Sambar is a flavorful spicy South Indian lentil soup made with a variety of vegetables. It fits nicely with many South Indian meals, including dosas (pancakes), idlis (savory cakes), and rice. It could be said that a South Indian meal is incomplete without sambar.
- 1/2 cup toor dal/arhar dal available in any Indian grocery store
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (haldi)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seed (methi)
- 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
- Pinch of asafetida (hing)
- 10-12 curry leaves
- 4 dry whole red chilies
- 1 large tomato cubed in small pieces
- 1-½ cups mixed vegetables, cute into bite-size cubes (green beans, carrots, zucchini, radishes)
- 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sambar powder, available in any Indian grocery store
- Wash and soak the dal in two cups of water for ten minutes or longer.
- In a pressure cooker combine soaked dal with 2½ cups of water, salt, and turmeric. Cook over medium high heat.
- When the pressure cooker starts to steam, reduce the heat to medium and cook for another six minutes.
- Turn off the heat and wait until steam has escaped before opening the pressure cooker. Dal should be soft and mushy.
- Mix the dal well enough to remove lumps. If the dal is thick, add up to one cup of water.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan. Test the heat by adding one cumin seed to the oil; if it cracks immediately, the oil is ready.
- Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, asafetida, red chilies, and curry leaves. Stir for a few seconds.
- Add tomatoes, vegetables, sambar powder, tamarind pulp and ½ cup water.
- Cover the pan and let the vegetables cook until they are tender over medium heat.
- Combine the vegetables and the dal to make the Sambar. Sambar should be thin, like soup. If the sambar is thick, add water as needed.
- Cook sambar on low heat for 10-15 minutes.
Serve Sambar with dosa, idli, rice or with any meal as a side.