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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sambar (Sambhar) A South Indian Lentil Delicacy

I have already given the recipe for Sambar Masala Powder in an earlier post. Now it's time to prepare the sambar. South Indian need sambar as an accompaniment with a wide variety of dishes. Most are breakfast dishes like Idli, Dosa, Medu Wadai etc. It is also an important part of a meal. The taste of hot steaming rice with the fragrant sambar poured on top is an experience that cannot be put into words.
For some reason Sambar like Ma Ki Dal tastes better when a day old.

Ingredients :

Red Gram Dal (Tur Dal) : 1 cup

Fresh Green Chillies (slit) : 2 nos.

Tamarind : 1 Tbsp.

Turmeric Powder (Haldi) : 1/2 Tsp.

Red Chilli Powder : 2 Tsp.

Sambar Masala Powder : 2 Tbsp.

Vegetables :

Potatoes : 2 medium sized

Onions : 4 small, peeled and kept whole

Brinjals : 2 medium sized

Drumsticks : 2 nos. cut into 2" pieces

Red or White Pumpkin : 150 gms.

Cauliflower : 100 gms.

Fresh Coriander : 2 Tbsp.

For Tadka :

Oil : As Required

Mustard Seeds : 2 tsp.

Asafoetida (Hing) : a pinch

Curry Leaves : 8 - 10 nos.

Method :

Wash the dal and then add the slit green chillies to it and cook till done. Cut the brinjals, potatoes, cauliflower and pumpkin into 1" pieces. Then parboil the vegetables and drumsticks in salted water. Take care, so the vegetables are not completely cooked as we have to simmer them in the sambar. Soak the tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes and then strain it to remove any fibers and pits.
Now in a pot, take the dal and add the tamarind pulp to it. Make a paste of the turmeric, red chilli and sambar powders and add to the dal. Keep the pot on simmer and add the vegetables. Now simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning.

Tadka : In a tadka pan, add oil and heat it. When the oil is hot, add the asafoetida and mustart seeds and let them crackle. Then add the curry leaves and pour this tadka over the dal. Mix well and remove from heat.

P.S. : Adding a few drops of oil to the dal helps to cook it quickly.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Sambar Masala Powder

No South Indian feast is complete without the Sambar. The Sambar, according to Wikipedia, is a lentil and vegetable stew or a chowder based on a broth made from Tamarind and Toovar Dal.
The Mumbaiites are believed to have been introduced to the Udupi cuisine in the early 1930's with the opening of Cafe Mysore in Matunga, a suburb of Mumbai.The owners are from proper Udupi, as opposed to most other 'Udupi' restaurants, which are run by Shettys from or around Mangalore.
The difference in the Sambar from these Shetty-run restaurants is that the sambar has been modified to suit the taste buds of their local clientele. They have created a sort of sweet vegetable dal that is suitable for their local clientele. As a result, it has lost its authentic flavor. The Sambar that you get in Udupi is a lot more pungent, aromatic and flavorful.
In my house, sambar is made in a large quantity so as to last atleast 2 days. The first day is spent eating it with idli, dosa etc. The next day the taste of the sambar develops (matures) and all the subtle flavours come to the fore and vie for you attention. This makes it the perfect accompaniment to a plate of steaming white rice.
This is going to be a two part series as first I will put up the Sambar masala and then explain how to make the sambar.
So here goes -
Sambar Masala

Ingredients :

Coriander Seeds : 250 Gm.

Dried Red Chillies (Sankeshwari + Bedgi = 50:50) : 250 Gm.

Turmeric Powder : 25 Gm.

Asafoetida (Hing) : 15 Gm.

Cumin Seeds : 75 Gm.

Black Peppercorns : 50 Gm.

Mustard Seeds : 50 Gm.

Split Black Gram / Black Lentil (Urad Dal) : 100 Gm.

Split Bengal Gram (Chana Dal) : 100 Gm.

Raw Rice : 50 Gm.

Fenugreek Seeds (Methi) : 20 Gm.

Curry Leaves : one bunch

Method :

Dry roast the ingredients individually and then powder them. Keep the masala in an airtight jar and use as required.

