Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sambhar/Tangy Lentil Soup

I used to prepare sambhar with the ready/instant sambhar masalas by MDH and some other brands,until one day,when ,"liverina" the ladies club in Haldia hosted a fair to raise money for a cause. I was in Sarsa di's group. Sarsa di hailed from Chennai which is south of India and the abode for- Dosas/rice & lentil pancakes,idlis and sambhar. I was in the right place. Sarsa Di along with 8 ladies had volunteered to make sambhar. It was then that I realized I was not making sambhar the authentic way . I  learnt that for any dish to taste the way it is supposed to, it is necessary to roast & grind the masalas/ spices,when you are ready to use them . The packets we get in the market have a shelf life of 1-2 years.They are mostly not vacuum sealed  and we don't know how long they have been sitting on the shelves. Therefore they are probably 20% less potent  already .When we open these to use some,and save the rest   for later use ,they loose almost 50% of their flavors and aroma. So now as a rule of thumb- I roast and grind masala's fresh and I try and make only the required amount but sometimes I am left with some extra,which I seal in a ziplock and stick it in the freezer. This way they stay fresh. Currys with home made masalas taste like no other:)
Sarsa di  I owe this to you *bows before her*

arhar daal/ split red gram : 1 cup
Turmric: 1/2 tsp
salt: 1 tsp
corriander seeds: 1tbsp
Red chillis: 3-4 (depending on how spicy you like your sambhar to be)
bengal Gram: 1 tbsp
coconut ; 4-5 tbsp ( fresh or unsweetened flakes)
Fenugreek seeds/methi dana: 1 tsp
Asfoetida: a pinch
Mustard seeds: 1tsp
Curry leaves: 15-20
Onion: 1 medium sized
Vegetables: carrots,peas,drumstick, together they should not exceed 200gms( You can add or remove vegetable you like or don't like)
Tamarind pulp: 1/2 cup
Tomato: 1 medium sized
Oil: 2 tbsp

Soak the daal for 30 minutes. Wash it and pressure cook it with 3/4th glass of water, for 5-8 minutes with salt & turmeric. take the back of the ladle and mash the daal well. Take the corriander,chillis,bengla gram and roast it on a griddle for 5-7 minutes moving it constantly. Now add the coconut flakes and roast these for a minute or two,you do not want the coconut to burn, you want this to turn golden brown. Now let this cool and then grind it to a fine powder in a coffee grinder. Add this to the daal and mix well. Now add water about 3/4 th glass,don't make it very thin,you will also add tamarind pulp to it. So keep that in mind . Now let this boil.Meanwhile take a frying pan and add oil,when the oil is hot add mustard seeds,fenugreek,curry leaves,asfoetida and slice the onion thin and add to this.Fry till the onion turns translucent .Now add the chopped pieces of vegetable that you like in your sambhar and fry for 2 -3 minutes. Add chopped tomato( if you like) Now add this to the sambhar,let it boil for 3-4 minutes and lastly add tamarind pulp. garnish it with chopped corriander and serve with idlis,dosas or rice :)

Note: This quantity serves 4
Tamarind and vegetable can be adjusted according to your taste. This does not alter the taste of the sambhar.
 I do not use too many vegetables-Yes,you guessed it right-I have a picky eater at home:)

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