This is one of the most loved dishes in South Indian cuisine. It accompanies most meals. There are many variations to this sambar recipe depending on different family traditions and different regions.
1 1/2 Tbsp (22 mL) tamarind
1 cup (250 mL) lentils
1/2 tsp (2 mL) turmeric
2 tsp (10 mL) virgin coconut oil
5 small dried red chilies (or to taste)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) mustard seeds
1/2 tsp (2 mL) fenugreek seeds
8 curry leaves (optional)
1 medium onion
1/4 tsp (1 mL) asafetida* (optional)
1 large tomato
1 cup (250 mL) mixed chopped vegetables (such as green beans, zucchini, cabbage, or carrot)
2 Tbsp (30 mL) sambar powder (you can buy this prepared like garam masala)
Unrefined salt, to taste
Cilantro, for garnish
*Commonly used in Indian cooking, this sulphur-smelling spice will tame once cooked. It adds an oniony flavour.
Soak tamarind in 1 cup (250 mL) water for 20 minutes. Squeeze out all pulp and mix with soaked water until you have 1 cup (250 mL) juice. Set aside.
Wash, clean, and drain lentils. In heavy cooking pot boil 4 cups (1 L) water (add more as needed). Add lentils, turmeric, and 1 tsp (5 mL) oil. As lentils boil, skim off foam and discard. Boil until lentils are soft, about 40 minutes, then mash coarsely with fork..
Heat remaining oil in separate pan over medium heat. Once hot, add chilies, mustard seed, fenugreek, and curry leaves (if using) and sauté for 2 minutes.
Add onion, cooking until lightly browned. Add tamarind juice and boil gently until onions are cooked.
Add onion mixture to lentils and add asafetida (if using), tomato, veggies, sambar powder, and salt. Boil mixture for 5 to 10 minutes and remove from heat. Garnish with fresh cilantro. This can also be served as a filling or topping for dosas.
Each serving contains: 74 calories; 3 g protein; 1 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 13 g carbohydrates; 3 g fibre; 22 mg sodium
source: "Culinary Spices for Life", alive #354, April 2012
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