There are 100’s and thousands of recipes for sambar on the internet.
According to me – the best sambar is one which has the taste of the vegetables predominantly. The masala and the dhal flavour is at the back.
Toor dhal (Arhar dhal) – 100 gams ( 1/2 cup)
Tamarind – one small lemon size.
Sambar powder – 4 tsp.
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp.
Salt – 2 tsp.
Vegetables can be beans, carrot, pumpkin, ladies finger, brinjal, radish, drumstick, capsicum etc. Take 1 cup of chopped vegetables of your choice.
Oil – 1 tbsp
Methi seeds – 6 nos
Mustard – 1 tsp.
Red chilly whole – 2 nos (must – please don’t omit)
Hing – 5 pinches.
Tomato – 1 large.
Few curry leaves
- Add oil.
- Add methi seeds – allow it to brown.
- Add mustard seeds and whole red chilly.
- Allow the mustard seed to splutter.
- Add curry leaves.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and fry it in oil. (if you are making for a big party – make the tomato puree and roast it in oil. Make this masala well in advance and add it now. This gives a very rich red colour and nice flavour to the sambar. It also thickens the sambar. Normally we want to make a thin (liquidy) sambar for idlies. if we pour more water -it will be watery and the dhal will be separate or the sambar is thick. This tomato puree helps us to add more water – still not separate the dhal).
- Add the vegetables. Fry for 2 minutes.
- Add the tamarind juice.
- Add turmeric, sambar powder, Hing (add now and not with the seasoning), salt and enough water for the vegetables to cook.
- At the same time, pressure cook the dhal.
- When the vegetables are half cooked add the cooked dhal (this is the most important point to get the flavour of the vegetables in the sambar).
- The rest half of the vegetables will get cooked with the dhal. This will take atleast 20 minutes. Allow the sambar to boil with lots of bubbles. Keep it in medium flame and not in low flame.
- No need to add coriander leaves as we have added curry leaves.
There is no other trick. Enjoy the sambar with rice or idli or dosa.
- First, master the sambar without onions. Then you will be clearly able to find out where you are going wrong ( in tamarind or dhal or masala etc).
- Normally, people add onions and make the sambar flavourful.
- Believe my words – sambar without onions is more flavourful. Try this method.
- Once, you have mastered this – then try onion sambar.
- Also try making sambar with keerai ( palak or methi leaves or any spinach varieties).
- Sometimes, the sambar masala is roasted and made fresh and added to the sambar – this is called arachu vitta sambar. Rest of the method is the same.
- The people in Tamilnadu add 2 tsp of rice flour to nullify the flavours. In case the tamarind or masala is more then add 2tsp of rice flour mixed with water. This will balance the flavours.
- People in kerala add coconuts to balance the flavours.
- These are required only if anything is excess. Try this measurement of simple sambar- you will not go wrong.