Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thick and Savory Sambar (South Indian Vegetarian Stew)

This sambar is moderately thick, like a stew. It is good had with dosa or pongal (rice and moong dhal porridge). A thinner variety of this sambar could be made with less dhal, and had with vada (as in vada sambar). (Pongal Recipe Here) Photo below right of sambar (in small bowl) with pongal (rice dish) and vada (fried lentil donuts) taken by Krishna Kumar.

(listed as per methods)


2 tbspn vegetable or olive oil
¼ tsp mustard seeds
1 sprig Curry Leaves
¾ cup small diced tomatoes
5 red shallot onion
10 small pearl onion
1 onion cut into four pieces
1 cup water
1 cup masoor dhal
1 tbspn sambar powder (We use Tastebuds by Mohanlal/Eastern)
1 cup toor dhal
1 cup water
3 inch piece tamarind
1 cup vegetables of choice- one or more, diced or chunked
(I use two of the following- brinjal aka eggplant, potato, drumstick,
okra/bindi, carrots, Indian pumpkin)

To taste salt

Step 1:
Wash and cook the toor dhal in a separate pot. Keep cooking while continuing other steps. When the dhal is soft and cooked, take off flame, cool.

Step 2:
Soak tamarind in 1 cup warm water while doing other steps. After step 3 is completed, squeeze all juice out of tamarind, rid of the tamarind pulp, put tamarind water with toor dhal in a blender, and puree. This will be added to the sambar.

Step 3:
-Put the oil in the bottom of a deep pot, like a pressure cooker. Keep flame on high.
-As oil heats add mustard seeds (MS).
-When MS pops, turn flame down to half, add the diced tomatoes and curry leaves. Stir fry this in oil for a few minutes.
-Add ½ cup water and 1 tbspn sambar powder and one squeeze of ing and stir. Let simmer/boil for about 3-5 minutes.
-Wash masoor dhal, put the washed dhal along with 1 ½ cup water in the pot. (Masoor dhal photographed on hands by
-Let this stay in the pot until boils, then add the vegetables as desired.
-Let the vegetables and dhal cook on medium heat for 30-45 minutes until the masoor dhal begins to ‘melt’ into the mixture.
End step 3.

Step 4:
Add the pureed toor dhal/tamarind extract mixture. Stir. Let simmer on medium for 5 minutes or so. Taste for salt, add more as required.