Monday, March 19, 2012

Kerala Sambhar

I recently visited my husband's native place in Kerala. I fell in love all over again with the place (Kerala is so beautiful!) and with the cooking as well - yummm! Though it was fresh fish-galore at most meal times, sambhar also made an appearance at times. I really liked the sambhar - it was like a cross between the normal Tamil sambhar and arachuvitta sambhar and so asked for the recipe. Here it is, as gleaned by me through an interpreter (some of S's relatives only speak Malayalam).

Kerala Sambhar

(Try to use coconut oil wherever the recipe calls for oil if you like the taste. It really adds to the dish)

For the masala paste:
2 peppercorns
1 pinch methi seeds
1 pinch jeera seeds
10 curry leaves
2-3 shallots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic
1.5 tbsp grated coconut
A few pinches asafoetida

Roast all the above ingredients in a little oil and grind to a fine paste with a little water.

Extract 1 small lemon-sized ball of tamarind  in 2 cups water.

Add the masala paste to the tamarind extract and set aside.

For the sambhar:
1 medium onion, sliced thin
1 medium tomato, chopped fine
1.5 cups chopped sambhar veggies (okra, pumpkin, carrot etc - Kerala sambhar can include *any* vegetable including raw bananas)
1 slit green chili
3 heaped tsp coriander powder
1 heaped tsp chili powder
1/2 cup tur dal
1/4 tsp turmeric

For tempering:
1 tsp mustard seeds
A pinch asafoetida
5 torn curry leaves

1. Pressure cook the tur dal with 1.5 cups water and the turmeric. When it cools down, mash completely and add 1 more cup water. Set aside.
2. In a wide bottomed pan, add a little oil and toss in the slit green chili and onions. Once the onions change color, add in the tomatoes and salt. Cook well till tomatoes are mashed.
3.  Add in the chopped sambhar veggies, coriander and chili powder and mix well. Cover and cook till the veggies are almost cooked.
4. Now add in the dal-water mixture to the cooked veggies.  Bring to boil and then reduce flame. Cover and cook for 7 minutes.
5. Add in the tamarind-masala mixture. Mix well, bring to a boil and then reduce flame. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.
6. In a different small pan, add in oil and the mustard seeds. When they pop, toss in the hing and the curry leaves. Mix well and add to the boiling sambhar liquid.
7. Turn off heat and cover the sambhar dish with the lid. Let it rest for at least 10 minutes.
8. Adjust for salt and server hot with rice or idlis or dosa.

Like I said, yummy!

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