I had a first-rate cooking lesson yesterday with Chef Sajin.
Sambar is a sauce or gravy or condiment served with dosa and also with vegetables. Deeply flavorful, complex, it’s the kind of savory that makes everything with it taste good.
So I asked a Keralan chef I know, fellow who works at “Privacy,” which is part of Malabar Escapes to show me how he does it. Who, you might well ask, is Chef Sajin? Affable, organized, fast, and smart. This man deserves a cooking program! Calling all T.V. producers!
Imagine if Indian households could learn how to cook this healthy, delicious food! Chef Sajin explains how to do it in steps that are easy to follow.
1 “drumstick” (long, thin, green Indian squash)
1 small potato 2 okra
1/2 Indian eggplant.
Pressure cook the lentils in water and a little salt for five minutes. Set aside.
Cube the vegetables and pressure cook them in lightly salted water for five minutes. Set aside.
Take a small pot with a long handle–an Indian wok of sorts–and set the vegetables in it under high flame. Get a rolling boil going. Add about one cup of the lentils and stir under a high flame for about five minutes. Set aside.
In a frying pan, add two tablespoons of coconut oil. Put under a high flame. Add one teaspoon of black mustard seeds and one teaspoon of fenugreek seeds. Stir. Now add one small onion that’s been chopped up, two sliced red chilis, 2-3 sliced fresh green chilis, about a half dozen fresh curry leaves, 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric powder, 1/2 teaspoon of asafoetida powder, and three and a half teaspoons of sambar powder.
What is sambar powder? Well you might ask. You can buy this in stores or, better yet, make it at home, mixing small, equal amounts of chili powder, coriander powder, tumeric powder, fenugreek powder, mustard powder, crushed and pulverized curry leaves, salt, and asafoetida.
Back to the cooking:
OK, so by now the mix in the frying pan is a paste. Add one, small, cubed up tomato. Stir. Add all this to the boiled vegetable-lentil mix. Return the mix to a burner under a high flame. Add a little water to correct thickness. Add three teaspoons of tamarind juice. Stir. Add two teaspoons of chopped up fresh coriander leaves.
You’re done. I pity the mashed potatoes and fried onions that meet this sambar, I pity them!