Sambhar is a staple dish in South India. It is eaten with rice, is a key side dish with idli, dosa, and vada. As with any dish, there are innumerable variations to the same dish. Over the years, I have evolved my sambhar recipe as well and this is how I make it.
1/2 cup toor dal (yellow split lentils)
1 onion (cut into large pieces) or peeled pearl onions
1-2 carrots (cut into 1 in strips)
1/4 bottle gourd (cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 tomato (cut into pieces)
1-2 drumsticks (optional)
A little white radish (cut into pieces or rings)
some green beans (8-10) cut into 1 in pieces
2-3 stalks of chopped cilantro
A few curry leaves
1-2 dry red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
A little tamarind (fresh de-seeded or paste)
Touch of asafoetida
Touch of turmeric powder
1-2 tsp oil (vegetable or peanut oil)
1-2 tsp MTR sambhar powder
1 tsp salt
Boil all the vegetables until cooked in a dish with some water or in a pressure cooker. Add one cup water and cook the dal until cooked. In a large pan, add some oil and fry the seasoning – cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red chillies with some asafoetida and turmeric powder. When the mustard seeds start crackling add the curry leaves and mix. Add the boiled vegetables with any remaining water. Mash the cooked dal into almost a paste and add to the mix. Soak some fresh tamarind (a small handful) in water and squeeze the juice out and add to the mix. Add some fresh (or dry) grated coconut, salt to taste and sambhar powder. Continue boiling for 15-20 minutes until all the ingredients mix well and the aromas penetrate. Garnish with some fresh cilantro.
Best when eaten hot with some rice or with idli, dosa or vada.