Sambar, the Cornerstone of Any Good South Indian Meal

Sambar, the Cornerstone of Any Good South Indian Meal

The Kerala sambar, like the avial, accommodates all variety of vegetables, from potato to pumpkin and kohlrabi. It is thick and tangy, a slow-moving river of flavour that dredges a central pathway through the ela sadya.

2 cups toor dal
2 onions, roughly chopped
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
15 cloves garlic, whole
1.5 tsp sambar powder
1.5 tsp chilli powder
1/3 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp coriander powder
Salt, to taste
1 drumstick
1/4 kilo lady finger
2 carrots
1/4 kg long beans
1/4 kg ash gourd
1/4 kg white pumpkin

For tempering
1 tbsp ghee
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
4 dry red chillies
1 tsp sambar powder

First, chop the drumstick, lady fingers, carrot, beans, gourd and pumpkin into equal pieces, about 1.5 inches in length.
In a pot, bring water to a boil with salt and chilli powder. Add in these vegetables and cook until done. Set aside. (Don't discard the water).
In a pressure cooker, add in the toor dal, onions, tomatoes, garlic, and spice powders, with 4 cups of water.
Bring to a boil, then fasten the lid and cook on a medium flame for 3 whistles.
Turn off the flame, and open the cooker slowly.
Mash the contents of the cooker with the back of a spoon.
Now, add the previously cooked vegetables (and water) into the cooker with the dal, bring to a boil and then turn off the flame.

For tempering, heat ghee in a shallow pan.
Add in fenugreek and mustard seeds. When they crackle, add in the garlic and allow to brown lightly. Then add in the cumin, dry red chilli, curry leaves and the sambar powder.
Add this to the pot of sambar. Stir well and set aside.
When ready to eat, serve the sambar with a spoon of ghee and freshly chopped coriander.