How to make amazing Sambar in less than 30 minutes?

The Ingredients

Toor Dal — 1/2 cup [I know I take more dal than most people. I like my sambar thick]

Tamarind — 1 lemon size

Tomato — 3 full plumpy ones. [Don’t even try cherry tomatoes here! They don't work, even when you try to approximately match numbers]

Salt — to taste. [Sometimes the more you add, the more tasty it is :D]

Onions — 1 [You should get shallots, not the white soup onions. The onions can really change the taste]

Drumstick — 2 (or) Sambar onions — 10 no.s (or) Radish — 1/2
(or) mixed vegetables ( carrot — 1/4, potatoes — 1/2)

Asafoetida — a pinch [The secret taste enhancer]

Ghee — 2 tablespoons [This does wonders to your sambar]

Turmeric - 1/4 teaspoon

Red chillies — 4

Curry Leaves — 1 / 2 strands

Coriander Leaves — 1 strand chopped finely

Mustard Seeds — 1 teaspoon

Jeera — 1/2 teaspoon

Sambar powder — 3 teaspoons (3 big heaps of them actually! :D)

The Recipe

I start off by first rinsing the dal twice with water.

Then, I take a 3L pressure cooker, and cook the dal with the turmeric and water in a low-medium flame. The level of water should be around an inch above the level of dal in the cooker. I usually wait for around 6–8 whistles before I turn off my stove.

While the dal cooks, we have plenty of time. Yes! This is the time when I take the tamarind and soak it in boiling water. The boiling water hastens the process to soften the tamarind.

An extra tip here: I have noticed that electric kettles boil water much faster than a stove. It takes less than a minute to do this!

While the tamarind soaks and becomes soft, I am off chopping all the vegetables. There is absolutely no need to cut the vegetables into small pieces. I usually cut my veggies as big chunks when I make my sambar. Tiny pieces taste amazingly well in fries. But in sambar, go big! This also saves us a lot of chopping time.

Around the time, I am done chopping, my pressure cooker starts yelling! Six whistles are up, and it’s time to turn off the stove, and let my dal chill for a while. Usually, I use this extra time to finish chopping the remaining vegetables.

Once I am done with the veggies, I transfer the dal to a bowl, clean the cooker, and reheat it to a medium flame.

I also start adding the mustard seeds, the red chillies (I usually break the chilly into 3 pieces), the curry leaves and fry them together for a few minutes in gingelly oil.

The next step is to fry our onions till they become golden white.

I usually add my tomatoes now itself, though some people prefer not to. I have noticed the flavour from the tomato mixes well with the oil and gives a better taste, if we do it then.

If there are any other vegetables, I add them after this, and fry for few more minutes.

Once I am satisfied, I add the puree from the soaked tamarind, and around half a glass of water.

I also add my sambar powder, salt, asafoetida and ghee now, and let the mixture boil for a few seconds.

Once this is done, comes the best part of making sambar. It’s tasting time! The amazing South Indian Sambar smell comes from the pressure cooker, and my stomach starts making noises as I am hungry already.

We can adjust the salt, water or the amount of sambar powder at this time according to our taste. (to make it tastier or thinner or spicier!)

Once I am satisfied, I garnish with coriander leaves.

Finally, I close the pressure cooker lid, and wait for 1 whistle, in medium flame.

That’s it! Arumaiyaana sambar is ready!

What do you guys think of this recipe? Let me know in the comments if there is anything extra that I can do to improve this recipe. I would love to know any tips.

Until the next recipe is out, see you, tat’ta! :)`

Senior Software Engineer & Scrum Master @ Agoda (Booking Holdings Inc.)

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