Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Sambar with Okra (Bendakaaya Sambar)

I bought okra (benda Kaayalu) from Wal-Mart supercenter’s frozen section last weekend. As mush as I detest Wal-Mart business practices, I still shop there occasionally for groceries during fall and winter times, as we live in a rural area, and fresh vegetables that I prefer are really pricy after the summer. This behemoth shop carries quite a range of fresh and frozen vegetables at affordable prices year long.

After reading some of the fellow food bloggers posts about okra, I was tempted to dish out my favorite okra recipe from Nandyala, the famous bendakaaya sambar (okra sambar).

Smooth and silky okra when cooked in sambar, absorbs all the wonderful flavors of sambar spices and takes ‘I can’t believe this is okra’ kind of avatar, and goes down without resistance when eaten.

Cooked Toor dal, tamarind juice, Turmeric, Sambhar powder, red chilli powder and salt, Okra Pieces, Cumin, Mustard seeds and curry leaves for popu, Onion and tomato


Toor dal (Kandi Pappu):
1 cup of Toor dal – In a pressure cooker, take toor dal and water in 1:2 ratio, cook to soft, and mash the dal to smooth consistency.
Sambar powder Preparation:
1 teaspoon each – cumin, coriander, fenugreek seeds, chana dal, urad dal and dry coconut, Dry roast. Cool. Powder them together to fine. Or buy readymade sambar powder from an Indian store. We need atleast a tablespoon of sambar powder for this recipe.
Soak key-lime sized tamarind in half cup of water for 10min. This will soften the tamarind. Squeeze the pulp and discard the seeds.
Veggies for Sambhar:
Cut – 10 to 15 whole okra, 10 to 15 cherry tomatoes and one onion (What shape and size, see the photo above)
Salt, red chilli powder and turmeric – half teaspoon each, or to taste.
For popu or tadka:
1 teaspoon peanut oil
½ tsp each – curry leaves, chopped garlic, cumin and mustard seeds

tomato, okra cooking before adding the mashed toor dal After adding the toor dal to tomato-okra soup (Notice the change of colors from red to yellow)
Cooked Okra-Tomato Veggie Mixture……. Toor dal added to the veggie mixture


In a big pot, take peanut oil. On medium heat, do the popu or tadka(toast curry leaves, garlic, cumin and mustard seeds). When seeds start to pop, add the onions and saute to soft. Then add tomatoes and okra pieces. Also stir in sambar powder, red chilli powder, turmeric, salt, tamarind and one glass of water. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat, cover the pan, let simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until the okra is tender.

Add the cooked and mashed toor dal to the simmering contents in the pot. Mix and have a taste. Adjust the salt and chilli powder to your taste and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve. I usually let it sit for at least for about 15 to 30 minutes, so that when it is served, you can actually taste the flavor of sambar powder.

Okra Sambhar (Benda kaaya Sambhar) with Rice
Okra Sambhar with rice ~ Our Meal Today

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Benda Kaaya(Okra),Toor Dal (Tuesday September 20, 2005 at 4:04 pm- permalink)
Comments (23)

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23 comments for Sambar with Okra (Bendakaaya Sambar) »

  1. Yum- this is my kind of comfort food. Nice pictures.

    Comment by mika — September 20, 2005 @ 4:47 pm

  2. Absolutely love okra sambar… the aroma is SOOOO good! Same with capsicum sambar too. Mouth-watering!

    Comment by Shammi — September 21, 2005 @ 5:04 am

  3. I adore Indian ways with okra.

    Someday, maybe I can convince Morganna and Zak that they like okra, too.

    But, good news–I made some fried green tomatoes with Indian spices last night–and Zak ate them and loved them! Woohoo! Now, just to convince Morganna….

    Comment by Barbara — September 21, 2005 @ 7:55 am

  4. Hi!

    I would like to invite you to participate in “I Like ’em Spicy!”, a fortnightly food event, where all participants have to come up with a spicy recipe using the Star Ingredient (which is different every fortnight)!

    The rules are simple:

    1. The recipe has to use the Star Ingredient as the base of the dish
    2. It has to be SPICY!!
    3. Dishes can be of any form you can imagine, appetizers, mains, desserts, drinks…whatever you can come up with!

    On the 1st and 15th of every month, I will the post the Star Ingredient and you are expected to email your entries to by the next two weeks.

    At the end of the two weeks, I will post all the recipes on a special blog built especially for “I Like ’em Spicy!” so you can all view the fabulous entries!

    For further details do drop in “Hooked on Heat”, at and join in on the fun!

    – Meena

    Comment by Meenakshi — September 21, 2005 @ 12:52 pm

  5. Mika, Shammy … thanks!

    Barbara… I never made fried green tomatoes before. Your recipe sounds easy and tasty, its on my to do list.
    Good for Zack:) Did you try green bell pepper recipe with them?

    Comment by Indira — September 21, 2005 @ 4:19 pm

  6. This looks sooo yummy! I must give it a try soon, thank you for the lovely recipe.

    Comment by keiko — September 28, 2005 @ 7:15 am

  7. Could you please post recipe for tomato chutney.

    Comment by Vani — November 16, 2005 @ 6:48 pm

  8. Today, I made your okra sambhar and it was so good! Cooking the toor dal in my brand new pressure cooker was simple and I used a sambhar paste, which was very good. I made it with spinach chapatis, basmati rice, and yogurt. Yum Yum! Thanks for the recipe!

