Sambar rice/Sadham

Sambar Rice/Sambar Sadham

What is sambar rice/sadham?

Sambar Rice/Sadham is a protein packed, delicious, nutrient rich, healthy dish popular in South India. This favorite comfort dish is made with rice, lentils, mixed vegetables, spices and herbs.

Also known as Bisibelebath in some southern states of India, which when translated means “hot lentil rice”.

Sambar Rice/Sambar Sadham

What is sambar?

Sambar, is a lentil-based vegetable stew or chowder, cooked with lentils/dhal and tamarind broth. It is popular in South India especially in the state of Tamil-Nadu and is also popular among Sri Lankan cuisines.

Is it healthy?

High fibre foods are good for heart and cholesterol. The dhal based stew is high in vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, folate and magnesium. In addition to the lentils and vegetables, the eclectic mix of herbs and spices add to the many health benefits of sambar too

What is sadham?

‘Sadham’ is a Tamil (South Indian language) word for cooked rice.

Cooked rice refers to rice that has been cooked either by steaming or boiling. The terms steamed rice or boiled rice are also commonly used to represent sadham or cooked rice.. 

What do you eat with sambar rice?

Lace the Sambar Rice generously with ghee, and serve it piping hot with crisp papadam/Indian Rice crackers. You can also serve it with coconut chutney. Butter milk or lassi goes well with spicy sambar rice as as a side drink/beverage.

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Helpful Tips for making the best sambar rice

  • Rice : The popular choice of rice used in making sambar rice is the short grain white rice. However, if you prefer a healthier version brown rice could also be used to make sambar rice. Millets, quinoa, oats have also been used by some for the same health reasons. Soaking the grains prior to cooking, adds to their nutritious value.
  • Lentils : you could use just one type of lentil like Toor Dhal or use a mix of lentils like Toor and Moong dhal since they each add their nutritional value to the dish.
  • Sambar powder : One can use a homemade sambar powder or a good store bought one to make this aromatic and flavorful rice.
  • Vegetables : The most common vegetables used for sambar rice is drumsticks in South India.If using drumsticks, please cut them into 1 inch size pieces and pressure cook them with the dhal, so they are soft and absorb the flavors easily. Since drumsticks take a long time to cook, pressure cooking them with the lentils will make them easy to chew on .However, you may also use mixed vegetables like carrots, beans, tomatoes, onions for making sambar rice.
  • Tempering the curry leaves with ghee and then adding it to the sambar rice adds to the flavor.
  • If you have precooked rice and sambar, just add them together and Voila you have instant sambar rice ready to go!

Sambar Rice/Sadham Recipe

Sambar Rice/Sambar Sadham

Sambar Rice/Sambar Sadham

Recipe by Maya Shetty
0.0 from 0 votes


Prep time


Cooking time




Total time




  • 2 cups Rice

  • 3/4 cup Toor Dhal

  • 1 large Onion finely sliced

  • 1 cup Mixed vegetables

  • 1 Tomato cubed

  • 1 tbsp Sambar powder

  • 2 tbsp Ghee

  • 1 sprig Curry leaves

  • A pinch Asoefoetida/Hing

  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

  • 1/4 tsp Tamarind paste diluted in 1/2 cup water

  • To taste Salt

  • 4 cups Water


  • Wash rice and lentils together under cold running water in a bowl or in the pressure cooker itself. Now add 4 cups of water and 1 tbsp of ghee to the rice & lentils and cook until you hear 3 whistles. The ghee not only flavors the rice but also helps cook the lentils faster, making the soft and mushy.
  • Next remove from flame and set aside to cool. When slightly open the lid of the pressure cooker and gently mash the rice and dhal/lentil together.
  • In a cooking pan, add the table spoon of ghee, when warm add the mustard seeds, jeera/cumin seeds, dry red chili and curry leaves, adding asoefoet/hing last to do the seasoning.
  • When seasoning is complete, add the sliced onion and saute a bit till golden brown, next add in the mixed vegetables and cubed tomatoes , stir and cover with lid until soft.Add turmeric powder and salt to taste. Here you may add 3/4 cup of water to cook the vegetables until they turn soft.
  • When the vegetables are cooked well, add the diluted tamarind water and sambar powder and mix them well. Stir for 2-3 minutes until the raw smell of the sambar powder disappears.
  • Next add the rice and dhal mix to the above and bend in all the ingredients well checking taste for salt and spice.
  • When the water is well absorbed and the rice begins to bubble it is time to turn off the stove.
  • Serve hot with papadam and spicy Indian pickle


  • If using drumsticks to make sambar rice, make sure you cut them into tiny 1 inch pieces and cook them with the lentils in the pressure cooker. This will make them soft and mushy and help absorb flavors of the sambar easily, otherwise they will take a longer time to cook.
  • One can also use frozen drumsticks ( 10-12 pieces) for this recipe

Nutrition Facts

4 servings per container

  • Amount Per ServingCalories1821
  • % Daily Value *
  • Total Fat 33g 51%
    • Saturated Fat 20g 100%
  • Cholesterol 77mg 26%
  • Sodium 165mg 7%
  • Potassium 1322mg 38%
  • Total Carbohydrate 341g 114%
    • Dietary Fiber 16g 64%
    • Sugars 11g
  • Protein 35g 70%

  • Vitamin A 207%
  • Vitamin C 105%
  • Calcium 22%
  • Iron 33%

* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

List of variety rice from South India

The Bottom Line

Now that you know how to make yourself a delicious plate of South Indian sambar rice/sadham are you going to give it a try? Believe me, it is the best comfort food if you are someone who leans to the spicy side of food.

Share your feedback, if you give my recipe a try in the comments section below.

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