Tangy Lentils with Mustard and Curry Leaves

Serves 4


  • 225g/8oz yellow split lentils (toor or tuvar daal)
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 carrot, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 115g/4oz green beans, fresh or frozen, cut into 2.5cm/1 in pieces
  • 1½ tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1-4 dried red chillies, broken up
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsps tamarind juice or ½ teaspoon tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tbsps coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped

This is a superb lentil dish known as ‘Sambar’ which can be served with plain boiled basmati rice or with its traditional partner, Steamed Rice Dumplings (Idlis). You can use any vegetable combination of your choice. Diced aubergine on its own makes an excellent choice.


Wash the lentils in several changes of water, place in a saucepan and add the turmeric and 1.1 litre (2 pint) water. Bring it to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes or until all the foam subsides. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes.

Add the vegetables and salt, re-cover and continue to cook for a further 10-15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, Pre-heat a small cast iron or other heavy pan or skillet over medium heat. Add all the whole spices and reduce the heat to low. Stir and roast them until they begin to release their aroma (30 seconds-1 minute). Remove them from the pan, cool and grind until fine in a coffee or spice mill.

Add the spice mix to the lentils followed by the tamarind. If you are using tamarind concentrate, stir until it is dissolved.

Add the coriander leaves, remove from the heat and serve.