Sambar, an amazing lentil-based vegetable stew, cooked with dal and tamarind broth is considered a staple of South Indian cuisine and a great soup for this time of year. The key to a good aromatic sambar is the “sambar powder” and the vegetables that go into its making. The below is a great spring recipe because of its hot, light, sour and pungent qualities.
Rich in fiber and protein, sambar also aids in digestion, immunity and weight loss with the tamarind, turmeric powder, curry leaves, red pepper and mustard seeds. It is also low in glycemic index, so if you are a diabetic, then including sambar in your diet will be a good idea.
4 cups water
½ cup toor dal (yellow split pea) – soaked overnight
1 tsp turmeric
2 small tomatoes
3 drumsticks, (moringa vegetable) chopped into finger-sized pieces
2 cups cubed bitter gourd
1 small onion, diced
½ cup coarsely chopped carrots
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
2 pinches hing (asafetida)
1–2 tsp sambar powder
1 ½ tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp jaggery
Coriander leaves for garnish
1 red chili (if you like it a little spicy)
Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the dal and the turmeric powder and bring to a boil again. Clean the drumsticks, peel the outer layer of the drumsticks to remove the fibrous outer skin. Chop them into 3 inch pieces. Add all of the chopped vegetables to the pot, except the onion. Turn the heat down to low, cook partially covered for 30 minutes.
While the dal is cooking, heat the ghee in a frying pan and add the diced onion, stirring on medium heat until translucent, (3 to 5 minutes). Stir in the mustard seeds; cover for 1 minute. Add curry leaves and stir, then add hing and stir until all the spices are coated with the ghee. When you can smell the spices, turn off the heat. Stir the mixture and let it stand for 1–2 minutes.
Add the ghee/onion mixture and sambar powder to the cooked dal in the saucepan. Add in the tamarind paste to the pan. Add in the salt and jaggery. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 10-15 minutes on medium heat until the drumsticks are soft and tender.
Simmer all together for an additional 5 minutes, adding hot water if the sambar is getting too thick—it should be a bit watery. Add salt to taste. Garnish with fresh coriander, chopped red chili pepper (to taste).
Serve with dosa and or basmati rice.
If you do decide to give this recipe a try, be sure and share your comments and feedback!
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