Following on from the traditional sambars that I have been posting recently is this wonderful, refreshing, soothing sambar made with buttermilk. It is utterly delicious and very easy to make. Called Moru Sambar or More Sambar, it can be made with either buttermilk or yoghurt. However there are tricks to cooking with yoghurt so if you have not used it before please read the tips in this yoghurt curry, Kadhi and the following:
S. Meenakshi Ammal has two recipes in her book Cook and See Part 1. They are both wonderful but quite different in taste. I adore the second one with its extra spicing.
A note on heat
When I began cooking sambar from Amma’s book I would reduce the amount of chillies, more out of nervousness at the amount that she uses than anything else. However I now use what she recommends. It is spicy but not at all too spicy. Please do experiment with the amounts, especially if you are not used to eating a lot of spicy dishes.
My time is limited, but I like to eat well. I will often pop the dal and vegetables on to cook in the morning and even saute the spices in a kadhai ready to pull it all together in the evening as the rice cooks.
Choosing and Preparing Vegetables for Buttermilk Sambar
The best vegetables to use for this are eggplant, okra or drumstick. Otherwise use potatoes, chow chow or ashgourd. Amma says that any other vegetable is third-rate, but I have used fresh peas in the second recipe and they were delightful.
For eggplant and okra, boil lightly for a few moments with 0.25 tspn salt. Cook the other vegetables until done, also in 0.25 tspn salt. Strain them before adding to the sambar.
Moru (Buttermilk) Sambar Method One a la S. Meenakshi Ammal
Source : interpreted from Method One, Buttermilk Sambar in Cook and See Part 1, by S. Meenakshi Ammal
Cuisine: South Indian, Tamil
Prep time: 15 mins or so
Cooking time: 30 mins + time of cooking the toor dal (about 1.5 hrs)
Serves: 4 people
5/8 cup toor dal (red gram dal)
1.5 cup buttermilk, choose one that is more sour than sweet.
1 heaped tspn salt
0.5 tspn black or brown mustard seeds
0.5 tspn fenugreek seeds
8 red chillies (or to taste) – pinch a tiny bit of the ends off to prevent them from exploding while cooking
6 green chillies (or to taste)
1 tspn rice flour
small piece ginger
coriander leaves and curry leaves for garnish
ghee or Indian (light) sesame oil
Cook the red gram dal (toor dal) into a soft mass. The time taken can vary, depending on the quality and freshness of the dal. Allow 1.5 hours but it can be much shorter.
Heat ghee or oil in a heavy pot. Place the mustard seeds in the oil and allow to begin popping. And the fenugreek seeds and pinched red chillies and fry until a reddish brown colour, but don’t allow to burn. Add the green chillies and saute briefly.
Dissolve the salt in the buttermilk, and mix in the rice flour too by sprinkling half of it over the top, mixing it well to avoid lumps, then repeating with the other half. Pour the buttermilk into the pan with the spices while stirring. Allow it to come to the boil.
Add the vegetables and return to the boil and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes. Add the cooked dal and mix it well. Bring it back to the boil and then turn off the heat.
Grate or chop the ginger finely and add to the sambar. Garnish with curry leaves and coriander leaves.
Masala Moru (Buttermilk) Sambar Method Two a la S. Meenakshi Ammal
In addition to the ingredients in Method One, you will need:
1.5 tspn coriander seeds
1 tspn bengal gram dal (channa dal)
0.5 tspn poppy seeds
In some ghee or oil, fry off the coriander seeds, bengal gram dal, poppy seeds and 4 of the red dried chillies. Grind them to a smooth paste, adding a little water or oil if necessary to assist the blending.
Make the sambar as per Method One above, using only 4 dried red chillies. Add the spice paste to the buttermilk after it boils, just before adding the cooked dal.
Garnish as for Method One.
The Sambar Series
- Seasoned Sambar, Method One
- Seasoned Sambar, Method Two
- Seasoned Sambar, Method Three
- Seasoned Sambar, Method Four
- Buttermilk Sambar, Methods One and Two
- On cooking Vegetables for Sambar
- More on Cooking Vegetables for Sambar
- On the making of Sambar Powder
- Sambar Powders and a Simple Sambar
- More on Cooking Sambar