It is the festive season. Christmas is just around the corner and it will be a brand new year very soon. This year has been a mixed bag. A lot of good things and a few not so good things. But hey, that is what life’s all about. Isn’t it ? You have to keep your optimism in tact and not let the negativity pull you down.
One of the awesome things that happened this year – we bought a Christmas tree, our first one ever. Me and the husband talked about it and we both agreed that the Christmas tree represents the very thing I just spoke about – optimism . It symbolizes life. It is a remnant from the pagan times when people used to bring branches of evergreen trees like spruce and pine into their homes as a symbolic representation of life in the cold of winter which represents the dark, sadness and death. It is that optimism that gets us through the dark times in life hoping for a brighter and better tomorrow.
One good thing about winter is that it gives me a reason to make one of my absolute favorite recipes.
“Sambar” is a very popular south Indian dish which is basically a spicy lentil stew or soup made with vegetables, lentils and tamarind. It is popular across south India, but is most widely associated with the state of Tamil Nadu. There are many regional variations of this dish across south India and I wanted to share a regional variation from the town of Udupi, Karnataka a neighboring state to Tamil Nadu. There is a rich tradition of food in Udupi and a specific style of restaurant (The Udupi cafe) named after the town that serves primarily breakfast is popular not only in India but across the world.
- 3 oz or 100 gm Brinjal / Eggplant (cubed)
- 1 small Radish (sliced)
- 1 medium Indian cucumber (cubed)
- 4 oz / 150 gm Tomatoes (cubed)
- 1 medium Red onion (sliced)
- 1/2 cup Toor dal / Pigeon pea
- 1/2 cup Masoor dal / Red lentils
- 2 oz / 55 gm Tamarind
- 2 Green chilies (Hot thai chili) (sliced)
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1 tsp Red chili powder
- 1 tablespoon Sambar powder
- 1 tablespoon Coriander powder
- Salt for taste
- 1/2 tsp Jeera / Cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
- A sprig of curry leaves
- 1/4 tsp Asafoetida (hing)
- 4 Garlic cloves
- 2 Dried red chilies
- 2 sprigs of Coriander / Cilantro
Prep time 10 min
Cook time 40 min
Passive time 20 min
Recipe level Intermediate
Spice level 4 (On a scale of 1 to 6)
Shelf life 1 – 2 days in refrigerator using an airtight container
Serving suggestion Warm with idli / vada / rice
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- Soak tamarind in 1 cup of water.
- Boil the lentils with 2 cups water and a pinch of turmeric powder.
- Extract the thick paste/juice from the soaked tamarind pulp.
- In a deep pot, heat oil. Add slit green chilies and two sliced garlic cloves.
- Add the radish and cook for 2-4 min.
- Add the red onions, saute for a minute.
- Add the egg plant and cucumber. Cook for 2-4 min.
- Add the red chili powder and salt.
- Add tomatoes and tamarind pulp. Mix well.
- Mash the boiled lentils using a potato masher or a hand blender.
- Add the mashed lentils to the pot. Cook for 5-8 min.
- Add sambar powder and coriander powder. Mix well and cook for 5 min.
- For tempering, in a small sauce pan heat oil.
- Add chopped garlic cloves.
- Once the garlic turns slightly brown.
- Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and dried red chilies.
- After 5-10 seconds add the curry leaves and asafoetida.
- Add the tempering to the pot. Mix well.
- Switch off the flame and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve warm !
- I used peanut oil for this recipe.
- You can use just the toor dal, if you prefer.