Nupur’s A-Z of Indian Vegetables ~ J is for Jackfruit (Just a little late)

I am often Just under the wire with my entries for all these fun events. I like to think it’s because I work better under pressure. While that may be true to an extent, most of the time it’s because I have so many wild ideas that it’s hard to settle down and choose one! This and the fact that I had no time to cook last weekend prevented me from getting a “J” ready for Nupur’s A-Z of Indian Vegetables by Saturday. So here I am Just a few days late 🙂

jackfruit chips, boiled jackfruit chips, shallot, radish, carrot
clockwise from bottom left: jackfruit chips, boiled jackfruit chips, shallots, radish, carrots

Down the road from work is a great little Indian cafe. They serve chaats of all variety, sambhar to die for, and sweets galore. I have tasted a couple of their chaats, but mostly it’s their sambhar I crave. It’s silky smooth and bursting with flavor, with little chunks of brinjal, carrot, and sometimes potato floating about between the mustard and cumin seeds. I really wanted to recreate it at home. MHD makes good sambhar powder and I like it, but its heat is a little too brash for this. I tried with a homemade version I had in the freezer, but I still couldn’t quite get the distinctive taste of that sambhar.

The last time I visited the shop, I hinted around a little, trying to get a secret or two:

Me: “I’d like one sambhar please, to go”.

Proprietor: “Oneplainsambharnovadanoidly”??? (he’s always in a hurry)

Me: “Yes please. Oh, it smells heavenly! I make sambhar at home but it’s never quite the same” (smiling… hint, hint…).

Proprietor: “Thassalljussoneplainsambharandyouwantittogoma’am?”

Me (little deflated): “Yes, please, one plain sambhar”.

Hmm… maybe he doesn’t think I know what good sambhar *is*…

While I wait, I browse around the small selection of grocery items. I pick up a package of toor dal and a package of mustard seeds. Maybe he’ll take me more seriously if he sees me buying these. I lay them by the cash register.

The proprietor ignores me, bustling about behind the counter.
I forge ahead anyway.

Me: “You folks serve the most delicious sambhar I’ve ever tasted! There must be a secret ingredient”! (flashing big grin now… HINT HINT!)

Proprietor (unmoved by my blatant plea): “Youwanttopayforthesenowwiththatplainsambhartogoma’am”?

I give up and to console myself, I buy the package of jackfruit chips I’ve been eyeing, too.

Well, I guess we both knew there was no way he was going to divulge his secret!!


After stalling a long time, I finally bought a lovely new pressure cooker (my first one went home with my sister months ago). Past few days I read about a zillion sambhar recipes — rereading some of my favorites and checking out some new. While reading, I munched on the jackfruit chips I picked up in the little shop near work. I had never tried them before, and they were tasty. They also gave me an idea. Into the kitchen I went with my new pressure cooker, and gave it a whirl.

Jackfruit Sambhar

1 c toor dal, picked over and washed
1 small piece tamarind (golf ball or lime size)
1/2 c jackfruit chips

For tadka

2 tsp canola oil

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp chana dal
a few methi seeds
curry leaves (10-12 small or 5-6 large)

For the vegetables

2 big shallots cut fine
1-2 big green chiles (cut a slice off top and bottom, but leave whole)
2 carrots, sliced
6-8 red radishes, diced
1 long asian eggplant, cut in chunks

For seasoning

1 tsp kashmiri chile powder
1/2 tsp coarsely cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin-coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp methi powder

Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


Pressure cook (yay!!) the dal with 2 c water. Mash to a smooth paste and set aside.

Soak the tamarind in a cup of hot water till soft. Strain the pulp and set the tamarind water aside.

Boil the jackfruit chips in about a cup of water till soft. Drain and set aside. Reserve the boiling water. If any oil rises, just skim it off and discard.

In a large saucepan, heat the canola oil and do the tadka. I did the dals and methi first until fragrant, then popped the mustard; cumin and curry leaves went in last.

To this spiced oil add the shallots and stir around for a minute or two, then add the green chile, carrots, radishes, and eggplant. Saute this mixture about 5 minutes or so, then add the tamarind water and all the seasonings. Let it simmer together about 10 minutes, then add the mashed dal paste, the reserved jackfruit water and 4 cups fresh cold water.

Bring everything to a boil, mixing well to blend the dal in completely. Boil just a minute or two, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the boiled jackfruit pieces, add salt to taste and simmer about 30 minutes. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Thin with a little more water to get the consistency you prefer.


This was the first time I made a real sambhar without following a recipe. I think half the battle was won when I brought home the new cooker. Dal cooked on the stove in the regular way is good, but the pressure cooker brings a completely different dimension in both taste and texture. I won’t be without one again. I have to say, I was thrilled with the results — it was nearly as good as the little cafe’s, and twice as good the next day.

jackfruit sambhar
silky jackfruit sambhar garnished with crispy jackfruit chips


  1. Revathi said

    Kudos Linda. Making a good Sambhar graduates us Tamilians as a good cook. So you graduate according to that standards !!! Restaurant Sambar is surely somehting different. I never get that taste as well. But they add a bit of rice powder and coconut powder. Rice powder for thickness and coconut powder for taste and texture. Atleast thats what I was told.

