I have been working on this recipe ever since visiting my local dosa restaurant and having it as a starter with dosas and coconut chutney about a year ago. There are many recipes for Sambar but after playing with the recipes – adding this and omitting that, I think I’ve finally come up with the version I like best.
Sambar is a very popular southern Indian soup that is usually served with dosas or idlis. It’s quite nice on its own too but I do like dipping the idlis and dosas into it. The combined flavour is to die for.
Most Indian restaurant here in the UK don’t have these on the menu so you are in for a real treat. Sambar is mildly spiced with just a little sugar and salt to give you a taste sensation that is truly unique and delicious. The pigeon peas bring it all together. I’m sure you are going to love this one.
- 225g toor dhal (split pigeon pea lentils)
- 1 teaspoon sunflower oil
- 4 large chopped tomatoes
- 1 medium sized aubergine - cut into 1cm chunks
- 1 tablespoon ginger puree
- 1 green chilli pepper - chopped
- 50g fresh or frozen peas
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 small bunch fresh coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt - or to taste
- FOR THE TARKA
- 60ml sunflower oil
- 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- A pinch of asafoetida
- 20 fresh curry leaves
- Soak the split pigeon peas in hot water for 20 minutes.
- Drain and rinse and then pour into a large saucepan.
- Add 1 1/2 litres water and heat over high heat.
- As you do this, a foam will raise to the top. Skim this off until no foam remains and reduce the heat to a simmer.
- Simmer for about 30 minutes until the lentils are soft.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and the ginger and green chilli and bring to a boil for about 3 minutes.
- Now, using a hand held blender (or any blender) blend until creamy smooth. I do this for about five minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients up to the tarka ingredients and simmer for a further 15 minutes.
- Remove the sambar from the heat while you make your tarka.
- In a small saucepan, heat the oil until hot but not yet boiling.
- Toss in the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, throw in the curry leaves and sprinkle in the asafoetida.
- Very carefully, add this seasoned oil to the sambar. The oil may spit some so I do suggest standing back a little when you do this.
- Stir in into the sambar and bring back up to heat.
- Serve hot with dosas, idlis or even with crusty French bread.