience.
- Green Beans — long beans, also frozen but you can use fresh.
- Tomatoes — 2 tomatoes, diced.
- Tomato Paste — If you are using tomatoes, you don’t need to add tomato paste, but I like to add some anyway. It’s a personal preference but you can omit if you prefer.
- Garlic — 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or sliced.
- Sambar Masala — You can use homemade sambar masala or store bought for convenience.
- Curry Leaves — fresh curry leaves, we keep ours in our freezer so they last longer.
- Cumin Seeds — use whole cumin seeds.
- Mustard Seeds — use whole black mustard seeds.
- Chili Pepper — 1-2 green chilis for mild to medium spice level, use 3 if you like it spicy hot.
- Oil — We use avocado oil.
- Tamarind paste — or lemon juice if you like to add some after cooking, you can stir in a tablespoon of either tamarind paste or lemon juice. I didn’t do it this time, because we are out of tamarind, but it was still really good.
- Moringa (drumsticks) — we didn’t have any this time, but if you have moringa you can include some (about 8), otherwise you can leave them out.
- Hot Sauce — Not shown in our mise above, but we sometimes add a few shakes of cayenne hot sauce such as Franks Red Hot, or a half teaspoon or so of cayenne pepper. This depends on how spicy your brand of sambar masala is. It is likely spicy enough, so you might want to wait until after cooking to assess if you would like to add hot sauce or cayenne powder.
Health Benefits of Masoor Dal Sambar with Okra
Red lentils (masoor dal) are rich in protein, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. Red lentils provide calcium, potassium and are a good source of iron.
Okra is high in vitamin C and vitamin K, while being low in calories. It is high in antioxidants and fiber.
Kitchen Tools Needed for Masoor Dal Sambar
We use our to make this sambar. You could use a 3 quart but you would need to scale the recipe down to ensure you don’t over fill.
What to Serve With Instant Pot Masoor Dal Sambar
Masoor dal sambar with okra is traditionally served with idli or dosa or with basmati rice.
Masala dosa filling, such as potato masala with beets is an excellent choice to go with sambar.
Serve with homemade or store bought chutneys such as cilantro chutney or coconut chutney.
I find my favorite chutneys in the freezer section of my local Indian grocery store. I just love having some in my freezer at all times to easily thaw out and enjoy!
I like to serve sambar with eggplant curry with bell peppers. If you are interested in another vegan curry to go with sambar, give this a try!
You can keep cooked sambar in an air tight container in the fridge for about three days.
Sambar can be frozen in a freezer safe, air tight container and keeps well for several months.
Keep your ingredients for sambar on hand to make this any time.
You can store shelf stable dried red lentils or pigeon peas for a year. Sambar masala, cumin seeds and mustard seeds can be stored in an air tight spice jars or mason jars for several months.
Keep moringa (drumsticks), curry leaves, garlic, green beans and okra in your freezer.
Then all you need is common ingredients like tomatoes, onions and carrots that you are likely to have on hand.
Time Saving Tips
Are you lucky enough to have some leftover bhindi masala okra curry?
If you’ve recently made bhindi masala you can just add it to your sambar to make this flavorful soup even faster!
It’s so easy when the okra has already been stir fried.
I make this combo all of the time. While the Instant Pots are cycling, I fry dosa on the stove top and thaw out the frozen chutneys. It all comes together so quick and easy!
Alternatively, you could cook one or both of these on the stove top or in a crock pot, if you don’t have pressure cookers. The important thing is to time it right, so it will all be ready to eat when you need it!
But I really find the Instant Pots to be super easy and convenient to use. I constantly use our two Instant Pots every day for our busy family of seven.
If you have a large family or would like to make more food fast, read about the benefits of owning two Instant Pots!
More Sambar Recipes
I love changing our sambar recipes each time for variety. It’s nice to use the vegetables you have on hand to make interesting combinations.
You can use your favorite veggies and sambar is always fabulous with any you choose!
Instant Pot Masoor Dal Sambar With Okra
- 2 tablespoons Avocado Oil
- 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
- 1.5 teaspoons Mustard Seeds
- 2 Green Chili Peppers, finely chopped
- 20 Curry Leaves
- 3 Garlic Cloves, minced or sliced
- 1 Red Onion, chopped
- 1.5 cup Red Lentils, masoor dal, rinsed and drained
- 2 Tomatoes, diced
- 2 Carrots, ½ inch rounds
- 1 cup Long Beans, 1 inch sticks
- 2 tablespoons Sambar Masala
- 8 cups Water
- ¼ cup Tomato Paste
- 3 Cups Okra, Sliced
- Add avocado oil to instant pot and press sauté.
- Rinse the masoor dal (red lentils) and set aside.
- When the instant pot reads "HOT" add the cumin and mustard seeds, green chilis and curry leaves. Sauté for 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and chopped onion to the pot. Sauté for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add red lentils, carrots, tomatoes, green beans and sambar masala.
- Add water and mix ingredients. Place the tomato paste on top of the mixed ingredients. Do not stir the tomato paste.
- Close the lid on the instant pot, set the pressure valve to sealing and pressure cook on high pressure, normal temperature for 8 minutes. Quick release when done.
Okra Stir Fry on Stove Top While Instant Pot Cooks Sambar
- While the sambar is cooking in the Instant Pot, you can stir fry your okra on the stove top. You can keep it plain, just stir fry the okra in a little avocado oil. Or you can follow the recipe for bhindi masala for even more flavor. Either way, it will be really good! You will need to fry it on medium high heat for at least 8 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
- Stir the cooked okra into the Instant Pot sambar. Pour into individual bowls. Serve with idli, dosa or basmati rice and chutneys.
The above nutritional values are estimates and should only be used as a guide. If you are following a specific diet or have dietary restrictions, please use your preferred nutritional calculator. If you have a food allergy please ensure that none of the listed ingredients are part of your restrictions. As well, always use a food thermometer to ensure safe cooking temperature of the food items.