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.
Okra is so very healthy for us, unbelievably so, so it is said that Okra Sambar is an instant pick-me-up. This sambar recipe is easily and quickly made – even more so if you have some cooked toor dal in the freezer (HINT). It will be all made in 12 – 15 minutes. Surely that is enough to pick you up!
I love this simple Drumstick Sambar recipe. We have friends who grow drumsticks, so there are always some in the freezer. We also grow our own limes now, so this dish is quite precious – using fresh and home grown produce.
This recipe is so very simple, using a minimum of spices. I hope you enjoy.
We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.
It has been a great year for green tomatoes – both our Asian grocery and our local Middle Eastern green grocer have stocked them at various times. So we have indulged our love of them with a range of recipes.
Some of our most loved green tomato recipes are from India, and today’s dish is a gorgeous sambar from Tamil Nadu. As green tomatoes have a sourness to them, the amount of tamarind is reduced for this sambar.
Occasionally the local Asian shop has Drumstick Leaves (also known as Moringa, Mungarai Keerai and Murungai Keerai) and we are always excited to bring a bunch home. One of our favourite ways to use them is to make a Drumstick Leaf Sambar. It is a standard sambar with an onion tadka, into which the cooked leaves are stirred. The flavours are allowed to develop and the sambar is served with rice.
The leaves, unless very tender, are quite tough to digest, so make sure you cook them well.
This recipe can also be made with the various types of Amaranth leaves.
Browse our Sambar recipes, and Drumstick Leaves dishes. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.
Continue reading “Mungarai Keerai Sambar | Drumstick Leaves Sambar”
Onion Sambar is a very popular South Indian and Sri Lankan sambar. It goes well with rice, idli, dosa, vada, pongal, upma and most other South Indian breakfast dishes.
This dish can be made with small onions (pearl onions or pickling onions) or with chopped, big onions. It will taste wonderful whatever onion you use. I like to use golden shallots as well – they add a slight sweetness to the dish.
You can see all of our Sambar recipes here, and our collection of Indian recipes here. Specifically, out South Indian dishes are here and Sri Lankan are here. Perhaps you want Onion Recipes. Or try our collection of easy Mid Summer recipes.
Drumsticks, such a funny name, are stick shaped vegetables that grow on a tree. They are funny, skinny, long vegetables with a hard outer covering that gives them the name drumsticks. You have to be in the know to eat this vegetable, as you would never guess it. There is a soft interior that is delicious. The pieces of drumsticks have to be picked up with the fingers, the exterior is squashed in the mouth and the tender interior can be scraped out with the teeth. You come to love this little procedure. The harder skin, once all flavour is extracted from it, is discarded on the side of the plate.
Drumsticks are particularly delicious in Sambar and Rasam. They are best bought fresh, but frozen drumsticks are readily available in Indian groceries if you can’t find them locally. This recipe is from the classic book Classic Tamil Brahmin Cuisine, such a great book of classic South Indian / Tamil traditional recipes. The method is somewhat different to Meenakshi Ammal’s seminal recipes from Cook and See, in that the tadka is added to the base gravy before the cooked dal is added. Ammal usually also includes tomatoes in her sambar as well, and thickens the dish with a little rice flour or besan at the end. I have added the thickening trick to the recipe as it really does add to the texture of the dish.
Who isn’t a fan of Sundakkai, those little bursts of crunch and flavour, also known as the Pea Eggplant. Pea-sized they are, but pack a punch in the flavour department. They are also called Turkey Berry, Devil’s Fig, Prickly Nightshade, Shoo-shoo Bush, and Wild Eggplant.
Fresh Sundakkai are used in dishes such as Sambar, Kuzhambu, Poritha Kuzhambu and Kootu. They are also sun-dried, a salty, slightly bitter vathal that can be used in Rasam, Sambar and Kuzhambu. I also like to powder the dried ones, after sauteing, and use quite untraditionally as a sprinkle over non-Indian salads and other dishes.
This dish is a Sambar made with the sundakkai. You will find it delicious with wonderful flavours. The Turkey Berries first need to be picked from their stems. This is the sort of job that is similar to shelling peas or peeling broad beans – best done while watching your favourite show on TV or sitting outside in the sunshine. Then rinse them well in cold water.
Some reading for you first.
- What is Sambar?
- What is the difference between Rasam and Sambar?
- What is the difference between Kuzhambu and Sambar?
For how to cook vegetables for sambar, read On cooking Vegetables for Sambar. For making sambar powders, go to Sambar Powders and a Simple Sambar. Finally this one will also help – Sambar – hot, sour or salty?. A lot of info for a simple dish
Advice for perfecting sambar
Meenakshi Ammal in her books Cook and See, talks about Sambar tastes, which she says are personal preference.
Sour, Salty, Hot?
Some prefer their sambar a little sour, some a little hot and some more salty. Sometimes, some varieties of tamarind are more sour than others, some chillies are hotter than other chillies. Experience, personal taste and discretion should determine the amount, the number and the quality.
Green chillies are not compulsory and may be substituted by red ones.
Removing the confusion around cooking vegetables for Sambar
Once you are experienced at cooking sambar, it is quite easy. However, while mastering the skill it can be confusing. Here is some advice on making sambar, and particularly on cooking the vegetables for sambar.
The advice is based on my experience and the writings of S. Meenakshi Ammal who wrote the Cook and See series of books on traditional South Indian cooking.