Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sambar (Southern Indian Vegetable Soup)

So, this is my very first time attempt to photo journal a meal.  I missed several steps but if I can find someone to eat 13 cups of Sambar, I will make it again. (I have tons of leftovers.)  Any takers?!?

First, you start with 1 cup of Toor Daal and soak it in a large bowl filled with cold water for 2 hours.  After the daal is finished soaking, rinse it well and place in a pressure cooker with 3 cups of fresh cold water.  Seal the pressure cooker and turn it on high.  After 2 whistles remove the pressure cooker from heat and let it cool down.

Meanwhile, heat 2 TBS of oil in a skillet and add 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds and 2 dried red chilies.  When the mustard seeds start popping add 3 onions chopped coarsely.  Cook the onions till they start to brown stirring occasionally.  While the onions are cooking chop 1 TBS of fresh garlic and grate 1 TBS of ginger.

An important thing about adding garlic and ginger to an Indian dish is that you don't add them directly into the dish.  After the onions are browned, push the them to the sides of the skillet and place the garlic and ginger in the "hole" in the center of the skillet.  Allow them to cook for 2-4 minutes.  They should start to stick to the skillet, stir constantly.  After the garlic and ginger are cooked mix them together with the onion mixture.  Turn off burner and add a pinch of cumin powder and 3 TBS of salt...aye~yi~yi...I know that sounds like a lot of salt but believe me you will need it.  So, this is what the mixture will look like.  Now set it aside

Have I told you how much I LOVE caramelized onions?!?  Well, I DO!  They are one of my all-time favorite things to eat.  I mean they are delicious on burgers, omelets, deli sandwiches, oh man pretty much anything tastes better with caramelized onions.  If you don't believe me just add them to your next meal.

Okay, so now that your pressure cooker has cooled down, it is time to smash your daal.

I got this handy tool from the "bachelor" house.  Thanks Mum for supplying your boys with kitchen tools that I would one day need for my Indian cooking. Super thankful! It is so fun to smash things with.

Now time to chop your veggies.  You can pick just about anything to put into your Sambar.  I love carrots and tomatoes in mine so they always get in, but the other veggies vary from time to time: eggplant, zucchini, squash, celery, okra, potatoes, etc. 

This is what I put in my Sambar this time but it will change next time:
     1/2 an eggplant (6oz)
     3 carrots (8oz)
     2 celery stalks (4oz)
     1/2 a zucchini (4oz)
     1/2 a squash (4oz)
     4 small tomatoes (8oz)
     ** I usually hate celery but since I can't taste it in the sambar I add it to be healthier :)
     ** I don't think I would do both zucchini and squash since they have similar tastes and textures.  I think I would add a potato instead of squash.

 I chopped the veggies rather coarsely.  I think they were the perfect size!

After you are done chopping the veggies add them to the smashed daal.

 Look at all those healthy veggies going into your dinner!

I love veggies.  They make everything more colorful and delicious.

Now, stir the daal and veggies together and it looks like mush...yuck-o...but it gets better.

Next, I added about 5oz of tomato puree.

Then, add 2 tsp of Sambar powder.  You can find it at any local Indian grocery store or if you are lucky like me, your Mum will make you some from scratch and you get to use it. (I hope to journal making it from scratch soon, stay tuned.) 

Now add in your onion mixture and stir it thoroughly.

The above mixture was rather thick, so I added 3 cups of cold water to thin the sambar and stirred it well.

Now that looks better.  It is starting to really look delicious and it isn't even cooked yet.  Just wait...

Then place lid back on pressure cooker and turn on high for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and let sit till no pressure is released when you touch the "weight."

When all pressure has been released, open the lid and your house is filled with this wonderful smell of a delicious homemade Southern Indian dish that you will wonder how you ever lived without it.

Look at those veggies....

Sambar is served with rice.  I have an absolute delicious rice recipe but I will journal it another time.  It is so fantastic that my sisters and mom now make it regularly.  Actually, everyone I share the recipe with ends up making it often.  You will never get enough of it once you taste it.  Craving it yet?!? :)

Okay, so you have two options for serving sambar.  You can eat it in a bowl over rice...

or on a plate with a side of rice....

It really doesn't matter how you decide to serve it.  It is absolutely delicious any and every way.

After eating my first plate of sambar I realized I forgot to add cilantro.  2 TBS of roughly chopped cilantro can be added after the sambar is completely cooked.

Also, I only put 1 1/2 TBS of salt in at first and then had to add an additional 1 1/2 TBS of salt after eating my first plate (I did change the above recipe to state 3 TBS).

But after both of these modifications I would have to say that this was one of the best sambars I have ever tasted.  Hope you enjoy it as much as my family does.

From my Stove-Top with Love


  1. Yay!! first one to comment on your brand-new blog!! :) It looks so yummy...now i want to drive to Denver to pick up some more indian spices. Thanks for starting this blog - now I know where to go, to get my 'Indian' fix. :)

  2. Thanks Kay! I am excited about working on different dishes. I want to make Sambar again this week and do more details, so you will know exactly what you need when you go to Denver :)

  3. Wow, this looks SO good and you did a great job with all the pictures!! Can't wait to try this, and looking forward to more recipes! It makes me hungry just looking at it. :)