Sambhar… more or less

This is sort of a cheat sambhar.  The cheat part is the dal. Toor dal is traditionally used, but it does take more time to cook. So today I have used masoor dal(*you could also use moong dal)000000. The flavor is a little different, but still tasty. This particular sambhar goes especially well with idli, but also good with rice.

This is enough for 2-3 people… you could make a bigger batch if you prefer.

  • 1/3c dal rinsed
  • 1 1/3c water
  • pinch of turmeric
  • 1 red potato chopped
  • handful of green beans chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • half red onion chopped
  • 1/2t mustard seeds
  • hing
  • methi seeds
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1t sambhar powder
  • 1t coriander powder
  • 1/2t red chili powder (or less)
  • salt
  • tamarind (1Tbs size soaked in water)

Wash the dal and add to the pressure cooker with water, turmeric, and the veggies up to and including onion. Pressure cook for 2 whistles. This can also be done in a regular pot for about 20 minutes since masoor dal cooks fairly quick.

Once it whistles, remove the pan from the heat and wait for the pressure to release. In the meantime, heat a pan and add a couple teaspoons oil. I often use coconut oil for health reasons and I think the flavor goes well with Indian food. Add mustard seeds once the oil is hot and they should start popping almost immediately. Add a pinch of hing and the methi (fenugreek) seeds. Then add the chopped tomatoes and salt. Cover the pan for a few minutes and the tomato will become very soft. At this point, mash the tomatoes in the pan then add the masala powders. It will form a paste like consistency and you will see oil at the sides of the paste. That’s exactly what you want. Now, add the tomato mixture to the dal and bring it back to a boil. Squish and squeeze the tamarind pulp into the water and strain. Add to dal. You will probably need to add another cup or so of water at this point (I use the water to rinse out the tomato pan, so I don’t lose any of that yumminess). Boil the sambhar (more like a simmer) for about 10 minutes to cook the tamarind, then turn off the heat. Let it sit for some time so the flavors blend before serving (if you can wait!).


Comments on: "Sambhar… more or less" (10)

  1. What a fantastic combination of ingredients! looks delicious!

  2. I’m going to have to try this — I’ve gotten pretty good at dal using toor dal, but sambhar is not something I’ve had the confidence to tackle.

    Couple of questions:

    – What’s “hing”?
    – Do you use an old-school pressure cooker? We have one that my hubby’s mom brought over and it intimidates me, but I’d love whatever tips you can give me on using it. Sadly, though, our stove is electric.

  3. This definitely gets my mouth watering, yum! What’s sambhar powder?

  4. Looks good… Do you make your own sambhar powder or do you buy one?

  5. Dimah, thanks again!

    Heidi, hing is asafoetida – you can read more about it here
    It is said to help “digestion” but be sure to just use a sprinkle! A little goes a long way. And yes I do use the old school cooker. We actually bought a fancy western one (Fagor- for a good deal lol) and I don’t like it because Im lost without the “whistles”! Don’t be intimidated. I haven’t had a single mishap in 10 years. Here is what to do: do not fill it more than halfway with dal, vegs and/or liquid (there are also containers you can cook with within the cooker but more on that later). JF says to put the lid on then crank up the heat until steam comes out and then only put the “weight” on. Sometimes I skip that step. The important thing is not to remove the lid before the pressure goes down, or you can really get hurt/burned. You must wait at least 10 minutes. Mine has a little valve that pokes up while there is pressure and goes down when it reduces. Always remove the weight before opening. SLOWLY open the lid. If its not opening dont force it, and open it away from yourself. You can also run cold water over it to be sure the pressure is out, but this can damage the pan I have heard. I will make a separate post on this with more details, hopefully in the near future 🙂

    fbatd, Thanks! Sambhar powder is a mix of several ground spices particularly red chilies, coriander, fenugreek, and turmeric. You can find it in Indian grocery stores and online. MTR is a well known brand.

    Meeso, I do make my own, when I dont have some from my MIL. I have two recipes for that. I will try to post those as well.

  6. Ah, asafotaeda — I know it well and have a container in the pantry. It scares me a little, though, because everyone says to be so careful with it.

    Many thanks for the pressure cooker tips. I’ll let you know if/when I put them to the test.

  7. Sweet Artichoke said:

    Yum! That looks like a delicious sambar! I love sambar, and masoor dal is my favourite dal… will try your recipe soon!

  8. Heidi, hing isnt too scary. You will not notice it, it just gives that je ne sais quoi. Well… unless you use too much, lol. Just a sprinkle is good.

    Thank you Sweet Artichoke. I hope you like it!

  9. luckyfatima said:

    I love daal-veg stews. Sambhar is a fave. I don’t care for toor daal, though. I can’t eat it all the time. It has this undertaste. I use it for sambhar when I make it. But I also make a Gujarati style daal veg stew and I picked up the idea from Julie Sahni’s Classical Indian cookbook to use a daal medley, including toor, like channa, moong, and toor even though the original method is pure toor. I like masoor but also prefer it mixed, like a moong-masoor combo. So, what brand of sambhar powder do you recommend? Also, do you have a recipe for a particularly regional Bengaluru type sambhar?

    • I, too, like the dal medleys, but for some reason I haven’t been doing it that way lately. Is the Gujarati one on your blog yet, or do I put in a special request? 🙂
      Yes, I want to post my mil’s style too… soon. In full disclosure, we just moved and I don’t have access to my mixie right now, and some of my recipes are stashed away “somewhere”. So more ‘authentic’ posts in the (near?) future, hehe.

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