Jirya Miryachi Kadhi (Coconut sauce flavoured with cumin and black pepper)

One of the first aamchigeli recipes i.e. one from my native place Udupi, that I loved has to be Jirya Miryachi Kadhi. The combination of the cumin and black peppercorns with the added fragrance of garlic was to die for. Especially during the rains, when one wants something really hot, spicy and fragrant, this is the dish in which I find succor. The rain splattering incessantly on the terrace roof, the sudden thunderclap and the cold and muggy weather of Mumbai starts to bring me down. I need comfort, warmth and that’s when I make this dish. The kadhi poured on steaming hot basmati rice is a combination that hits a spot. The ultimate comfort food! So today in my ongoing South Indian recipe series, I present -

Jirya Miryachi Kadhi

Ingredients :

Fresh Grated Coconut : 3/4 th

Dried Red Chillies : 6-8 no.

Cumin Seeds : 1 Tsp.

Black Peppercorns : 8 no.

Skinned Garlic Cloves : From one whole garlic pod + 1 extra garlic pod

Kokum (Dried Mangosteen Peals) : 4 - 6 no.

Coconut oil : As required

Mustard Seeds : 1 Tsp.

Salt : To taste

Method :

Saute the chillies, cumin, peppercorns and skinned garlic cloves in 2 tsp. of coconut oil and then make a paste with the grated coconut.

To this paste, add about 3 1/2 cups of water and salt to taste ( 1 Tsp.) and add the kokum. Bring to a boil and remove.

Tempering (Tadka) : Take 2-3 Tsp. of coconut oil in a tadka pan and to this add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Now add the crushed garlic cloves from the other pod ( no need to skin these cloves). When the garlic cloves are brown, add this tadka to the kadhi. Mix well and serve hot with white rice.

P. S. : Do not boil the kadhi for too long as it tends to change the taste of the kadhi and also thins it.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Mangalore Buns (A sweet puri)

A few days ago, I attended a wedding. I went with my mother and aunt. We were very late and missed the ceremony, but managed to be on time for lunch. :) Both the bride and groom were from the Southern Indian state of Tamilnadu. So the cuisine was a typical TamBram affair. The last time I ate a south Indian wedding feast was at least few years ago. This was my first Tamil wedding, so I was looking forward to the feast.
They put a nice, big banana leaf in front of us. Then started a slew of accompaniments. There was a chutney (gojju), a mixed raita, a raw mango pickle ( my favorite in any feast), spiced banana wafers, a wada and a fried papadum. The papadum was huge compared to the puny ones I usually eat.
There were four vegetable dishes - an avial, a mixed vegetable dish with a coconut gravy, a mildly spiced potato dish and a Foogath. The foogath was nice - shredded cabbage, carrots and beans with slit green chilies and sprinkled liberally with freshly grated coconut. There were also four katories filled with spicy rasam, payasam, buttermilk and curd. The payasam was way too sweet for me.
On the whole, a very satisfying meal indeed with the exception of the wada and avial.
This made me think as to why I haven't put up more south Indian recipes. I am from the southern Indian state of Karnataka ( for the nitpickers, I am from Udupi, Mangalore). So I have decided to start with recipes from my state first. Today I will introduce you to a wonderful breakfast dish, deceptively called Buns. It in no way resembles a bun, but is more like a sweet puri.
it derives its sweetness from the banana and has a nice kick added bu black pepper.

The picture of Mangalore Buns is courtesy Khalnayak. You can check out his pictures on Flickr by clicking on this link here - Khalnayak

Ingredients :

Maida (Refined Flour) : 2 cups or as required

Overripe Banana : 1 no.

Jaggery : 3-4 Tbsp.

Soda Bi Carb : 1/4 Tsp.

Sour Curd : 2 Tsp.

Roasted Cumin (Jeera) : 1 Tsp.

Crushed Black Pepper : 1/4 Tsp.

Salt : to taste

Ghee : for frying

Method :

Mash the banana with salt and jaggery and then add the curd, cumin, black pepper, and soda bi carb. Now add the maida to form a dough. Use maida and water as needed as required to make dough. Apply some oil or ghee to cover it and keep overnight to ferment. In the morning, devide the dough evenly into balls. Then roll the dough a little thicker then for a puri (about 1/8 inch). Then deep fry the puris in hot ghee on both sides. Drain on paper.

The puri needs no accompaniments. You just need a cup of steaming, fragrant, flavorful cup of south Indian filter coffee. Aah Heaven!!!