Sambar is a lentil-stew that is a staple in South India. Inherently vegan, loaded with vegetables (usually one or two different ones), split pigeon peas, this is a comfort food. Sanju’s default Saturday Menu item. My mum makes homemade sambar masala and sends it over to me. There are different brands of sambar masala you can find in Indian groceries. Look for MTR ( it is the best store-bought brand). I will be visiting my parents (next week, yay!!!!) and will post a recipe on sambar masala soon 🙂
Now, the next major ingredient in sambar is tamarind. You can find these in Indian groceries. They come in a tightly packed slab-Dark brown to almost black in color. It’s tricky to get the amount of tamarind right. Take a tablespoon, stuff it with tamarind, Do it couple of times-so you have couple of Tbsp of tamarind. Soak this in a cup of water for 30 mins.
- Methi leaves-one cup-tightly packed-washed well
- Shallots-1/2 cup
- Cooked ( with 1/4 tsp turmeric and NO SALT) and mashed Split Pigeon peas-1 cup
- Sambar powder-1 Tbsp
- Mustard seeds-1 tsp
- Asafoetida aka Hing-1 pinch
- Curry leaves-1 sprig
- To roast
- 2 Tbsp of Coriander seeds
- 1 Tbsp of Channa Dal
- 1 tsp rice
- 5 dry red chili
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (plus)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- Coconut thawed (or) Desiccated Coconut -1/4 cup
- Tamarind-2 Tbsp-soaked in 1 cup water for 30 mins
- Coconut oil-1.5 tsp
- salt-to taste
- Massage tamarind until the water changes dark brown. Strain it through a fine strainer into bowl. Repeat the process with 1 cup water again. Water will now look a light shade of brown. Strain it into the same bowl. Repeat again with now 1/2 cup water. Add this to the same bowl and discard the pulp
- Take a stockpot, add coconut oil, mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves and wait until mustard seeds pop, add shallots in, saute until they turn brown on the outside, add tomatoes in , saute for couple of minutes, add methi leaves in and saute until they wilt, add turmeric, sambar powder, tamarind water, salt and let it boil on a medium flame for 12 mins.
- Whilst tamarind water is getting cooked, in a small pan, add 1/2 tsp of oil, add all the spices given above to be roasted until they go golden brown, add coconut and blend into a ‘chutney’ consistency.
- After 12 mins, add the ground paste, 1/4 cup water and let it cook for 3 mins.
- Add lentils and wait until they bubble around the edges.
- Remove from heat and add coriander leaves.
- Serve with rice and one of these South-Indian accompaniments
Look what my students gave me on the final day of my class 🙂