Sambhar (Indian lentil-stew)

Sambhar (Indian lentil-stew)

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a very popular Southern Indian lentil-stew, especially as an accompaniment to dosai.

It is dead easy to prepare (once you have prepared your Sambhar powder), incredibly healthy and a great way to use up the lentils you probably have left over from winter soups.

Let it simmer and double the recipe so you have plenty leftover for lunch.

Yum.

Ingredients

100gm Yellow lentils or Tour Dal
¼ tsp Turmeric
1 cup Tomato puree (passata)
1 medium-size onion, diced
1 tbsp Sambhar powder*
¼ tbsp Tamarind concentrate
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
Salt to taste

*Sambhar powder (makes plenty; stores for 6-months)

1 ½ cups coriander seeds
1 cup dried red chillis, broken into small pieces
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 ½ tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
½ inch cinnamon stick
⅓ cup unsweetened dried coconut, shredded
¼ cup firmly packed fresh curry leaves
1 tsp asafoetida powder**

Method

For the Sambhar

  1. Cook the lentils with the turmeric in approximately 2 litres of water until soft and mushy.
  2. Add the tomatoes and onions and cook until they are soft.
  3. Add the Sambhar powder, tamarind concentrate, fresh curry leaves and salt to taste and bring to the boil. Simmer for a bit.
  4. Check the seasoning, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot.

Sambhar powder

  1. Heat small saucepan over low heat. Separately dry-roast coriander, chilli peppers, fenugreek, mustard, cumin and cinnamon until fragrant and only lightly coloured. Place in a bowl.
  2. Toast coconut in pan, stirring, until lightly browned. Add to spices.
  3. Dry-roast curry leaves, tossing often, until crisp. Add to spices with asafoetida. Mix well and let cool.
  4. Place mixture in airtight container until ready to use. (Will keep for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.) Just before using, grind to a powder in spice grinder and use as recipe indicates.

** Enhances colour and flavour and settles the stomach; unless you have it or feel inclined to get it, you can live without.

Potato Pallya

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Potato Pallya, about to be folded into a dosai!

Potato Pallya

Serves: 4 – 8 dosai

Lordy, this is a seriously fine dosai filling.

In fact, it is as good as I have had at any restaurant.

The trick is to ensure that the final product is not too oily. If anything is going to kill the delicate shell of your dosai, it is oil.

Otherwise, be as adventurous with the spices as you want with this recipe. Make it sing with flavour, smoke, spice and flavour. And don’t worry that the lentils will be crunchy… that is half the fun.

Boom!

Ingredients

1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ tsp black mustard seeds
½ tbsp split chickpea lentils
½ tbsp split black lentils
1 – 2 dry chillis, torn
¼ tsp Asafoetida powder*
¼ turmeric powder
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
Half an onion, sliced
Salt to taste
250gm potatoes, boiled, peeled and roughly mashed
¼ bunch fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Method

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the black mustard seeds and allow to splutter.
  2. Add both the lentils and cook on a medium heat, stirring constantly until the lentils turn a light golden in colour.
  3. Add the chillis and the asafoetida powder and cook for a few moments.
  4. Add the turmeric and the curry leaves and cook for a few moments.
  5. Add the onions and salt and cook until the onions turn translucent. Add the mashed potatoes and mix well.
  6. Cook on a medium heat for a few minutes, checking the seasoning.
  7. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
  8. Use as the filling of a dosai. Or just eat it because it is seriously that good!

* I know, I had only heard of this once and I didn’t know what it was. Like turmeric which is really only used to enhance colour (and flavour), so too is Asafoetida powder. Though more so to reduce flatulence as far as I can tell. If you can get it, awesome, if not, not to worry.