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 1/4 Tbsp (25 ml) tamarind
1 cup (250 ml) lentils
1/2 tsp (2 ml) turmeric
2 tsp (10 ml) virgin coconut oil
small dried red chillies (or to taste)
1/2 tsp (2 ml) mustard seeds
1/2 tsp (2 ml) fenugreek seeds
8 curry leaves (optional)
1/4 tsp (1 ml) asafoetida* (optional)
1 cup (250 ml) mixed chopped vegetables (such as green beans, zucchini, cabbage or carrot)
1 1/2 Tbsp (30 ml) sambar powder (you can buy this prepared like garam masala)
Unrefined salt, to taste
Coriander, 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 chillies, 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 asafoetida (if using), tomato, vegies, sambar powder and salt. Boil mixture for 5 to 10 minutes and remove from heat. Garnish with fresh coriander. This can also be served as a filling or topping for dosas.
Each serving contains: 310 kilojoules; 3 g protein; 1 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 13 g carbohydrates (6 g sugars, 3 g fibre); 22 mg salt
source: “Culinary Spices for Life“, alive Australia, Autumn 2013