Being a South Indian, I am expected to make good sambhar. But for the longest time, Sambhar was my eternal nemesis. I could never get the consistency right. It was always too thin. And I used to make the garden variety, which was to use the Sambhar powder. That is called “podi potta sambhar” (sambhar made with powder). Whenever my mom visits US (which has pretty much become every year), she makes the best kind of Sambhar. This is with the coconut ground paste which doesn’t use sambhar powder. After getting away with just making the garden variety one for years, I finally found the courage to try the real thing. And I have got to tell you, my friends, it was finger licking yummilicious!
Vegetable for sambhar (more info below)
Toor dal – 3/4 cup cooked
Tamarind – 2-3 tablespoons of tamarind concentrate or a medium lemon size tamarind
Turmeric – 1 tsp
Asafoetida- a pinch
Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon
For the coconut paste
Coconut – 11/2 cups
Red chillies – 2-4 (depending on spice level)
Coriander seeds – 3 tablespoons
There are many vegetables that you can use for this kind of sambhar. My personal favorite is small onions. You can even use yellow pumpkin (cut into small pieces) or okra (cut into medium size pieces). If you are using small onions, then peel the onions first. The best way to do this is to soak it in warm water for 10 mins. This makes it easy to peel.
Once you have the vegetables ready, fry them a bit in coconut oil.
If you are using tamarind, then soak the lemon size in warm water for 20mins. Squeeze out the tamarind water, you should have around 3 cups. Add tamarind water, turmeric and asafoetida and continue to boil until the vegetables are cooked.
To make the coconut paste, first dry roast the coriander seeds and the red chillies slightly. Grind the coconut and the dry roasted with some warm water. Once it is ground nicely, add to the above tamarind water. Add the cooked dal and cook a bit more. Be advised, do not let the sambar boil. Add salt and finally temper with mustard seeds. Yummy sambar is ready!!!