Sundakkai Sambar | Fresh Turkey Berry Sambar

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.

Are you after other Sundakkai dishes? We are planning others, so check back here when you get a chance.

Would you like other Sambar dishes? Try Seasoned Sambar, another version of Seasoned Sambar, and Moru Sambar.

Browse all of our Sundakkai dishes, all of our Sambar recipes and all of our Indian recipes. Or take some relaxing time to explore all of our Late Autumn dishes.

Continue reading “Sundakkai Sambar | Fresh Turkey Berry Sambar”

Should Sambar be Sour, Salty or Hot? And Other Sambar Hints.

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.

Continue reading “Should Sambar be Sour, Salty or Hot? And Other Sambar Hints.”

How to Cook Vegetables for Sambar

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.

Browse all of our sambar recipes here. and Meenakshi Ammal’s recipes here.

Continue reading “How to Cook Vegetables for Sambar”

Moru Sambar | Buttermilk Sambar | Two Recipes

Delicious and easy to make

This wonderful, refreshing, soothing sambar is made with buttermilk. It is utterly delicious and very easy to make. Called Moru Sambar, Moar Sambar or More Sambar, it can be made with either buttermilk or yoghurt.

Are you wondering what defines a sambar? You might like to read this post that answers that question. If you like to explore sambars, you could browse all sambar recipes, kuzhambu recipes. This sambar is different to the classical, seasoned sambars, being made of yoghurt or buttermilk.

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:)

Continue reading “Moru Sambar | Buttermilk Sambar | Two Recipes”

Classic Seasoned Sambar, Method Four

This is the fourth of four methods that Ms Ammal presents for her basic sambars.

Meenakshi Ammal’s Cook and See Part 1 has four methods for cooking basic, classic seasoned sambar. This is the fourth method that she describes for that dish.

There are other types of sambar – Yoghurt and Buttermilk sambars, kuzhambu and others that stray from the classic approach. This recipe sticks to that classic, seasoned approach.

Are you wondering what defines a sambar? You might like to read this post that answers that question. If you like to explore sambars, you could browse all sambar recipes, kuzhambu recipes, and these helpful posts – Sambar, Method One, Method Three, and Method Four.

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:)

You can see the other methods here – Method 1, Method 2, Method 3. Continue reading “Classic Seasoned Sambar, Method Four”

Classic Seasoned Sambar, Method Three

This is the third of four main ways of cooking sambar.

We have four main methods of cooking Sambar, and this one is the third. The difference in this method  from previous ones is that a delicious paste of chillies, coriander and channa dal is made, instead of using dry spices.

Are you wondering what defines a sambar? You might like to read this post that answers that question. If you like to explore sambars, you can browse these helpful posts – Sambar Method One, Method Two, and Method Four, and then all sambar recipes and kuzhambu recipes.

A lot of info for a simple dish:)

This recipe is different to Methods One and Two in that it introduces a lovely paste as a part substitute for individual spices.

Are you looking for other Sambar recipes? Try Sundakkai Sambar, and Moru Sambar.

Browse all of our Sambar and Kuzhambu dishes, and all of our Indian recipes. Or eat seasonally and explore our collection of Early Spring dishes.

Onion Sambar II

Seasoned Sambar Method THREE a la S. Meenakshi Ammal

Source : adapted from Method Three, Seasoned Sambar in Cook and See Part 1, by S. Meenakshi Ammal
Cuisine: South Indian
Prep time: 15 mins or so
Cooking time: 30 mins + time of cooking the toor dal (about 1.5 hrs)
Serves: 4 people

ingredients
0.5 cup Red Gram Dal = Toor Dal
1 large Tblspn Tamarind
1 tspn salt or to taste
0.5 tspn rice flour or chickpea flour
6 dried red chillies, depending on heat and your preference. I use 3 or 4.
0.5 tspn fenugreek seeds
0.5 tspn black mustard seeds
3 tspn Gingelly Oil = Indian Sesame Oil (a very light sesame oil without a sesame taste. Use ghee or vegetable oil if you can’t get Indian Sesame Oil)
2 Green chillies
1 pinch asafoetida
6 or so curry leaves
coriander leaves
0.33 tspn Turmeric powder
1 cup chopped vegetable (see below)

for chilli paste
6 dried red chillies
1.5 tspns coriander seeds
1 tspn bengal gram (channa dal)

for vegetables
Vegetables like carrot, pumpkin, french beans, runner beans, cluster beans, eggplant, okra, chow chow and drumstick can be used.  It is best to use only one vegetable. Prepare the vegetable by washing and cutting into chunks or lengths. ADD THESE VEGETABLES WHEN THE TAMARIND IS ADDED.

If you prefer, you can briefly par-boil any harder vegetables, like eggplant, okra, pumpkin or any of the beans before using in the recipe. ADD THESE VEGETABLES BEFORE ADDING THE TAMARIND.

You can also use Amaranth stems, radish, white radish or onions, which can be par-boiled in a little water along with the tamarind water before adding to the recipe AT THE POINT THE TAMARIND IS USUALLY ADDED. (Add the cooking water as well). Don’t add extra tamarind to the recipe.

