Thursday, 7 February 2013

Vegetable Sambhar - A South Indian delicacy/ Vegetable Stew/Chowder


Sambar or sambhar or sambaaru is a dish in South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil cuisines, made of pigeon peas. Sambar is a vegetable stew or chowder based on a broth made with tamarind and pigeon peas, and is very popular in the cooking of southern regions of India, especially in Tamil Nadu,Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Each state in South India prepares it with a typical variation, adapted to its taste and environment.
The pigeon peas are cooked until crumbled. Vegetables, turmeric, salt, asafoetida (a pinch) and a mixture of ground spices known as sambar powder are initially boiled together.
After the vegetables and tamarind water are slightly cooked, the lentils and ground coconut mixture are added and allowed to cook until the vegetables are done.
A wide variety of vegetables may be added to sambar. Typical vegetables include okra, carrot, radish, pumpkin, potatoes, tomatoes, brinjal (eggplant) and whole or halved shallots or onions, but many different vegetables may be used with adequate results.
Typically sambar may contain one or several seasonal vegetables as the main vegetables in the soup.
The easiest way to make "Sambar" would be to use any good brand "Sambar powder" like MTR Sambar powder.
But for those who want to make it at home, I have given the recipe.

Serves 4
Ingredients:

Pigeon peas/Toor dal/Split yellow lentils - 2 cups
Vegetables of choice - I have used Tomato, Carrot and green beans - cut into cubes - 1 cup
Hing/Asafoetida - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 2 tbsp ( Home made or any good brand like MTR)
Tamarind juice - 1 tbsp
For seasoning:
Ghee/Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Dry red chilly - 2
Curry leaves - 8
For garnishing:
Coriander leaves - chopped - 1 tbsp


Method to make Sambar:
Wash the pigeon peas/toor dal well and boil in a cooker with twice the amount of water and 1/2 tsp hing, until soft.
Once the dal has cooked, transfer to a big vessel, and keep on open fire, add tamarind juice and the vegetables, and boil until the veges are cooked.
Now add the sambhar powder and mix well.
Add salt as required.
Bring to boil.
For seasoning:
Take a seasoning pan, keep on low heat, add ghee and then mustard seeds and allow to crackle, then add the red chilly bits, curry leaves and allow to splutter, Now pour over boiling sambar mix.
Serve hot with steaming rice, add ghee to the rice just before serving the sambar.

Home made Sambar Powder recipe: (proportionately alter quantities to make lesser quantity)Coriander Seeds - 500 gms or 2 cups
Whole Dried Red Chillies - 1 kg or 4 cups or depending on spice level.
Toor Dal /Split Yellow Lentils - 200 gms or 3/4 cup
Channa Dal /Gram Dal/Split Chickpeas - 50 gms or 1/4 cup (Adding gram dal will make the sambar gravy thicker. So adjust quantity more or less is according to your choice.)
Turmeric Powder - 2 tsp 
Fenugreek Seeds/Methi seeds - 2 tsp 
Cumin Seeds/Jeera - 2 tsp
Black Pepper Corns - 1 tbsp
Asafoetida /Hing - 1/2 tsp powder
Curry Leaves - 1/2 cup
Oil - 1/2 tsp


Method of Preparation:
1. Clean every thing and spread on a plate and keep it in hot sun for 4 to 6 hours.
2. In a pan /kadai (preferably iron wok), dry roast toor dal, channa dal, on a low heat for 5 minutes till the dals release their flavor and turn golden. Remove and set it aside.
3. Add the fenugreek seeds /methi and roast for couple of minutes till they turn red. Remove and keep aside.
4. Add coriander seeds and roast for 4-5 mts till they turn dark brown and release their flavor. Remove and keep aside. 
5. Add cumin seeds, pepper corns, asafoetida and curry leaves, roast for 2-3 mts. Remove and keep aside.
6. Finally add 1/2 tsp of oil and saute the red chillies on a low flame, so that each of it gets coated with a polish of oil. Saute just for 20 to 25 sec. Remove and set aside.
7. Cool all the ingredients completely. Mix all the roasted ingredients together with turmeric powder and grind it in the flour mill. (Or) grind finely in the coffee grinder or mixer in batches to fine powder.
8. Spread them on a paper to cool before you store. Store it in a dry, air tight container.

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