After nearly 2 decades of writing this blog, the archives sometimes feel like an archeological site. There are long forgotten gems hidden in here. I remembered one such recipe recently.
The Southern Indian staples of idli and dosa are recipes that I've standardized for myself after years or trial and error. I cautiously feel like I now have them nailed down. However, their standard accompaniment sambar- the spicy lentil and vegetable stew- has not been a recipe I've felt like I've nailed down.
There are so many regional variations of sambar. Growing up in the Western Indian state of Maharashtra, the source of most of our idlis and dosas were local Udipi restaurants where the sambar is laced with coconut and slightly sweet with a tinge of jaggery. The other version I'm familiar with is the Tamil sambar which is decidedly NOT sweet. The latter is what I normally make. Only last month I remembered, wait, I think I've made a very good Udipi sambar at some point and then completely forgotten about it. Sure enough, I found this post from a decade ago.
I made the sambar and ate it blissfully. THIS is now my go-to sambar recipe and I won't forget it in a hurry. Step 2 in the recipe below, when you start frying the ingredients for the masala paste, is when the unmistakable savory aroma will hit you and make you feel like you're sitting in your favorite Udipi restaurant. Grinding a fresh masala is a bit more work than using a sambar powder like I usually do, but it is well worth the trouble.
I buy fresh frozen coconut- it comes as an icy sheet. When I bring it home from the store, I thaw it slightly, enough to break it into chunks and then portion the chunks into smaller containers or bags. That way I can pull out a portion and use it without defrosting and refreezing the entire package. Coconut is an important ingredient in my kitchen but I use it judiciously and in modest quantities.
1. Pressure cook 1/2 cup toor dal. Mash it well and set aside.2. Heat a little oil in small pan. Add the following ingredients in this order and fry them, then cool and grind to a thick paste.
- 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
- 2 tsp. urad dal
- 2 tbsp. coriander seeds
- Few curry leaves
- 1/4 cup fresh/frozen coconut
- 1 tsp. mustard seeds
- 1 tsp. urad dal
- Pinch of asafetida
- Sprig of curry leaves