Sambhar

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.

Ingredients
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.

Uttappam: It’s what’s for breakfast!

 Now that I have taken an initial dive at writing this cooking blog, I am on a roll. Today I am going to provide a recipe of my favorite south Indian breakfast item: Uttappam. This is predominantly a breakfast item made in the four south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Each state has it’s own unique flavor to it. Further different batter combination can be used to make it.

Not sure if this is the traditional way to  make it. But this is how I make it. It’s fast, easy  and healthy to boot!

Ingredients:
1 cup urad dal (dehusked split black gram)
2-3 cups idli rava (granualated rice)
Chopped onion
Chopped tomato
Chopped cilantro
Some frozen peas
Chopped jalapeno (optional)

 

Soak the urad dal in some water for 6-8 hrs. In a separate bowl soak the idli rava for the same time. I tend to use 2 cups of idli rava for 1 cup of urad dal. But some people tend to use 2 1/2 or even 3 cups of rava for 1 cup of urad dal. Once the soak urad dal is ready, rinse it  and put it in a wet grinder to make smooth batter. Do not use too much water, just enough to blend it into a thick batter. Transfer the batter to a large bowl. Lightly squeeze water from the idli rava and toss it into the batter in handfuls. Add a teaspoon of salt and mix well. Set aside. To allow the batter to set, keep it aside for at least 6-8 hrs or leave it outside overnight. To prevent the batter from getting too sour, do not leave outside for more than 24 hrs. Note that these ingredients are easily available in your local Indian grocery store. At some stores you might even be able to pick up ready to cook batter.

To make an uttapam take about 3 table spoons of the batter in a small bowl. Mix in the chopped onion, tomato, cilantro, jalapeno(optional) and some peas. Mix well and add some water to achieve good consistency batter that you can easily pour in a pan (similar to a pancake). Place a wide pan on the stove on low to medium heat. Add 1-2 table spoons of oil and glaze the whole pan with some grease. Spread out the batter on the pan. Adjust pan size and amount of batter to make a round 8-9 in diameter uttapam. Sprinkle some crushed pepper if desired. Cover with a lid and cook on low flame for 5-10 minutes until lightly golden. Flip the uttapam carefully and cook the other side likewise till lightly golden. Can add another tablespoon of oil if desired.

Serve hot by itself or with coconut chutney or  tomato chutney or sambhar or a combination of one or all. My favorite is to actually use a sweet and sour ginger chutney. All recipes forthcoming for these and other delicious fare soon.

Left over batter can be refrigerated and used for up to a week. Any combination of vegetables can be used.  I like to sometimes cut carrots into thin circles and decorate my uttappam like a pizza. So improvise and throw in your favorite veges while you experiment with it. But most of all enjoy!

Stay tuned for another recipe tomorrow: for another healthy, tasty breakfast item with the same batter.

Vegetarian Chilli

Soups… Soups.. Soups can’t get enough of them!

This recipe came to me after passing through several people and several variations. And naturally I had my own improvisations to it.

Ingredients:
1/2 onion chopped
2-3 garlic cloves chopped
1 bell pepper cubed into small pieces
1 zucchini cubed into small pieces
2 large tomatoes chopped
1 cup of kidney beans
3-4 table spoons olive oil
1 minced jalapeno
1 tsp salt or as needed
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin powder
a few crushed pepper flakes if desired (optional)


Soak dry kidney beans overnight in some water. Precook kidney beans preferably in a pressure cooker for speed.

In a large pot add oil and saute onion, and garlic until lightly brown. Add bell pepper, jalapeno and zucchini  and toss. Add tomatoes, salt to taste, cumin powder, paprika and crushed pepper flakes. Mix well. Finally add cooked kidney beans. Cook on low flame for two hours. Makes 4 servings.

Serve with some sour cream or yogurt and jalapeno.

(Recipe passed on to me by Pavani)




Lebanese Lentil Soup

I constantly crave spicy food. I stock up my kitchen with myriads of peppers and other spices to add that extra touch of oh! to my food.

Yet there are times when just the right mix of ingredients yields a delicious result that needs no spices to ramp it  up another notch! Something simple yet so delicious.

This recipe is concocted from different sources — friends and from tasting it in a Lebanese restaurant
Ingredients:

2 cup of lentils
1 bunch of spinach (or swiss chard) chopped
1/2 turnip (or potato) cubed into small squared
1 tsp salt or as desired
1 small onion or 1/2 an onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic minced
Touch of black pepper
1-2 tsp olive oil

Soak the lentils overnight. In a large pot saute onions and garlic in the oil until lightly brown. Toss in the spinach, and turnip and mix well. Add the lentils, salt and pepper along with  4-5 cups of water and lemon juice. My quick recipe calls for cooking this in a pressure cooker until the first whistle. Stop sooner if desired. If cooking in a pot cook in low flame until cooked to the desired consistency. Servings: 4-5.

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