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black saucepan with Karnataka style sambar

Pumpkin Sambar

This Karnataka style sambar is slightly sweet, creamy and absolutely delicious. Serve with steamed rice and a veggie side for a comforting meal.
Author: Pavani
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Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian, karnataka, south indian
Servings: 6 Servings


  • 3~4 cups Pumpkin or Butternut or Kabocha, peeled & cubed
  • 2 tablespoons Canola oil
  • To taste Salt, divided
  • ½ cup Toor or Masoor dal
  • cups Water, plus more if needed
  • 3 tablespoons Grated Fresh Coconut
  • 2 tablespoons Sambar powder (homemade or store-bought)
  • 2 tablespoons Ghee
  • ½ teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • Pinch of Asafoetida (hing)
  • 6~8 Curry leaves
  • 1~2 Dry Red chilies
  • 3~4 Scallions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Jaggery*
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Lemon/ lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons Cilantro, chopped


  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spread chopped pumpkin in a single layer, drizzle with oil and season with salt. Mix well. Bake for 20~25 minutes or until tender and lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • While the squash is in the oven, cook the lentil/ dal until very soft and mushy. I cook dal in Instant pot for 6~8 minutes.
  • Grind coconut along with sambar powder into a coarse paste. Add half of the roasted squash and grind to a smooth paste.
  • Heat ghee in a medium size saucepan on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and once they pop, add asafoetida/ hing and cook for few seconds. Add the curry leaves and scallion; sauté till they turn soft.
  • Stir in the coconut paste, cooked lentils, reserved roasted squash, jaggery and salt. Simmer on medium flame, for 8~10 minutes until the flavors meld. Finally stir in the lemon juice and turn off the flame. Serve warm with rice and a curry.



  • You can use either toor dal or masoor dal to make this sambar.
  • You can use any roasted winter squash in the recipe. Butternut squash, acorn squash or good old pumpkin will all work here.
  • If you like your sambar creamy, then blend all of the roasted pumpkin along with the coconut and sambar powder. Otherwise, reserve half of the roasted squash to add later.
  • Jaggery can be subbed with coconut sugar or light/ dark brown sugar.
  • You can also roast the pumpkin in an air fryer instead of the oven. Preheat the air fryer at 400°F for 3 minutes. Bake the chopped squash for 15~20 minutes or until tender.
  • Pumpkin can be roasted 2 days in advance. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
  • If you only have desiccated coconut, then soak it in warm water for 15~20 minutes to reconstitute before using in the recipe.
  • Leftover sambar can be stored in the fridge for 3 days. You can also freeze it in an airtight container for up to 2 months.
  • Serve with either rice, idli or dosa. Add a veggie side dish, a pickle and yogurt for a filling and delicious meal.


Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 13mg | Sodium: 16mg | Potassium: 300mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 6737IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg
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