Sambar

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Sambar is one of my all time favorites. So is it for DD 🙂 From my childhood, this is one thing that I have consistently liked. Usually in my home, mom mostly prepares Palakkadan Sambar. Taste-wise, no doubt I like that better, but when it comes to ease of making it, the regular sambar is the best. Especially because I just make it all in one shot, in pressure cooker. There would be rarely any South Indian family that doesn’t have sambar atleast once a week 🙂 These days, things are a little different though, specially when you are in other countries 😛

Though there are various curries that could be used with rice like rasam, moru, dal etc. etc., according to me, there is no replacement for sambar. Till I met people from other states, I was thinking that Sambar is made of assorted vegetables and thats the only way it could be made. But from friends and colleagues, I came to know that they make Drumstick sambar, Raddish sambar, Okra sambar etc. Its individual preference, but atleast the place I come from, Sambar is a lovely combination of lentils and all kinds of assorted vegetables. The aroma of sambar can awaken your pallets. The best part is that it is such a healthy dish to have. I don’t know why I didn’t post this recipe earlier 😮

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INGREDIENTS:
Note: Cup used for measurement is US measurement cup, 1 cup = 237 ml

Toor dal(yellow dal) – 1 cup
Shallots – 4-5 nos
Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
Tamarind – 1 inch sized ball
(If you are using tamarind extract – 1 tsp)
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 3/4 tsp
Sambar powder – 1 heaped tsp
Tomato – 1 no, cubed
Assorted vegetables cut lengthwise:
Carrot – 1/2 no
Drumsticks – 1 no
Green Beans – 9-10
Raw banana – 1 no, small sized
Baby brinjal – 2 nos
Salt – to taste (apprx. 1 tsp)
Coconut Oil – 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilli – 2 nos
Curry leaves – 2 strands
Coriander leaves – 3 strands

METHOD:

1. Soak toor dal in water for sometime, say 30 mins. Boil it in cooker and give 3 whistles. Mash the cooked dal to form a thick smooth paste.
(For those who do not know how much quantity of water to use to boil the dal, use 1:1.5 ratio of dal vs water)
2. Soak the tamarind in warm water for few mins and extract the tamarind juice.
3. In the same cooker, to the dal, add shallots, asafoetida, tamarind, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, sambar powder, tomato, all the cut vegetables, 1 spring curry leaves and salt. Add 3-4 cups of water also.
4. Close the pressure cooker and cook sambar in high flame. After 2 whistles, keep in simmer/low flame for 5 mins.
5. Once all the steam escapes, open the cooker and mix the sambar well. At this time, you can adjust the consistency of the sambar by either adding more water or boiling it for some more time to make it thicker.
6. In a pan, heat coconut oil. Add mustard seeds, let it splutter. Then add broken red chillies and curry leaves to it. Switch off the stove and add this tempering to the sambar.
7. Garnish with some chopped coriander leaves and sambar is ready in no time.

Serve with Idli / Mini Idli / Dosa or rice!

ONAM SPECIAL !!! Sadya Vibhavangal…

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Onashamsagal…Happy Onam 🙂

Onam is a festival celebrated in Kerala during harvest season. It has a story behind it too. Since this is probably the only festival that most Keralites celebrate, I will briefly explain the story behind it and the celebrations and activities done during this season 🙂

Story telling time 😛 Long ago, there was a mythical King called Mahabali who ruled Kerala. This is considered the golden era of Kerala because during his rule, the subjects were very happy and joyful. The people felt very secure and there was not a lot of crime, supposedly! It is believed that King Mahabali visits his people every year to see how they are doing. So during the harvest period, post the autumn season, people celebrate the homecoming of King Mahabali and commemorate the Vamana avatar of Vishnu.

The festive time falls during Aug-Sep. During this time, children and ladies put Pookalam, a floral arrangement on the floor with various designs. When we were in school and colleges, we used to have Pookalam competitions. The team that puts the best design wins the title. It used to be so much fun during those times. We would go 5-6 hours before the competition. While some of us take out the petals of the flowers, getting the flowers ready for the pookalam, others draw the design on the floor and few others contribute by just cheering us up to bring out the spirit of Onam 😀 We have other activities very unique to Kerala that are held during this festive time. Vallamkali (Boat race), Pulikkali etc. are just couple of them.

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However, of all these things, the highlight of Onam for most of us is the Onasadya or the Onam Feast. Since this is the harvest season, there is an extravaganza of food during this time. Onam is celebrated for 10 days. It starts on Atham-First day and ends with a bang on Thiruvonam-Tenth day. On Thiruvonam, during lunch time, the onasadya is served on a banana leaf and there are about 15 items served for that meal. From region to region the dishes could vary and the numbers could differ too. There is a way that the banana leaf is placed and the way each dish holds a specific place on the leaf.

I have been wanting to put together a page which would give a good repository of all the items/dishes made during Onam. Enjoy this great season with great food, be cheerful and bond with your family, for that’s the spirit of Onam 🙂 Once again, Happy Onam to all !!!