I googled the word “Sambar” and was really surprised to see the number of results displayed (around 75,000 of them). I knew sambar is a very versatile dish, but I didn’t realize that each household in south India have their own way of making it. When you think of sambar, you think of (idlis, of course.. but that’s not what I’m thinking here J) spicy lentil-tamarind based soup with veggies. But the different ways in which all these ingredients come together, gives rise to a plethora of sambar recipes.
Doesn't that book look wicked?? This is the book that I carried with me to write down recipes from my mom, my mother-in-law and the TV (there are like 4 different cooking shows on 4 different telugu channels in the span of 2 hours in India and I made sure that I didn’t miss out anything interesting on any of the shows). I have some authentic Andhra dishes and some fancy (can I use that word for food???) dishes in the book that I have to try. Will post about them soon.
For now, here is my mom’s way of making sambar. I used potatoes, green peppers and onions for this.
Toor dal – 1 cup
Onions – 1 large, thinly sliced
Green pepper – 1 medium, sliced thin
Potatoes – 2 medium, sliced thin
Tomatoes – 2 medium, chopped fine
Tamarind paste – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste
For Sambar paste:
Chana dal – 2 tbsp
Urad dal – 2 tbsp
Red chilies – 6
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Pepper cloves – ½ tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Grated coconut (fresh or dry) – 4 tbsp
Mustard Seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin Seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - 6
- To make the paste, fry all ingredients except for coconut in 1 tsp ghee. Cool and grind into a smooth paste along with grated coconut. Keep aside.
- Pressure cook dal until very very smooth (I usually wait for atleast half a dozen whistles in my cooker). Boil the veggies in just enough water till tender.
- Add chopped tomatoes, cover and cook tomatoes turn mushy.
- Add the cooked dal (mash it a little bit for smoother texture), tamarind paste, ground paste, salt and 2 cups of water.
- Bring it to a slow simmer and cook till you get the desired consistency. Add water if you like your sambar on the liquidy side.
- Heat 1 tsp oil in a small pan, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves. After the seeds splutter add it to sambar. Mix well.
I always end up making a whole big pot of sambar that lasts for atleast 3-4 meals and I don’t mind that because the taste just keeps getting better the next day. Enjoy with idli or rice.