Ever since I started cooking, I was giving a quasi south Indian style fried vegetable tadka to arhar/toor dal to make a punjabi version of sambhar. I know that sounds like sacrilege! Specially when it’s coming from a food blogger. But in my defence, I became a home cook first, then a food blogger. There has obviously been a learning curve.
Check out our story today for our dosa (mis)adventures! 😬🙈 In the picture you see dosas made with store bought batter and some homemade drumstick sambhar.🍛 Do you have any tips for making the perfect dosa? 👩🏽🍳Share them in the comments👇🏽 Stay tuned and follow us for some more dosa stories.. . . . #kitchenpostcards #vsco #vscofood #eeeeeats #healthy #crepes #indianfood #vegan #vegetarian #huffposttaste #food52 #f52gram #foodie #foodgawker #dubai #pennsylvania #foodstagram #fooddxb #foodpennsylvania #dosa #dosanddonts
It was definitely tasty but was not the real thing! The consistency was thick, it was much heavier and the vegetables weren’t al dente. But the flavours were more or less there.
Until in 2015, my mother in law taught me how to cook an authentic sambhar!
And boy was I amazed at the simplicity of the recipe; how very little oil was used and the vegetables are just cut into big cubes to be boiled, not fried!
It was a healthy soupy dish that was way too yummy to be called healthy food. In our house, we often use masoor dal instead of toor/arhar to make it even healthier. (Masoor dal is lighter and more digestible!)
Sambar is a spiced lentil dish/soup that has a mix of vegetables and is sour because of the use of tamarind.
Last night's #Onam #Sadhya #dinner! 😋 On the menu: Sambar, Parippu Dal Curry, Cabbage Thoran, Pulli Inji, Carrot Moong Coconut Salad, Rice, Poppadum and Payasam!! Oh and there was Rasam too! 🙃 A Sambar recipe would be on the blog soon! Watch this space! . . . #kitchenpostcards #foodie #onam #sadhya #love #foodstagram #food52 #f52grams #dinner #southindian #indian #vegan #veganrecipe #veganfoodshare #feast #huffposttaste #eeeeats #healthyfood #kerala #cuisine #vegetarian
I think each South Indian household has it’s own recipe of Sambhar and a favourite brand of sambhar powder that they swear by! But you’ll be surprised to learn that it was in fact the Marathas that created Sambhar and not the Tamils.
There are different legends as to how this came about. One was that it was created in honour of Shivaji’s son Sambhoji when he visited his uncle Venkoji in Tanjore. This dish was similar to what the Marathis call Amti.
Another legend says that it was created because Sambhoji’s kitchen was out of kokam berries (used for sourness) in making Amti dal. A chef suggested the use of tamarind instead and thus a new dish was born. Food historians like Pushpesh Pant stand by these legends as there has been no mention of the dish before the Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu) Maratha alliances came into being in the 17th Century.
Of course now, each state has it’s own style of making Sambhar. The Karnataka sambhar even uses jaggery to sweeten this spicy dish while another Kerala variety has coconut milk or grated roasted coconut paste in it. The Andhra sambhar is definitely spicer than the rest! My mother in law’s Sambhar recipe is a Kerala sambhar with potatoes in it and is quite close to this Maria’s Menu Sambhar recipe.
1/2 cup Arhar/ Toor dal
3 cups water
salt to taste
3-4 tsp sambhar powder
1 sliced onion
2 tomatoes chopped
2 Moringa Drumsticks
1 carrot diced
1 potato diced
a small ball of tamarind, soaked in water
1 cup shallots peeled and sliced
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp Asafoetida
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 sprigs of curry leaves
2 dried red chillis
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp Sesame oil
Boil the Arhar dal in 1 and 1/2 cups water with salt and turmeric for 2-3 whistles.
Add carrots. potato, tomato, beans and all other vegetables with another cup of water and let it boil for 5-7 minutes. The amount of water added can be left to your personal preference. Some people prefer their sambar to be thick so adjust the amount of water accordingly. There is a lot of boiling required so the water content does eventually reduce.
Next add tamarind water and some more salt if required.
Let this boil for another 5 minutes.
Till then, prepare for the tempering. I usually soak the shallots or ulli (in Malayalam) in cold water for 10 minutes so that they can be peeled easily. Peel and roughly slice the shallots.
In a small kadhai or pan, heat sesame oil on low heat. Next add the mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add curry leaves, red chilli and shallots. Fry till the shallots become translucent and then add sambar powder and coriander powder.
I use Eastern Sambhar powder as recommended by my mother in law and her mother who we fondly call Ammuma. Ammuma recommends that Eastern Sambhar powder should be used with at least 2-3 tsps of coriander powder as that is what she feels it lacks. When I first heard her tip, I was awed by the fact that she knows the nuances so well. Ever since, I believe that if there were a Sambhar appreciation society, Ammuma would definitely be a honorary member. Such is her level of expertise!
Mix well and add 2 tbsp water. Cook for a minute and transfer this tempering to the sambar. Cook for another five to seven minutes and it’s done!
Sambhar is best served piping hot over rice or with dosas or idlis. However, we usually make it ahead of time as the flavours seep in and it tastes better and thicker the next day.
I prepared this lot a day before for the Onam Sadhya this year!
Serve this Simple Sambar with dosas, idlis, hot rice and other Sadhya staples!
More South Indian recipes on the blog: