Vendakai sambar – lady finger sauce

Vendakai sambar – lady finger sauce

Sambar is a popular type of hot vegetable sauce prepared on the basis of tur daal (pigeon pea), in the southern states of India – especially in Tamil Nadu.

Vendakai in Tamil meansr, or lady finger, a popular vegetable throughout India – and more recently in Europe, especially due to its specific throat and respiratory healing abilities. The seeds contained in the fruits of this plant ripen in a gelatinous substance, which – if you just boil it – will remind soap.

And here is the whole mystery

How to prepare lady finger, that it would be really tasty.

In short, the secret includes roasting spices – fenugreek seeds and mustard seeds – and a short but intense roasting of chopped lady finger along with these spices. If, after this process, we add a little of the water, the soapy healing substance contained in the vegetable will dissolve into the sauce and blend in well with the bitter spices.

tur daal (pigeon pea)1/3 cup
lady finger - vendakai10 pieces
optional: any vegetebles potato/ string-bean/ carrot/cauliflower...not more than 150g
onion2 middle pieces
tomato1 middle
grated garlic5 pieces
curry leaves1 branch
tamarind/kokum2 cm big
turmeric powder2 teaspoon
jaggery/sugar1 or 2 spoon
fenugreek seeds1/2 teaspoon
mustard seeds1 teaspoon
kumin seeeds1/2 teasoon
urad daal (black gram)1 teaspoon
dry red chili4 pieces
asafoteida1/2 teaspoon
saltto taste
oil for frying3 spoon
corianderfew branches


  • Sambar should be spicy, I recommend the alternative addition of a small amount of jaggery or sugar – a thundering effect.
  • Tamarind or kokum can be replaced with juice from a half of lime or lemon, or give instead two small tomatoes more.
  • For its preparation are used any – non sour- vegetables popular in the south.


  1. Turn Daal (pigeon pea) rinse, soak for 20 minutes.
  2. After boil in fresh water without salt, adding garlic and a teaspoon of turmeric. Cook 30 minutes under cover.
  3. If you intend to add other vegetables, cut them into striations or cubes and add after 15 minutes of cooking. Cook together for 15 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Wash the lady finger, clean and cut into rings or stripes. Indians usually cut it longitudinally into stripes.
  5. Cut onions into thin slices, tomato into small cubes.
  6. Tamarind or kokam soak in a small amount of water, or prepare juice from half a lime. If not use more tomatos.
  7. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil on a large pan or wok. Put the seeds of fenugreek  and fry for about 10 seconds while stirring.
  8. Then add the mustard seeds to fry for about 10 seconds. Seeds should change color, but make sure they do not burn.
  9. Now put the prepared lady finger, mix with spices, add salt and fry on medium heat, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes. Okra should be golden-brown in places.
  10. Now increase the fire, add a glass of water, mix and bring to a boil. Cook intensively for 2 minutes and then put aside under the cover.
  11. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, add the seeds of kumin and urad daal (black gram). Fry for a few seconds, then add curry leaves and dried red chili peppers. Fry for a few more seconds until the peppers catch the temperature and change the color. Mix the leaves, urad and kumin and rotate the peppers to not burn. At the end, add asafoteida, mix and fry for a few seconds more.
  12. Now add chopped onion, mix with spices. Stirring frequently to a transparent color.
  13. Then add the chopped tomato and salt, mix and fry for 2 more minutes until the tomato sauce apears.
  14. Now add a fried lady finger, 1 teaspoon of turmeric and 3 glasses of water, cook for 10 minutes.
  15. Now add a drained extract of pressed tamarind or kokam fruit, bring to a boil and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes.
  16. Then add the daal, mix it, taste it and add salt if needed. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  17. At the end add chopped coriander.

Serve with rice or any fried bread.

Bon Apetit!

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