    I will try to get the restaurant sambar details for you from my mom or my aunty –

    hi Revathi, I’m glad to know I am a candidate for graduation! 😉 Thanks for the tips, and would love to see your mom’s/aunty’s recipe too! 🙂

  2. bee said

    linda, you amaze me with your creations. every time. you are so innovative. forget that guy’s sambhar. yours looks pretty darn good.

    aren’t those jackfruit chips divine?

    Thank you, Bee! I loved the jackfruit chips. I bought the last bag and already am wondering when I might get some more 🙂

  3. Coffee said

    Hahahahahaha…….. no kidding Linda?????!!!!!!! Jackfruit and Sambhar!!!!!!! One clever lady I must say!!!!! Kuddos to you girl!!!! 🙂

    Thanks, Coffee — seemed a strange combo yes? Came out better than I had hoped 🙂

  4. sia said

    ha ha ha… why u need his sambar recipe when u can cook like this? u rock lady:)
    will post special sambar from mangalore for u:) no dal init. 🙂

    ooh, thanks Supriya! Will be watching for that on your blog 🙂

  5. Nupur said

    You are in the round-up now! Thanks, Linda! You keep astounding us with your creative genius. Love eating jackfruit chips, and that sambar is to die for.

    Thank you Nupur, and thanks for adding me so late. I *loved* the jackfruit chips — highly addictive! 🙂

  6. indosungod said

    Linda, Jackfruit chips in Sambhar, you sure are creative. Sometimes we Indians don’t understand hints that well, the next time just plain out ask him. but you know what, you don’t have to bother your sambhar looks perfect.

    Hi ISG, and thank you! Yes, I suppose I would have had better luck asking straight out, but am a little timid about that 🙂

  7. Menu Today said

    Hi Linda,
    Jackfruit sambar is new to me and it looks nice.
    Simple tomato sandwich too nice. Thanks for sharing.

    Hi MT, thanks for stopping by — I’m glad you liked them 🙂

  8. asha said

    HAHAHA!!! He is clever too Linda! Can’t spill the the secret!D

    Sambhar looks great you don’t need his secret.Are you preparing for K nw or what? :))

    Thanks Asha, am preparing for K at the last minute, as usual! 🙂 Hope you have a great Easter weekend. Your K was excellent! I left you a comment but don’t know whether you saw 🙂

  9. sra said

    Creative indeed, Linda, and your sambar looks v, v naturally Indian. I saw a recipe for apple sambar once and actually made it, when a friend challenged me to!

    Oh wow, SRA, apple sambhar — now that must have been interesting! Perhaps you’ll share that one sometime? Thanks for your encouragement! 🙂

  10. swapna said

    That was fun reading ur conversation with the shop owner..hee hee.they don’t reveal their secrets linda !!The sambar looks amazing with the jack fruit ..thanks for the recipe!!

    Thank you, Swapna — I’m so glad you enjoyed 🙂

  11. Trupti said

    hahahhaha…let me stop laughing first at the Shopkeeper…….okay, I’m done. 😉

    Jackfruit is something I have NEVER tried, you don’t think we get it here in NFLD, do you?? naaah….the name alone cracks me up..but am willing to try anything at least once. I don’t know If I could keep a straight face if my newfie friends asked me what I was eating though.

    Pressure cooker is a godsend, isn’t it? Makes our lives so much easier…I love my black potbelly one from India that my Mil got for me.

    Have a lovely Easter weekend, I’ll be chasing the two boys up the wall after they’ve had their fill of Easter eggs and chocolate. 😦

    Hi Trupti, I had a pressure cooker way back a year ago, but I gave it away. Now that I have another, I don’t intend to give it up! Jackfruit chips are completely different than the canned I have tasted (both unripe). I haven’t had the ripe, sweet jackfruit yet. We’ll have to send the polar express with a sample for you! 😉

    Enjoy the little chocolate bunnies bouncing off those walls! 🙂

  12. Lera said

    love your Jackfruit sambhar, a fruity combo with lentil, they look simply delicious ,look at those jackfruit strips, they surely are perfect for a sunday brunch! Linda Happy Easter to you and your Family 🙂

    Have a happy weekend yourself, Lera — and thanks for your lovely words 🙂

  13. very innovative recipe linda..i never thought that we can make sambar with jackfruit !!

    Thanks, Maneka — give it a try sometime — the jackfruit chips are really tasty cooked 🙂

  14. MeltingWok said

    I didn’t know I could use tamarind in sambhar ahh, thx for the great tip, Linda 🙂

    Almost every recipe I’ve seen has tamarind, or mango pwd (amchur) to add tang and little sourness. Not my invention but it is tasty! 🙂

  15. […] they taste delicious reconstituted too ~ especially in sambhar! […]

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