A Sambhar Recipie

by Ramesh Mahadevan

> Mukund Srinivasan's Sambhar Recipe

M>The following recipe comes from the Vilangaddu area (North Arcot District) M>of Tamilnadu - courtesy of my wife (actually her grandmother). It is M>the "Araicchu Potta" or "Pisa Hua" or "ground" version called Sambhar as M>opposeed to the "take 2 spoons of 777 powder and call me in the morning" M>version known as Kozhambu.

< Recipe deleted>

>Mukund Srinivasan

Mukund, Mukund, Mukund, you have eaten my sambhar and you know in your heart and stomach walls that it is better than anything you have ever tasted. Don't your taste buds gently remind you of the wonderful bouquet it permeated ? And this is all because my IIT Kanpur is better than your IIT Madras. Let me give my recipe and start the true sambhar war right in the earnest.

In Pittsburgh, there exist two schools of sambhar making, M. Rao school and Nattu's (the gentlemen in question are graduate students here) - both recipes produce wonderful end products and their sambhars really ought to be bottled and sold. Over the months, I have evolved my own recipe for onion sambhar, borrowing ideas from these stalwarts. Let me share it with you all. Move over, Mukund.

(1) Take a cup of toor dal, add about two and a half cups of water, half a spoon of turmeric (haldi) and about a tablespoon of oil, mix well and pressure cook for about 4 minutes; if you don't have a pressure cooker, cook covered in low medium heat, till the dal is cooked well. Set aside.

(2) You can use either the usual onions or small ('pearl') onions. Small onions are available frozen in grocery stores. Thaw them well in advance. If you can't find small onions, then slice about six or seven usual onions into long strips. Fry the onions in oil in medium high heat (the idea is to brown them without letting them disintegrate) and when they are fried, add water to cover about a third of the dutch oven. Add about a table spoon of tamarind (imly) concentrate and about 4 Oz of tomato paste. (Tomato paste is available in 6 Oz cans, if you want your sambhar more tangy, you can add the full can. You can experiment with the amount of tamarind also) Let it boil in medium heat.
(3) Grate about 1/3 of a full coconut. If you can't grate, scoop out about 1/3 of a full coconut and cut into tiny pieces. Take another pan, fry about two tablespoons of bengal gram (channa) dal, four tablespoons of black gram (udat) dal, four tablespoons of coriander (dhania) seeds, about half a teaspoon of fenugreek (methi) and slowly fry them in medium low heat. When fried enough to a pleasant smelling brown, add about 6 to 10 dry red chillies, depending on how wimpy you are. Then finally add the coconut pieces and fry for an extra minute or two.

(4) Grind the above ingredients to a fine paste in a blender with water and add to the boiling tamarind water. Let it boil for a few minutes. Mash the dal (using a blender or using brute force) and add to the boiling liquid. Add salt to taste. Let it simmer in slow medium heat for fifteen minutes.

(5) Here comes the fun part. Crackle mustard (rye) seeds in butter. When the seeds crackle, throw in some curry leaves (well washed and dried) and fry for a few seconds and add to sambhar. You can even add some coriander leaves to the sambhar.

(6) Let your roommate wash all the dishes, especially the blender and the cooker.
If it doesn't get consumed all in one session, this sambhar tastes even better the next day. To realize the full potential of this sambhar, you must force someone to make stuff like idlis and dosas to go along. Bon appetite !

Copyright(R) Mahadevan Ramesh