Sambar (pronounced saambaar) is a south-Indian dish originating from the state of Tamilnadu. It is a lentil-based vegetable stew usually served with dosa or idli, and also eaten with steamed rice as one of the main courses in everyday south Indian cuisine. As per food experts, the mention of the dish sambar can be found in literature dating back to the 17th century. Although sambar is a lentil-based vegetable stew, its taste and ingredients differs from state to state and also from different region. The sambar that we make in Kerala is actually a bit different than the one that we get from other states like Tamil Nadu,Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. The sambar made in these states only have very little vegetables, whereas the one prepared in Kerala contain a lot of vegetables.
Let us try our Kerala Sambar or Mixed vegetable Sambar:
Vegetables normally added to Kerala Sambar.
- Plantain/Banana (Vazhakka)
- Elephant Yam (Cheena)
- Drum Sticks (Muringakka)
- Okra/Lady’s Finger (Vendakka)
- Sambar Cucumber (Velarikka)
- Ash Gourd (Kumbalanga)
- Ivy Gourd (Kovakka)
- Pumpkin (Mathanga)
- Brinjal (Vazhuthananga)
- Vegetables cut into pieces (medium sized) – 3-4 cups (You can use either all or combination of the above vegetables)
- Sambar Parippu / Tuvara Parippu (Sambar Dal / Toor Dal) – 1/2 cup
- Sliced Onion, medium size (savala) – 1
- Green chillies slit in half – 2
- Garlic – 4 or 5 cloves
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
- Tamarind – Size of a small gooseberry
- Chopped coriander leaves – 2 tsp
- Red Chilly powder – 1 tsp
- Coriander Powder – 2 tsp
- Sambar Powder – 3 tsp
- Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
- Whole Red Chillies – 3
- Curry Leaves – A sprig
- Shallots or Pearl Onions (diced) – 1/4 cup
- Asafoetida (Kayam) – A pinch
- Coconut Oil – 3 tbsp
- Water – As needed
- Salt – As per taste
Method of Preparation:
- Heat a pressure cooker and add 1 tbsp of coconut oil and saute the sliced big onions, garlic and green chillies for about 2 minutes.
- After that add the diced vegetables and dal along with salt and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and close the cooker. Pressure cook all the ingredients on medium to medium-high flame for up to 2 whistles. (While using pressure cooking, please be sure to add enough water so as to cover the vegetables)
- Soak tamarind that we have already take in 1/2 cup of lukewarm water for 3-4 minutes. Squeeze and take the extract from and keep it aside.
- When the dal and vegetables are done, remove the pressure cooker lid and add in the extracted tamarind water. Stir and simmer for some more time on low flame. Check salt and add if needed.
- After that add the chopped coriander leaves and and sprinkle asafoetida powder. Stir and simmer for some time (2 or 3 minutes). Remove it from the flame and keep aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoon of coconut oil in a round-bottom pan (chenachatti) and add the mustard seeds. Allow the mustard seeds to splutter.
- After that add the shallots, red chillies and curry leaves and fry for a minute.
- Then mix the sambar powder, coriander powder and chilli powder to it and fry the same for 2 more minutes on a low flame. Stir continuously.
- Now pour the mix into the sambar and mix well for a few minutes. Remove from flame and serve hot.