Monday, January 17, 2011

Sambar (a lentil-based vegetable stew)

Sambar is my weakness, that too my moms sambar. It is lightly spiced lentils in a tamarind and coconut sauce, tempered with Indian spices.

In my mom’s version, tamarind juice along with fried and ground coconut (varutharacha) forms an inseparable part of sambar. And usually one veggie will be a star. It’s named according to the star vegetable, like Okra (vendakka) sambar, Brinjal/eggplant (vazhuthanaga) sambar, Drumstick (Muringakka) sambar etc. There are several others, but these three are my most favorite ones. She even makes bitter gourd (Kaipakka/Pavakka) sambar. For me, Okra or drumstick sambar with eggplant stir-fry (mezhukkupuratty) with rice is equal to Heaven on earth. Until I got married, I thought this was the authentic style of making Kerala sambar.

After marriage the story changed. My MIL makes it very differently. The difference is regional. I am a North Keralite whereas my hubby dear is from south. She uses almost all the vegetables in sambar. And sambar is made in two ways, with and without tamarind, but Coconut is never a part of it. Sambar with tamarind juice is usually served along with rice. The sambar without tamarind is served for breakfast along with dosa and idli which are made from fermented batter. This makes sense….right? However, I took some time to get adjusted with this version.

Once I came to US, I started making samabar with all veggies...atleast that way we get to eat lot of veggies. I make both versions. I make my mom’s version with mixed veggies now.

Sambar is so versatile. It’s a common dish in South Indian states. Each state has its typical variation to suit their taste and environment. Regional variations within the states are also very common.  Udupi sambar, Konkani sambar, Chettinad sambar, Thanjavur Sambar, Andhra sambar…..You can go on listing. Today I will just concentrate on the versions I just talked about.

 My Mom’sVersion






1) Toor dal-1/4 cup
    Turmeric-1/4 tsp
    Green chilli-1 (sliced lengthwise)
    Tomato-1
    Potato-1/2
    Shallots-2 (very small)

2) Urad dal-1/4 tsp
    Split chickpeas-1/4 tsp
    Fenugreek seeds-5 grains or 1 pinch powder
    Asafoetida-1 pinch
    Shallot-1 sliced
    Curry leaves-6-7 leaves (I used powder)
    Coconut-2 tbsp
    Coriander powder-2 tsp
    Chilli powder-1 ½ tsp (or as per taste)

3) Vegetables-2 cups (any one or a combination)
4) Tamarind -marble size

5) Mustard-1tsp
    Curry leaves-1 sprig
    Dried red chillies-2-3 broken
    Oil-1 tbsp

6) Coriander leaves

Cook the first set of ingredients in a pressure cooker and mash them slightly. Keep aside. Soak tamarind in a ¼ cup of water. 

Roast the second set of ingredients in the same order as listed in one tsp of oil until nicely browned but not burnt. Cool and grind into a smooth paste.

Cook the veggies with little water. When they are almost cooked, squeeze out the juice from tamarind and add it to the veggies along with required salt. Allow it to to boil. Make sure the tamarind is cooked well. Add the mashed dal and ground paste. Bring to a boil and switch off the stove.

Season with the 5th set of ingredients and pour into the sambar. Finally garnish with coriander leaves and close it with a lid. Allow sometime for all the flavors to mingle before serving.  

My MIL’sVersion




1) Toor dal-1/4 cup
    Turmeric-1/4 tsp
    Green chilli-1 (slit lengthwise)
    Tomato-1

2) Vegetables-2 cups (combination)
     Fenugreek powder-1 pinch
     Asafoetida-1 pinch
     Coriander powder-2 tsp
     Chilli powder-1 ½ tsp (or as per taste)

3) Tamarind -marble size

4) Mustard-1tsp
    Curry leaves-1 sprig
    Dried red chillies-2-3 broken
    Oil-1 tbsp

5) Coriander leaves

Cook the first set of ingredients in a pressure cooker and mash them slightly. Keep aside. Soak tamarind in a ¼ cup of water.

Cook the second set of ingredients with little water. When they are almost cooked, squeeze  the juice from tamarind and add it to the veggies along with required salt. Allow it to boil. Make sure the tamarind is cooked well. Add the mashed dal Bring to a boil and switch off the stove.

Season with the 4th set of ingredients and pour into the sambar. Finally garnish with coriander leaves and close it with a lid. Allow sometime for all the flavors to mingle before serving.

Sometimes my MIL cooks everything except 4th set together and then seasons it. Follow the same method leaving out tamarind and you have sambar served with idli or dosa.

Tips:
1. If you do not like tamarind, just increase the number of tomatoes. Use Tomatoes on 
    vine.
2. The right sambar will be a balanced mixture of spicy, tangy and saltiness.

10 comments:

Sumitha said...

Aa first picture kandittu enikkippo iddli, sambar kazhikkan thonnunu :)
Super !

sindhu said...

super ...variety of sambar...eppozhum undakkkunna onnu diff syyleil undakkumbo nalla taste aanu thanks dear

കല്യാണിക്കുട്ടി said...

Loliiiiiiiiiiii... sambaar adipoli!!! 2 versions-m kaanaan kidu kidu!

Anaamika said...

Loliii... adipoliyayittundu sambhar!!!

jyo... said...

sambar..excellente..!!!!

Urmila said...

thanks ammoose, sindhu, kalyani,anu, jyo.....

Sumitha said...

Innathe dinner ... Iddli and MIL version of sambar..... sambar super :) :) :)

rekha said...

loli, rekha (shruthy in ss) here :-) I tried your mil's version of sambhar today. indeed that is the way we do sambhar in ekm side as well. I did without some main ingredients like curry leaves, still the taste was amazing. I am going to try your mother's version some day too. thanks a lot dear

Urmila said...

you are welcome shruthy

Pearly said...

Urmila,
Made your mothers version of sambar. First time I am making sambar with coconut in it. Very tasty. Thank you.

 
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