During my childhood, sambar was such a staple in my house, that I used to hate it! Can't believe I love it so much when I started preparing it on my own. So easy to prepare and you really don't need anything else when you have it with rice. Goes very well with idlis too. (I hated idlis too, but I still brought an idli thattu (idli maker) all the way from Pathanamthitta to New Jersey, so I better well make some!)
Credit: I followed Vazhayila's recipe to the T. Came out just like the way my mom used to make it.
Split Red Lentils (Split Masoor Dal) or Split pea lentils (Toor Dal) - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - a pinch
Salt to taste
Water - 1 1/2 cup
Oil - 1 tablespoon
Onion chopped - 1
Green chili - 2-3
Vegetables chopped - 2 cup (any veg of your choice, i prefer carrot, potato, ashgourd (padavalanga), drumstick (moringa oleifera), ivy gourd (tindora/kovakka), french beans)
Tomato - 1 or 2, chopped
Tamarind pulp - 1/2 tablespoon
Sambar powder - 2 table spoon (storebought or homemade)
Asafoetida (Hing) - a large pinch
Salt to taste
Dried red chili - 2
Wash and drain lentils. Add lentils with salt and pressure cook with just enough water for 3 to 4 whistles. If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can use a regular saucepan and cook the dal until its soft.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large dutch oven and saute onion and green chilies for a couple of minutes.
Add diced vegetables and saute for 2-3 minutes, followed by tomato.
Dissolve tamarind pulp in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of warm water and mix with Sambar powder.
Add this along with cooked lentils to the pot, with just enough water. Bring it to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for 20 mins.
Uncover when cooled, simmer again for a couple of minutes, add a pinch or two of asafoetida and chopped cilantro (optional).
Tempering:-Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When it starts to splutter add red chilies and curry leaves. Pour it over the sambar. Serve hot (or some people like it cold too) with Idlis, Dosa or Rice.