Friday, March 26, 2010

Recipe: Eyeball It - Sambhar

I make broadly 2 types of sambhar. The first is the traditional one followed from nana's recipe. The other is something I call "Eyeball It - Sambhar". this makes use of a lot of vegetables, so you just keep an eye on it and add and subtract as necesarry. I'm giving both the recipes here. What I made yesterday was an "Eyeball It - Sambhar" but since its diffcult to give quantities for something like that, I'm sharing the other recipe with you too.

Nana's Traditional Sambhar
In pressure cooker
2 tomatoes
2 onions
2 cups of different chopped vegetables
(brinjal and drumsticks essential)
cauliflower/knol khol/moge/ash gourd/potatoes/small sambhar onions/beans/radish/carrots
Cook them with 1/2 cup masoor/tuvar dhal for 1-2 whistles
Give seasoning with mustard, little jeera, red chillies, curry leaves and hing (asafoetida)
Just before turning off the flame add the sambhar powder.
Add tamarind or lime and salt to taste.

The typical Kannadiga (Karnataka) sambhar includes the use of jaggery which sweetens the dish. I'm not a big fan of sweetish sambhar, (Admission:, I hate the sweetish sambhar, I prefer the spicy Tamilain version), so I toss out the jaggery completely.

Eyeball-It Sambhar
Sometimes when I know that I would like to make sambhar or pav bhaji in a few days, I start keeping aside a little bit of the vegetables before cooking to be used after 3-4 days.
Vegetables that can be used are brinjal, drumsticks, cauliflower, knol khol, moge, ash gourd, potatoes, small sambhar onions, beans, radish, carrots.
I consider drumsticks essential for the true flavor of sambhar to come through. But you can continue even if you don't have them on hand.

Cut up the vegetables that you have saved into bite sized pieces. I like to add at least 1 medium potato because it thickens the dish.
Depending on how much vegetables you have, cut up tomatoes and onions into 1/8ths so they have triangular shapes. (sorry, forgot to take a picture of this)
Boil some dhal -masoor will boil fastest or pressure cook some tuvar/arhar dhal or even if you have some leftover dhal whose tempering is not very strong and will blend with the sambhar flavours, you can use that.

In an open pot (I prefer this to a pressure cooker, so I can have all my vegetables cooked just right, rather than the cauliflower and carrots getting overcooked to match the cooking time of the potatoes), boil some water and add vegetables in order of their cooking times.
Potatoes, onions, tomatoes go in first for me. I like the tomatoes and onions to get very well cooked, so their flavours seep into the liquid.
Add a little hing (asafoetida) and methi (fenugreek) seeds at the time of adding the potatoes (to help cut the gassy effects).
If you prefer your carrots firm, add them last.

When the vegetables are half cooked, add the dhal, salt to taste and a pinch of turmeric powder.
Give it a boil.
Then add the tamarind extract/lemon juice/vinegar and sambhar powder and cook for 5-10 minutes
For tempering, I like curry leaves, mustard seeds and red chillies.
The chillies in this picture are short Sudanese chillies (the only spicy kind available in Egypt)
Add the tempering to the sambhar and be careful to avoid splashing (hot oil meeting high quantities of liquid)
The best way is to use the pot cover as a shield between you and the pot.
Serve immediately with dosas or idlis or hot rice.
Other items on the plate are coconut chutney, Chutney pudi chutney, idlis & dosas

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