Fat-Free Crockpot Sambar for Two

Crockpot SambarDo you ever get tired of those leftovers? I know I do.

I cook up a big pot of dal or pasta for Desi and I, and then– many cooking experiments later– I am digging it out of the back of the refrigerator. It is covered in fuzzy gray stuff, smells lethal, and I am afraid it’s too spoiled to go into the trash. Ugh.

That’s why I am madly in love right now with my little baby crockpot. It’s really tiny, looks awfully cute, and is perfect for anyone who cooks regularly — or once in a way — for just one or two.

Yesterday, I made a fat-free sambar in it that was just enough to fill Desi and me up for dinner, without me having to break out the Tupperware afterwards. It was a simple, totally delicious recipe that required just 10 minutes of prep– mainly chopping up some vegetables. How great is that?

Crockpot SambarWhile crockpots often get associated with cooking meat, they are perfect for vegan or vegetarian cooking. That’s because the gentle heat and long cooking period helps the flavors meld together. It’s like you spent four or five hours slaving over a hot stove to draw out all those flavors out when all you were really doing was sitting in your porch, sipping a margarita. Or working, which is a lot less fun, so let’s go with the porch and the margarita, shall we?

This is a perfect recipe if you are all thumbs when it comes to Indian cooking because you don’t really need any technique. You just need to know how to measure and throw things into a pot. And then add some water. And plug the crockpot into an electric outlet.

If that sounded like too much work for you…well, you just need to order in.

Leaving you now with the recipe. Enjoy!

Crockpot Sambar

5.0 from 1 reviews
Fat-Free Crockpot Sambar
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
I use a really small crockpot with a capacity of 0.65 quarts, although this can also be made in a 2-quart crockpot. To cook for more people just multiply the ingredients proportionately and use a larger crockpot.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 2
  • ¼ cup masoor lentils or pink lentils (don't use any other kind because they will not break down in the crockpot)
  • ¼ medium onion, finely minced
  • ½ cup veggies, chopped into small pieces. I used eggplant, but you can go with carrots, zucchini, pumpkin, red peppers, baby onions, or, if you're hard-core into Indian cooking, drumsticks (the vegetable kind), bottle gourd, bitter gourd or any veggie used in a sambar.
  • ¼ cup chopped tomatoes or 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 4 curry leaves
  • 1 tsp sambar powder
  • ½ tsp tamarind paste
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup water or vegetable stock
  1. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl of your crockpot. Stir thoroughly, and cook for 6 hours or until the lentils are soft and mushy. The dal will get really tender, but it won't break down into a mush, the way it would if you pressure-cooked it.
  2. Check seasoning and add more salt if needed.
  3. Serve hot with rice and papads.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 97 Fiber: 4.8 grams Protein: 6 grams

Crockpot Sambar

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  1. Ellen Lederman says

    WELCOME BACK! So glad all your wonderful posts weren’t lost—you make the Internet a better place for those of us whole-food plant-based eaters who love flavorful food.

    Been wanting to make a sambar. Only thing holding me back now is the sambar powder. Spice cupboard is already full, so what’s one more spice to add? Atlanta has lots of Indian stores, so I can easily buy it.

    I kind of get confused between rasam and sambar, but when I have them both side by side at a restaurant buffet, I always seem to gravitate more towards the sambar (thicker? deeper flavor?)

    • says

      Thanks, dear Ellen. :) You are so very kind. Sambar powder is definitely a worthy investment– you can add it to other Indian dishes too, including subzis.
      You’re right that the sambar has more body than the rasam– rasam is mostly lentil stock and often spicier.

  2. says

    I love a nice, thick, homemade sambar! Great idea making a small batch in the crockpot. I have been experimenting with slow cooking Indian food lately too. It definitely makes the house smell amazing when you walk in!

  3. Aditya Swaminathan says

    As someone who lives in South India, I am always on the look out for new variations of familiar things. Will definitely give this a try!

  4. Minakshi says

    Tried this recipe for dinner tonight and loved it! I used frozen okra as the vegetable and it turned out great.
    Thank you for sharing your recipe.

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