Childcare and You

Childcare and You

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sambar - Central Malabar / valluvanaadan style

Sambar is a curry that is loved by all because of its versatility. It can be had for breakfast and lunch as an accompaniment with idli/dosa/uttampam/upma/puri/ rice...the list is endless. I have seen people having it with bread and pav too.

Just as culture, tradition, topography and environment of each state in India is different, the cuisine of each state differs with respect to its climate, staple crops, spices and cooking techniques.

Although sambar is a staple food of south India and is prepared by all the four states, which is Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, the method and the taste differs to some extent. In fact, sambar is differently prepared in different parts of Kerala.

The method that I have given below has been improvised by me a little, from the traditional method and I can assure you that you will love its outcome.


for frying - 1/2 tsp methi seeds, 1 inch piece of asafoetida/hing (preferably the dark whole resin variety instead of the powder), 5 madras onions peeled, 2 sprigs of curry leaves / kadipatta, 6 dry red chillies or 2 tsp red chilli powder, 4 tsp of eastern sambar powder, 1/2 coconut grated.

Vegetables needed for sambar - 250 gms of white pumpkin, chopped into medium sized pieces,  2 drumsticks chopped into 3 inches long pieces, 15 madras onions peeled, 1 tomato.

 asafoetida                                                          madras onions

 eastern sambar powder


At the outset, soak tamarind (size of a small amla/indian gooseberry) in water. Cook the tur dal well with 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder added to it, separately in a pressure cooker.

In a kadai or a pan, heat 1 tsp oil. Fry the piece of asafoetida on all sides, remove from heat and keep aside. Then, add 1/2 tsp of methi seeds, as soon as they change color, quickly remove them from heat before they get burnt. Add the onions and curry leaves and fry them until the onions turn transparent. Remove from heat and keep aside. Finally, add the grated coconut and roast it until the moisture leaves the coconut. Add 4 tsp of eastern sambar powder and 2 tsp of red chilli powder and fry for another few minutes.  Transfer all the fried ingredients into a mixer and grind it to a fine paste.

Meanwhile, in a vessel, put the chopped vegetables. Squeeze the soaked tamarind with your fingers well and add the tamarind water to the chopped water. Add some more water to the vegetables until they are barely covered and cook them.

Once it is cooked, add the ground masala paste to the vegetables, stir well, add a little water, if needed and allow it to come to a boil. Keep stirring occasionally to prevent it from getting burnt at the bottom of the vessel (it is likely to burn, if it is a stainless steel vessel).

After it boils for 3 to 4 minutes, add the cooked dal and stir well again. Don't add too much water and make the sambar too runny consistency. When the sambar comes to a boil for a couple of minutes, turn off heat.

In a small kadai, heat 1 tsp oil and add 1 tsp mustard seeds and 1 dry red chilli. After the mustard seeds crackle, pour it into the sambar. Garnish with 2 tbsps of chopped coriander leaves on the top of the sambar and serve hot with steamed rice. 

Note : The flavor of sambar is enhanced with ' asafoetida gum' unlike the powder, which does not have much flavor.

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