Sambar is another spicy vegetable lentil curry very commonly cooked in many South Indian households. Because it is such a basic curry, it will be a shame if any South Indian doesn't know how to cook this!!
Sambar can be served with plain boiled rice, steamed rice cakes ( idlis), fried lentil doughnuts ( medhu vadais), lentil crepes (dosas)- well just about any South Indian snack!! And it is rather nutritious because of the boiled lentils and stewed vegetables.
My girls love Sambar with Grilled Tofu and Okra or Tofu Sambal. The following recipe is for 4 in a household.
Ingredients for Dal Stew
1/2 cup toor dal ( pigeon peas)
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 medium onion, chopped finely
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped finely
3 cups water
Method for Dal Stew
Boil the toor dal with garlic, onion and tomatoes in pressure cooker for 10 mins till well cooked and mushy. Mash and keep aside.
Ingredients for Vegetable Stew
1/2 radish, cut into half and sliced thinly
4 pieces of 3 inch drumsticks (veg)
10 pieces beans, cut into 3 inch pieces
1 small carrot, sliced thinly
1 tsp tamarind pulp, juice extracted
3 tsp sambar powder ( See Note)
3 cups water
Salt to season
Method for Vegetable Stew
Boil all the vegetables with water, sambar powder, tamarind extract and salt for 10-15 mins till vegetables are cooked.
Mix these vegetables with the Dal Stew and keep aside on low heat.
Ingredients for tempering
5-6 curry leaves
2 dried chillies, torn into 2
1/4 tsp each of fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and coriander seeds
1 tbsp Sesame oil for tempering
Method for tempering
Fry the dried chillies, curry leaves and all the seeds in sesame oil. Pour this tempering oil with all the ingredients in to the pot with the vegetables and dal.
Serve hot with rice, a vegetable dish, mango pickle and pappads.
Many other vegetables can be used too like okra, potatoes, eggplants etc. It is quite a versatile dish.
Sambar powder can be found in many Indian grocery stores. It is made up of ground whole dry spices and lentils. Or you can make your own at home.