Lentil and Mixed Veggie Curry or Sambar – South Indian Curry

Sambar, a true South Indian delicacy…

Onam is around the corner and it is the biggest festival of Kerala. While thinking about Onam too many good memories rushes into my mind. You have to be in Kerala to celebrate and enjoy Onam to the fullest. Though I couldn’t be in Kerala for Onam for the past few years, every year I make sure to celebrate it with Sadya along with my friends.

Sadya or Kerala’s flavorful veggie palate is not the name of one dish, it has more than 20 dishes served on the plantain leaf. It’s a grant feast and all you can have is veggie dishes, each and every dish has an unique and distinct taste. I’ve already posted the recipes for making Sadya dishes, you could find around 17 recipes in just one post.

Sambar or Lentil and Mixed Veggie Curry is one of the main dishes of Sadya. It is served as the second course along with rice. This curry is often made in most of the Kerala houses and is served with South Indian breakfast dishes like Dosa, Idli and Vada. Last weekend, I made a mini Sadya and so made Sambar. There are a few ways of making sambar, I have already posted the recipe for making Sambar in a quick and easy way without using coconut. So this time I made sambar in a traditional way by using ground coconut masala. I adopted this recipe from a Kerala cooking show. This sambar tasted like the ones we get in South Indian restaurants, I guess I am going to stick to this recipe for a very long time. The preparation process might look long, but it’s totally worth trying. After you taste this you’ll appreciate the effort you have put into making this.

Sambar or Lentil and Mixed Veggie Curry

Ingredients:

To cook in the pressure cooker:

  • Toor dal or Pigeon pea- 1 cup
  • Small onions, whole- 10
  • Carrot, diced- 2
  • Potato, diced- 1 large
  • Eggplant, diced- 2 cups
  • Drumsticks, cut 3 inch long- 2 sticks
  • Ash gourd, diced- 1/2
  • Raw plantain, diced- 1 (optional)
  • Green chilies, halved- 4
  • Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
  • Asafetida- 2 pinches
  • Water- 1/2 cup
  • Salt- to taste

To dry roast and grind:

  • Coconut, grated- 1/2 cup
  • Dry red whole chilies- 5
  • Coriander seeds- 1 1/2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  • Small onions- 5
  • Water- 1/4 cup

Other ingredients:

  • Okra or Lady’s finger, cut 1 inch long- 10
  • Tomatoes, chopped- 2
  • Tamarind juice, freshly squeezed- 6 tbsp (3 inch slice soaked in 6 tbsp warm water)
  • Chili powder- 1 tsp (add only if required)
  • Asafoetida- 1/8 tsp
  • Water- to thin down the gravy
  • Coconut oil- 1 tbsp

For making seasoning:

  • Coconut oil- 3 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds- 2 tsp
  • Whole dry red chilies- 3
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  • Fenugreek seeds- 1 tsp

Instruction

  • Roast the grated coconut, dry red chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, small onions and curry leaves in a pan over medium heat till the coconut turns golden brown in color.
  • Let cool down and grind the roasted coconut mixture along with water to a smooth paste, keep aside.
  • Rinse the toor dal or pigeon peas taken in a strainer under running water.
  • In a pressure cooker, combine toor dal along with the veggies and other ingredients mentioned to “cook in the pressure cooker”.
  • Add 1 tbsp of the ground coconut paste to the veggies and cook till 1 whistle or till veggies have cooked well.
  • In a wok or large pan, add 1 tbsp coconut oil, add okra or lady’s finger to it and saute till it turns slightly tender.
  • Add tomatoes to it and cook. Don’t mash the tomatoes.
  • Now, add the cooked lentil and veggie mixture to the cooked okra and tomatoes, combine well.
  • Combine the rest of the ground mixture (around 4-5 tbsp) with 1/2 cup water and pour this into the veggie mixture.
  • Cook it for 5 minutes.
  • Taste and add salt according to your needs.
  • If you want the sambar to be spicy you could add 1 tsp of chili powder at this time.
  • Soak 3 inch sized tamarind in 6 tbsp warm water, squeeze it into the water, strain the juice from it.
  • Add the tamarind juice to the lentil-veggie mixture, combine well and let it come to a boil.
  • Add 1/8 tsp asafetida and combine well.
  • If the gravy is thick, add some water to thin it down. It shouldn’t be too watery though.
  • Cook for a couple of minutes and cover the pan with its lid, remove from the heat.

Making the seasoning:

  • Heat a frying pan, add oil, add mustard seeds, let it splutter.
  • Add whole dry chilies and curry leaves, saute for a second.
  • Finally add fenugreek seeds, fry for a second, don’t over fry it.
  • Remove from the heat and pour the seasoning over the cooked sambar.
  • Keep the sambar covered for sometime so that the flavors will get into it.
  • Serve in a bowl, sambar can be served along with rice, dosa, idli and vada.

