This is one of my favourite dishes that brings back beautiful childhood memories. It was wonderful running around my grandparents’ mango orchards in the heat of summer and then diving into the pool of sambar to cool off. I was splashing around, when my fat aunt Idli and her surly husband Vada claimed I was drowning and yanked me out of there. They then took over the pool …
I love them tales, and wish I had some to tell you, but the fact is I had a boring childhood in a crowded metropolis with no grandparents alive, and an aversion to sambar.
I mean, I get along fine with Sambar as long as I am not required to eat it.
Ulli (onion/shallot) is not my favourite either, and I look forward to Ulli Sambar like I look forward to a root canal.
I posted this just for the ‘U’ dish for Nupur‘s A-Z of Indian Vegetables Event at One Hot Stove.
J loves this stuff. He got the whole pot.
We’re off for a few days. Talk to you when we get back.
½ cup split pigeon peas (toor dal)
½ tsp. turmeric
¼ cup chopped tomato
a small walnut-sized knob of tamarind
2 tablespoons fresh or dry dessicated coconut
2 tbsps. coriander seeds
3 dry red chillies
½ tsp. fenugreek seeds
10-12 shallots or 15-18 pearl onions (skinned and kept whole)
2 green chillies
½ tsp. asafoetida (hing)
12-15 curry leaves
3 tbsps. chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp. jaggery or sugar
½ tsp. brown mustard seeds
2 tsps. oil
salt to taste
1. Pressure cook the toor dal with 1.5 cups of water, the tomato and the turmeric until soft – 2 or three whistles. (We usually make a triple batch and freeze it in portions for later use)
2. Add ¼ cup of water to the tamarind and microwave for 30 seconds. Let it sit for a few minutes, and extract the pulp.
3. Toast the coconut in a pan until it begins to turn golden, keep it aside. Then toast the red chillies and half the fenugreek seeds for a few seconds, and separately toast the coriander seeds until they turn just a little darker.
4. In 1 tsp. of oil, fry 1 finely chopped shallot, half the curry leaves and the green chillies until the shallot is transluscent.
5. Grind the dry roasted ingredients and the shallot-green chilli mixture with about 2 tbsps. water to form a smooth paste.
6. Heat the remaining (1 tsp.) oil, add the remaining fenugreek seeds and the mustard seeds. When the mustard begins to pop, add asafoetida and the remaining curry leaves, stir for a few seconds, then add the shallots and cook for 3-4 minutes.
7. Add the tamarind pulp, salt and the ground paste, cook for a couple of minutes until the tamarind loses its raw smell.
8. Add the cooked dal, bring it to a boil, adjust the level of salt, check if the shallots are cooked. Add the jaggery if you wish.
Take if off the heat, garnish with chopped coriander, and serve with rice, idlis or rotis.