Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sambar: South Indian Lentil Stew

Sambar is a word derived from Tamil, meaning spicy condiments. This traditional South Indian lentil stew is generally served with Idli, Dosa, Medu vada or sometimes even with rice. Every state in Southern India has it's own style of making this traditional chowder and the taste varies accordingly. Here is an easy to prepare sambar; that is spicy, tangy and hot.

A simple stew made from boiled yellow pigeon peas (toor dal), drumsticks, bottle gourd and specialized Sambar Masala. A lot of variations to the traditional sambar are possible, right from adding vegetables like potato, eggplant or carrots; to stirring up a Mango Sambar!! Quickly make this lentil soup and serve it with Dosa or Idli for either breakfast or for dinner, along with some coconut chutney and Malga Podi.

Yellow pigeon peas 1 cup
Drumsticks 5-6 pieces
Onion 1/2 cup sliced thinly
Tomatoes 1/2 cup cubed
Bottle Gourd and Pumpkin 1/4 cup diced
Ginger 1 tbsp minced
Curry leaves
Green chili
Spices: Mustard seeds, Cumin seeds, Red Chili powder, Asafoetida, Turmeric powder, udad dal
Salt, Sugar, Lime Juice
Sambar Masala

Wash a couple of times and pressure cook the pigeon peas with 1 1/2 cup water and a pinch of salt. Also, pressure cook the drumsticks and diced bottle gourd and pumpkin. You can either cook them together with the pigeon peas or separately. Once completely cooked, remove the vegetables from the pigeon peas and set aside. Mash the pigeon peas thoroughly.

In a thick bottom pan, heat oil and add mustard seeds. Once they pop, add asafoetida and cumin seeds. Next add green chilli, curry leaves, udad dal and minced ginger. Mix well. Add sliced onions and cook them on medium flame. Once done, add a spoon of sambar masala and mix well. Add the tomatoes and cook. Next, add the drumsticks, bottle gourd and pumpkin and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

Once the vegetables are done, add the mashed pigeon peas and turmeric, chili powder and mix well. Adjust the water content to get the desired consistency and salt, sugar and lime juice to taste. Let the sambar boil for 10-12 minutes mixing intermittently. 

Once boiled, turn down the flame and garnish with cilantro. Serve with idli, dosa, medu vada or with rice.

Also try the tangy Tomato Dal Rasam.

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