Sambar! That one word is enough to have us running to the table. Today’s sambar is made with Snake Beans, also called Long Beans. It has a base of onion, carrot and potato. I have broken one of Meenakshi Ammal’s cardinal rules – only one vegetable per sambar – but I’ve kept the onion, carrot and potato to small amounts. I don’t think she will mind.
Snake Bean Sambar
0.75 cups toor dal, soaked for at least 1 hour or overnight
0.33 tspn Turmeric powder
tamarind pulp extracted from a lump of lime-sized lump of dried tamarind (or about 0.25 – 0.33 tspn tamarind concentrate)
0.5 tspn black mustard seeds
2 medium sized dried red chillies, depending on heat and your preference.
2 green chillies, split into two from the base to near the head, and leave intact
6 curry leaves
3 tspn ghee or Indian light sesame oil
0.5 small potato, peeled and cut into small dice
0.5 small carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
0.25 onion, peeled and chopped finely
6 – 8 snake beans, top and tailed and cut into 4cm lengths (approx)
0.75 – 1 Tblspn sambar powder
1 Tblspn coconut (use fresh, frozen or dried), ground to a fine powder
0.5 tspn mustard seeds
6 curry leaves
sea salt, to taste
0.5 tspn rice flour or chickpea flour
Soak the dried tamarind in enough boiling water to cover it well and let it soak. Extract the tamarind by straining through a sieve and pushing the soft pulp through the strainer. Discard the seeds and strings and set aside the liquid and pulp.
Cook the dal
Drain and rinse the dal, place in a saucepan with the turmeric, 1 tspn ghee and 6 cups water, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 45 – 60 mins or so until the dal very soft and disintegrating. Add more water as it cooks if needed.
When the dal is cooked and disintegrating, mash it a little with the back of a spoon, a potato masher or with a quick pulse with a stick blender. Put the dal aside.
cook the vegetables
Heat with the remainder of the ghee in a kadhai or saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and allow to pop. Break the dried chillies in half and add to the pan. Allow to darken.
Add the green chillies with the curry leaves to the spices. The curry leaves will splatter so stand back!
Add your vegetables and saute for 5 mins. Add salt to taste and enough water to just cover the vegetables and cook for 20 – 30 mins until cooked. About the 15 minute mark add the tamarind pulp and water, and the sambar powder. Stir well, and finish cooking.
finish the sambar
Now add the cooked dal and ground coconut, and boil well for 3 or 4 minutes.
If it needs thickening, mix the rice flour or chickpea flour in some water, mixing well to remove lumps. Stir a little into the dal, mixing it well. If not thick enough, add a little more. Simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the stove.
Make a tadka with mustard seeds and curry leaves and pour over the sambar. Garnish with coriander leaves if desired.