    Indira says…
    Hi Marisa, I am glad it turned out good. You know, okra sambhar is my favorite and leftover sambhar tastes even great, don’t you agree?
    New pressure cooker is a good investment for tasty Indian recipes. Did you buy it from Oak tree shops? What brand and how much, I am curious.:)

    Comment by Marisa — November 19, 2005 @ 3:47 pm

  9. hiiiii indira ,
    first congratulations on ur good work … i’m surprised how i missed ur site for so long … beleive me , my sambhar never turned out well even after three years of cooking…( really miss my mom’s after coming to the US) …but ur recipe was the saviour…loved it to bits … thanx !!!

    Comment by anju — January 17, 2006 @ 1:31 pm

  10. Wonderful recipe,Indira..The idea of sambar with okra was new to me.Today I prepared this one and it was worth trying.
    Even i’m new to your blog also.Anyway will definitely check it out often.

    Comment by Annita — February 24, 2006 @ 6:21 pm

  11. Sambhar with Okra

    Thanks once again to Mahanandi for this wonderful recipe. Her blog is such an inspiration to me. I’m repeating it here in my casual “1, 2, 3” style as it’s easier for me to refer back to when I’m ready…

    Trackback by .: evil jungle prince :. — March 25, 2006 @ 12:21 pm

  12. I made your sambhar today but without okra and instead of toor dal I used mash ki dal and it still turned out very very good. I used to make sambhar from the instant mixes…but from now on….NEVER! Thank you soo much for sharing all your good recipes with us. It really helps me because I’m just starting to learn about south indian cooking(which my husband loves) and you have a wealth of good south indian recipes. Thank you again..
    P.S: the sambhar goes very well with the bulghur wheat upma I made.

    Comment by Nabeela — April 12, 2006 @ 10:59 pm

  13. Hi,
    today is the first time i saw ur site. Was looking for okra curry and seeing the term in Telugu made me browse this site. the photos r amazing and the info abt all those items is great. Do u know of any other type of curry we can make with okra besides the fry?


    Comment by Suneeta — April 25, 2006 @ 9:49 am

  14. Hi Indira,

    I made the okra sambhar a couple of days ago… it was a smashing hit with my husband & me… we love it… I never dared to add okra to sambahr earlier as they would disintegrate.. but I love your recipe.. the okra remained intact while it was cooked to perfection too… thanks

    Comment by Meera — May 24, 2006 @ 9:21 pm

  15. Indira,
    I am also a great fan of your site and love all the recipes that you painstakingly prepared and the snaps are just awesome. The sambhar recipe is too good…shall try it sometime this week. I also add carrots, radish & cauliflower to the sambhar…so it’s more of a vegetable sambhar. Thanks so much.

    Comment by Jaya — November 21, 2006 @ 7:27 pm

  16. Hi Indira,
    My daughter just loves this dish. I tried it yesterday…it was superb.

    Comment by PJ — November 26, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  17. Hello Indira,

    My hubby coouldn’t stop praising me last night.I followed ur recipe to the tee and it was a super duper hit,esp since we both love bhindi.
    Thanks so much:))
    Can I ask you if you have any prawn dishes at all? thanks


    Comment by Savi — November 29, 2006 @ 10:46 am

  18. I’m an American but I abosultely love Indian curries especially “Sambhar”. My wife & I make “bendakaya sambhar” and “drumstick sambhar” regularly….we like it spicy….yummmmmmy!!

    Comment by jason — October 18, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

  19. Hi Indira,

    Your recipes are too good! I am a big fan of your blog and visit and try these recipes very often.
    I have one question: is there any way I can find all the recipes for a particular ingredient in one page. Like for example, I found Okra sambhar listed under 2005/09/20 but when I go to Recipes by Ingredients and click on ‘Okra’, I am not seeing this recipe. Thus I am missing out some of your yummy recipes 🙁

    Hi Madhuri,
    I usually add recipes in appropriate categories. Looks like I missed it here.
    Thanks for pointing it out. I have added okra sambar under okra category. 🙂
    – Indira

    Comment by Madhuri — February 27, 2008 @ 8:03 am

  20. Dear Indira,

    I’m from Mumbai & My husband- Goutam comes from Chennai. I never got a chance to make sambhar as he happily volunteered to prepare it always.. I thought no one can make sambhar like him..
    But i tried your okra sambhar today… and has turned out heavenly !!! WOW !
    Thanks for sharing this recipe ! I owe you big time …!

    I’m a regular reader of this site & Nupur’s OneHotStove… and i simple love it !!!

    Leena Ajgaonkar Goutam.

    Hi Leena,
    Good to know that you tried and liked this recipe. Thanks for taking time to let me know.

    Comment by Leena — February 28, 2008 @ 10:25 am

  21. Hi Indira,

    can u please post the rasam powder recipe. I have been trying various kinds but none came up to my expectations. i am a regular visitor to your site and thought that u would do justice to any recipe..


    Comment by parimala — June 8, 2008 @ 1:59 pm

  22. Indira, I made your okra sambhar today and it came out awesome. My husband loves okra sambhar, but I didn’t know how to make it keeping okra intact.
    Thanks for the delicious recipe!

    Comment by Lakshmi — June 26, 2009 @ 6:59 pm

  23. Hi, how do I use the frozen okra in the sambar? Do I need to cook it before adding to sambar? How to avoid it from getting slimy?

    Comment by Vrinda — August 31, 2015 @ 11:20 pm

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