 Tips:

  • If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you could cook this in a large pot, make sure veggies and lentils have cooked well.
  • Drumsticks, ash gourd and raw plantain are available in most Indian and some Asian superstores.
  • Raw plantain is just optional, so you don’t have to add it.
  • Make sure you add asafetida, as this gives a nice aroma and taste to the sambar.
  • If you are using concentrated tamarind paste, use less amount may be 1 tsp or so.
  • Coconut oil makes the sambar taste better, if you don’t have you could use vegetable oil.
  • While making the seasoning, add the fenugreek seeds only at the end and don’t over fry it as it would impart a bitter taste to the sambar.
  •  Adjust the spice and tamarind according to your needs.
  • Sambar would turn thick when kept longer, while heating it add enough water to thin it down.

 

Lentil and Mixed Veggie Curry or Sambar - South Indian Curry
 
Ingredients
To cook in the pressure cooker
  • Toor dal or Pigeon pea- 1 cup
  • Small onions, whole- 10
  • Carrot, diced- 2
  • Potato, diced- 1 large
  • Eggplant, diced- 2 cups
  • Drumsticks, cut 3 inch long- 2 sticks
  • Ash gourd, diced- ½
  • Raw plantain, diced- 1 (optional)
  • Green chilies, halved- 4
  • Turmeric powder- ¼ tsp
  • Asafetida- 2 pinches
  • Water- ½ cup
  • Salt- to taste
To dry roast and grind
  • Coconut, grated- ½ cup
  • Dry red whole chilies- 5
  • Coriander seeds- 1½ tbsp
  • Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  • Small onions- 5 no's
  • Water- very little
Other ingredients
  • Okra or Lady's finger, cut 1 inch long- 10
  • Tomatoes, chopped- 2 no's
  • Tamarind juice, freshly squeezed- 6 tbsp (3 inch slice soaked in 6 tbsp warm water)
  • Chili powder- 1 tsp (add only if required)
  • Asafetida- ⅛ tsp
  • Water- to thin down the gravy
  • Coconut oil- 1 tbsp
For making seasoning
  • Coconut oil- 3 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds- 2 tsp
  • Whole dry red chilies- 3
  • Curry leaves- 1 sprig
  • Fenugreek seeds- 1 tsp
Instructions
  1. Roast the grated coconut, dry red chilies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, small onions and curry leaves in a pan over medium heat till the coconut turns golden brown in color.
  2. Let cool down and grind the roasted coconut mixture along with little water to a smooth paste, keep aside.
  3. Rinse the toor dal or pigeon peas taken in a strainer under running water.
  4. In a pressure cooker, combine toor dal along with the veggies and other ingredients mentioned to "cook in the pressure cooker".
  5. Add 1 tbsp of the ground coconut paste to the veggies and cook till 1 whistle or till veggies have cooked well.
  6. In a wok or large pan, add 1 tbsp coconut oil, add okra or lady's finger to it and saute till it turns slightly tender.
  7. Add tomatoes to it and cook. Don't mash the tomatoes.
  8. Now, add the cooked lentil and veggie mixture to the cooked okra and tomatoes, combine well.
  9. Combine the rest of the ground mixture (around 4-5 tbsp) with ½ cup waterand pour this into the veggie mixture.
  10. Cook it for 5 minutes.
  11. Taste and add salt according to your needs.
  12. If you want the sambar to be spicy you could add 1 tsp of chili powder at this time.
  13. Soak 3 inch sized tamarind in 6 tbsp warm water, squeeze it into the water, strain the juice from it.
  14. Add the tamarind juice to the lentil-veggie mixture, combine well and let it come to a boil.
  15. Add ⅛ tsp asafetida and combine well.
  16. If the gravy is thick, add some water to thin it down. It shouldn't be too watery though.
  17. Cook for a couple of minutes and cover the pan with its lid, remove from the heat.
  18. Making the seasoning:
  19. Heat a frying pan, add oil, add mustard seeds, let it splutter.
  20. Add whole dry chilies and curry leaves, saute for a second.
  21. Finally add fenugreek seeds, fry for a second, don't over fry it.
  22. Remove from the heat and pour the seasoning over the cooked sambar.
  23. Keep the sambar covered for sometime so that the flavors will get into it.
  24. Serve in a bowl, sambar can be served along with rice, dosa, idli and vada.
Notes
If you don't have a pressure cooker, you could cook this in a large pot, make sure veggies and lentils have cooked well.
Drumsticks, ash gourd and raw plantain are available in most Indian and some Asian superstores.
Raw plantain is just optional, so you don't have to add it.
Make sure you add asafetida, as this gives a nice aroma and taste to the sambar.
If you are using concentrated tamarind paste,use less amount may be 1 tsp or so.
Coconut oil makes the sambar taste better, if you don't have you could use vegetable oil.
While making the seasoning, add the fenugreek seeds only at the end and don't over fry it as it would impart a bitter taste to the sambar.
Adjust the spice and tamarind according to your needs.
Sambar would turn thick when kept longer, while heating it add enough water to thin it down.

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