Sambar

adapted from Curried Favors by Maya Kaimal MacMillen

This is a spicy stew of legumes and vegetables, a staple in Southern India.  It is essential that the fenugreek, asafetida, and tamarind are used, because they provide the distinctive tangy quality.   Serve with Coconut Chutney.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup thoor dahl or yellow split peas
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp tamarind concentrate
  • 1Tbsp hot water
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground asafetida
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp Sambar spice blend
  • 1 large boiling potato, peeled and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup cut green beans
  • 1 green chili, split lengthwise
  • 5 to 6 sprigs cilantro
  • 10 curry leaves or 2 bay leaves

{Sambar Spice blend:

  • 4 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/8 tsp asafetida

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in airtight jar.}

Soak dahl or split peas in water for 4-7 hours, then rinse and drain.   In a small saucepan combine thoor dahl or split peas, 1 1/4 cups water, and turmeric and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to low and simmer, covered, for 30 – 45 minutes or until very soft.

While dahl cooks, dissolve tamarind concentrate in 1 Tbsp hot water;  set aside.

In a 3 quart covered saucepan over medium-high heat, heat mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, and asafetida in oil until mustard seeds begin to pop.

After the seeds have popped for a few moments, add 2 cups water, salt, spice blend, dissolved tamarind, potato, tomatoes, onion, green beans, green chili, cilantro, and curry or bay leaves, and simer over medium-low heat until the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes).

When dahl is cooked and completely tender, mash with a potato masher or back of a spoon 6 to 8 times, to break up roughly.  Stir into cooked vegetable and spice mixture in saucepan and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Add more water if necessary to attain a soupy consistency.     Serves 8

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