We decided to have sambar – prepared in the traditional Malayali (Kerala) way – for dinner tonight. However, despite some reservations by my ‘sous chef’, I decided to give it my usual twist and added raw mango and potato. Here is how it went. Hope you try it out, but be careful of the ‘heat’. It turned out to be a ‘steamer’.
Toor dal: One cup; Imli (tamarind) paste: One teaspoon; Sambar powder: Three tablespoons: Turmeric: Half tablespoon; Red Chilli Powder: One tablespoon; Salt: According to taste; Oil: Four tablespoons; Raw mango: One small.
Pumpkin: One small piece; Okra: 10 pieces; Drumsticks: One large; Yam: One small piece; Carrot: One small; Beans: 4 to 5 pieces; Potato: One small; Onion: 4 to 5 pieces; Garlic: 3 cloves; Bottle gourd: I small piece.
For Sambar powder:
Coriander seeds: two tablespoons; Dry red chilli: 7 to 8 pieces, Cumin seeds: 1 teaspoon; Black pepper: 1 teaspoon; Fenugreek seeds: 1 teaspoon; Asafoetida: Quarter teaspoon. Fry all these (except Asafoetida) lightly and make into a fine powder in a grinder.
In a pressure cooker, boil the dal, two onions (finely chopped), two green chilli’s (finely chopped), two to three pieces of curry leaves and salt in water just enough to cook the dal into a fine paste (three to four whistles).
Separately, in a frying pan, heat the oil, put in the mustard seeds and when it sputters, put in the dry red chilli’s and one onion and garlic (finely chopped) and when it turns brown, remove in a small bowl and keep aside for garnishing later. Top it with a curry leaf stem so as to release the aroma.
In the same pan, pour one-tablespoon oil and fry the okra till brown. Now put in the rest of the vegetables and the sambar powder and stir. Then pour the tamarind paste and add some water and stir well.
Open the pressure cooker and with a ladle, grind the dal into a fine paste before adding it to the pan with the vegetables. Add salt and stir. Put in more chilli powder or green chilli if you need it spicier (and hot).
Cover and allow it to cook for five minutes until the vegetables are done.
Once the sambar is ready, put the garnishing and chopped coriander leaves. Serve with dosa and/or steamed rice. We made dosa from scratch but it can be prepared with readymade dosa mix.