Or Amaranth stems, radish, runner beans, cluster beans or pumpkin can be cooked separately with a little salt, drained an ADDED AFTER ADDING THE TAMARIND.

 

method
Wash the dal. Boil about 4 cups water, add the dal and 1 tspn gingelly oil or ghee. Cover with a lid and cook until a soft mass. Add more water as it cooks if needed. It will take at least 30 mins and up to 90 mins to cook until very soft, depending on the age of the dal.

Towards the end of cooking, add the turmeric powder.

Make the paste. Shallow fry 6 dried red chillies or to taste, coriander seeds and bengal gram in a little ghee. Grind to a paste in a spice grinder or small processor.

Get ready the remaining 6 dried red chillies. Take a small pan and heat with the remainder of the gingelly oil or ghee. Break the dried chillies in half and add to the oil with the mustard seeds first, then the fenugreek seeds and asafoetida. Allow the mustard seeds to pop and fry the seeds till they are a dark brown but not burnt.

Slit the green chillies into 2 and add to the spices with the curry leaves. The curry leaves will splatter so stand back!

Check when your vegetables should be added to the sambar – either now, with the next step or after the next step.

Strain the tamarind water, removing the seeds and strings and keeping the pulp, and add to the spices with the salt.

By now the vegetables are added, so add enough cooking water to make a soupy consistency. Stir, cover and cook on medium-low heat until the vegetables are cooked.

Now add the spices, the chilli paste and vegetables to the dal and mix very well. Allow the sambar to boil well for 3 or 4 minutes.

Mix the rice flour or chickpea flour in some water, mixing well to remove lumps. Stir into the dal, mixing it well. Boil again for a few minutes. Remove from the stove.

Once off the heat, garnish with coriander leaves and curry leaves.

Sambar

 

recipe notes
Grated coconut can be roasted to a golden brown and added to the spice paste, but the keeping properties of the Sambar might be reduced.

Always consider the heat and size of your chillies (dried for red and fresh for green) when selecting how many you will use in the recipe. If the chillies are large, reduce to 4 for the spice paste and 4 for the sambar.

I like to add 2 tomatoes, chopped well, with the vegetables.

Green chillies are optional and may be replaced by red chillies.

If you use more toor dal than specified, the sambar will be thick enough without the need for rice flour or chickpea flour.

If masalas are liked, saute in ghee or gingelly oil: 1 tspn poppy seeds, 0.5 tspn anise, 2 cm cinnamon stick, 4 cloves and 4 cardamon pods, and add for extra flavour to the sambar.

A Classic Seasoned Sambar, Method Two

I adore sambar. There are no two ways around it. It is a dish of choice, and when I visit my most favourite Indian restaurants, I will always order a dish of sambar and idli. As homely as it is, it is comforting, flavoursome, awesome.

This is a second method of cooking Sambar as described by Meenakshi Ammal, that classical Indian author of cookbooks. It introduces the use of Sambar Powder as a replacement for some of the individual spices.

Are you wondering what defines a sambar? You might like to read this post that answers that question. If you like to explore sambars, you could browse these helpful posts – Sambar, Method One, Method Three, and Method Four, and then all sambar recipes and kuzhambu recipes.

A lot of info for a simple dish 🙂

Continue reading “A Classic Seasoned Sambar, Method Two”

Seasoned Sambar, Method One

A classic, traditional Sambar, from Meenakshi Ammal.

A treat that you can give yourself is a wonderful South Indian Sambar, a South Indian soupy spicy dish, generally served over rice or with dosa.

This recipe is interpreted from the doyenne of South Indian cooking, S. Meenakshi Ammal. Her books, Cook and See (in four parts) are a goldmine of traditional South Indian cooking. Sometimes hard to interpret for the novice non-Indian cook, her recipes take a bit of detective work, planning, thinking, rewriting, and discussing. But if you are serious about real and traditional Indian food, these books are a treasure.

You can read more about Sambars and their characteristics here.

Are you looking for other Sambar recipes? Try Sundakkai Sambar, and Moru Sambar.

For Meenakshi Ammal’s other Sambars, try her different ways of making this dish – Method Two, Method Three and Method Four. Each is delicious!

Browse all of our Sambar and Kuzhambu dishes, and all of our Indian recipes. Or eat seasonally and explore our collection of Early Spring dishes.

Continue reading “Seasoned Sambar, Method One”

How to Make Sambar Powder and Paste

Making spice powders at home is simple

Sambars are those beautiful unctuous creamy soupy dishes quintessentially South Indian. A sambar consists of pureed toor dal lentils cooked with fresh vegetables, tamarind and spices. Eaten daily, the spice mixes used vary in content and flavour from house to house. Everyone claims to have the best recipe, and of course they are right. It is a very important dish to all South Indians, and vada sambar and idli sambar are popular breakfast foods.

Sambar Powder is usually, but not always, a fairly warming masala or mix of spices blended to particularly suit sambar.

You can find all of our Sambar Recipes here and Sambar information here.

Continue reading “How to Make Sambar Powder and Paste”