Saturday, August 31, 2013



Sambar is a typical South Indian dish generally had with rice. This is adapted from a recipe for sambar by Chandra Padmanabhan, the vastly experienced cookery expert of South Indian cuisine from yesteryear. If I remember correctly, this recipe was from her book, "Dakshin". Actually the recipe was for Vengaya Sambar, made of small onions or shallots, but I have modified it to make Mullangi Sambar in which radish or mullangi is the main vegetable.

There are two methods of preparing sambar. What is more common these days is the use of ready made off the shelf sambar powder. However, this recipe involves making the sambar by grinding the required spices yourself. This isn't as difficult as it might sound, and it gives you the authentic flavour the sambar is meant to have.

  • Radish, 2-3
  • Potatoes, small sized, 2
  • Thuar dal, 1/2 cup
  • Turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Tamarind, lemon-sized 
  • Coriander leaves, chopped fine, (for garnishing)
  • Salt, to taste
For the masala:
  • Grated coconut, 3-4 tbsp
  • Oil, 2 tsp
  • Fenugreek  (methi) seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Red chillies, 6-8
  • Asafoetida powder, (hing), 1/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds, (jeera), 1 tsp
  • Coriander seeds, 3 tbsp
  • Bengal gram dal, 1 and 1/2 tbsp
  • Poppy seeds 2 tsp
For tempering:
  • Oil, 2 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds, 1 tsp
  • Cumin seeds, 1 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Red chilli, halved, 1
  • Curry leaves, a few

Wash and clean the radish and potatoes. 
Peel and cut the radish into rounds. Keep aside.
Peel and cut the potatoes into bite sized cubes
Soak the tamarind in 1 and 1/2 cups of water and extract the juice and set aside
Pressure cook the dal and set aside
Cook the radish and potatoes.
To make the paste: Fry in 2 tsp oil the fenugreek seeds, red chillies, asafoetida, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, Bengal gram dal and poppy seeds.
Grind to a fine paste, adding the coconut gratings using very little water. Set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil and add all the ingredients for tempering in the order mentioned.
Next add the cooked radish and potatoes 
Add the tamarind juice, turmeric powder and salt.
Cover and simmer for 5 minutes till the raw smell of the tamarind juice disappears
Add the cooked dal and the ground masala paste and cook for another 5 minutes till everything blends well
If the sambar is too thick, add 1/4 cup of water or as required to get the consistency you prefer and bring to a boil
Garnish with chopped coriander leaves
Serve hot with rice

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