23 Dec 2017

Poosanikai Sambar

Sambar is a stew made with lentils, vegetables and tamarind juice. It is a staple of South India and we make some variety of sambar atleast twice a week. I love to make sambar with poosanikai. It makes it so delicious! I mostly use white pumpkin for my sambar.

Poosanikai is also called as Winter Melon/Ash Gourd and White Pumpkin. It is considered as a natural coolant to the body and is rich in anti oxidants and it can also reduce cholesterol. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and heals stomach ulcers. 

Poosanikai Sambar

You can add the poosanikai by itself or you can add it along with some other veggies and make the sambar.
Preparation time 30 mins | Cooking time 20 mins | Serves - 3


  • White pumpkin - 1 cup, cubed
  • Toor dal - 1/2 cup
  • Onion - 1 
  • Tomato - 3
  • Sambar powder - 2 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
  • Coriander powder - 1 tsp
  • Cumin powder - 1 tsp
  • Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
  • Thick tamarind extract - 1/2 cup
  • Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  • Garlic pods - 5
  • Sukku powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Hing - 3 pinches
  • Coriander leaves - few
  • Ghee - 1 tsp
  • Green chilli - 2
  • Salt - to taste
To Temper
  • Oil - 3 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Urad dal - 1/4 tsp
  • Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  • Red chillies - 2 or 3
Poosanikai Sambar

Watch the video in English

Watch the video in Tamil


1. Wash and soak the toor dal for 30 minutes. Chop all the vegetables and set aside. Soak a lemon sized tamarind in water and squeeze out the juice, discard the pulp.

2. In a pressure pan, take the soaked toor dal and push it along the sides. In the middle, keep a vessel with holes. Fill it with cut pumpkin. 

3. Add about 1 - 1.5 cups of water slowly to the sides of the pressure pan. Now add all the masalas, garlic, hing, sukku powder and salt to the dal. Add the curry leaves and some coriander leaves too. Add 2 chopped tomatoes and ghee.
4. Close the cooker and cook for 3 - 4 whistles. 

5. Once the pressure settles, open the cooker and remove the center vessel slowly and drain all the water out. Set it aside. Mash the dal with a hand blender until smooth and even.

6. In a kadai, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, urad dal, cumin seeds, curry leaves and red chillies.

7. Add the chopped onion and saute until the onions turn translucent. Add the remaining chopped tomato. Cook for 2 minutes.

8. Now add the mashed dal to the onions and tomatoes. Also add the cooked pumpkin. 
9. Add the tamarind extract and mix well. Add about 3/4 cup of water to dilute the sambar.

10. Let it cook for 3 minutes. Check for salt, add more if needed.
11. Add a dollop of ghee and some chopped coriander leaves and switch off.

Poosanikai Sambar

1.  Once you get the basics down, you can change the amount of every ingredient as per your taste.
2. Use thick tamarind extract.
3. When dal is being cooked in the pressure cooker add a tsp of oil to prevent overflow while the whistle goes off.
4. Instead of adding ghee at the last, you can temper with ghee itself instead of oil.
5. I use a vessel with holes to keep the vegetables to cook. If you don't have such kind of a vessel, you can use any vessel.
6. The amount of water you add depends on the thickness and consistency of the sambar you prefer.
7. In the video, I have shared a much easier version of this sambar recipe.

Until next time,
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