Friday, February 09, 2018

Sambar - Tangy Yellow Split Peas Cooked with Vegetables

Sambar is a South-Indian dish of lentils & vegetables that is usually fiery & spicy and I love it. Hubby, however, can't tolerate spicy food so when I cook this at home it is much milder with the spices toned down several notches, which is why I refer to it as Bengali or simple sambar. This dish is generally made with toor dal or yellow split pigeon peas, and any vegetables you have on hand.


1/2 cup toor + 1/2 cup masoor dal, rinsed in several changes of water & drained
4 cups water
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
salt to taste
3 large carrots, peeled & chopped

2 Japanese eggplant, chopped
2 chayote squash, peeled & chopped
1 large onion, peeled & chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced
2 green chilies, diced
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. fenugreek/methi seeds
2 Tbsp. Gits sambar masala 
2 Tbsp. tamarind pulp/paste
1 cup simmering water
1 sprig curry leaves, shredded
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

  1. Pressure-cook lentils for 10 minutes with 4 cups of water, salt to taste and turmeric powder.
  2. Wash and chop vegetables into bite-size pieces and set aside.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat and sputter mustard seeds.
  4. Add onions, garlic, curry leaves & green chilies and stir-fry until fragrant.
  5. Add sambar powder & tomatoes and stir well.
  6. Add vegetables, stir again and simmer over low heat until oil resurfaces.
  7. Add pressure-cooked lentils & simmering water (if necessary), cover and simmer until vegetables are cooked.
  8. Add tamarind pulp, stir well and bring to a boil.
  9. Adjust salt to taste, garnish with cilantro and remove from heat.
Transfer to serving dish and serve with hot Basmati rice, chapatis, dosas or idlis.

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