Is anyone else desperately searching for flights out of this frozen tundra?? I know I am. And as much as I’d love a quick getaway, schedules and money are just slightly getting in the way. So if you can’t get away to the heat…bring it!
Let me start off by issuing an apology to any of my South Indian readers: I am sorry. This is not an authentic Sambar. For those who are less familiar, sambar is a traditional South Indian lentil and vegetable soup and is an accompaniment to pretty much any South Indian meal. You can dip your idli (rice cake) or dosa (rice flour crepe) in the spicy/tangy/savory broth. Or you can have it over rice, or the way I do: straight out of the bowl. This version came about after some extensive online searches for sambar recipes, as well as some deep soul searching into what ingredients I can make do with thus saving myself a trip to the store. I did not use Tur daal, as is traditionally used in sambars. No coconut or curry leaves. This is basically my usual daal, but with the addition of:
- mixed vegetables – so I can sneak some more veggies into my kids
- tamarind – to provide that distinctly tart taste
- cumin, coriander and chili powder – for a well rounded and spicy flavor profile
- and ketchup…because I was out of tomatoes.
I know, I know! Ketchup! But things changed when I got a bottle of REAL ketchup. Like organic ketchup, with no high fructose corn syrup. It’s not overpoweringly sweet. It tastes like…tomatoes. So it was really a wonderful substitute in this dish. I actually think I’m going to add it to more dishes (e.g. like my mother in law’s sweet chicken curry…the whole sauce is ketchup based!).
You can add as few or as many red chilis as you like. Just keep in mind, the longer you cook the chilis and sambar together, the spicier it will be. I prefer to just smush the chilis into the broth as I’m eating, little by little. But that’s only if you can handle the heat.
- 1/2 cup masoor daal, rinsed with water and picked through for any impurities
- 8 cups of water
- 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
- 4 dried red chilis
- 1 cup mixed vegetables (I used an assortment of frozen peas, corn, edamame and peppers)
- 2 tsps salt (or to taste)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- pinch of chili powder (or a 1/4 tsp depending on how spicy you like it)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 pinch pach forom
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1 tsp tamarind paste
- 2 heaping tbsps good ketchup
- a handful of cilantro
- Rinse the lentils in a medium saucepan and add the 8 cups of water. Add garlic and 2 of the chilis and bring to a boil over high heat. Watch carefully as it might overflow.
- Reduce heat to medium high and skim off the foam on top. Add the vegetables, salt, turmeric, coriander, cumin and chili powder and cook until lentils are cooked through (about 10 to 12 minutes).
- While that is going, heat the olive oil in a small to medium fry pan over medium heat. Add the onions and stir occasionally. When starting to brown around the edges, lower the heat and add the pach forom, minced garlic and remaining two chilis. Stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the tamarind with some of the liquid from the sauce pan. Add back into the saucepan, along with ketchup and fried onion mixture. Add the cilantro and check for seasonings. It should have a slightly salty bite.