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  • Sambhar
    Spiced South Indian Stew

    YIELD: 12 CUPS / 2.8 L
    TOOLS: You’ll need a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L stockpot or Dutch oven with a lid; a blender; and a 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan with a lid.

    Although I grew up eating (and loving) Punjabi cuisine, this South Indian dish is what I lived for when we visited close friends who hailed from South India. My Malathi, Parvathi, Jayanthi, and Saroja aunties are just a few who would happily feed me whenever I asked. Thanks to all of you for helping me create a palate and appreciation for authentic South Indian food.

    • 2 cups /460 g duhli toor dal (dried, split, and skinned pigeon peas), picked over, washed, and soaked for 1 hour in 6 cups / 1.4 L of boiling water, and drained
    • 7 cups /1.7 L room-temperature water
    • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
    • 6 cups /1.4 L boiling water, divided
    • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
    • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
    • 2 teaspoons red chile powder or cayenne pepper
    • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt
    • 1 tablespoon Sambhar Powder
    • 3 tablespoons /45 mL vegetable oil, divided
    • 5 cups /750 g chopped vegetables (I use a mix of onion, carrots, potato, daikon, tomato, okra, eggplant, and cauliflower)
    • ¼ teaspoon hing (asafetida)
    • ½ heaping teaspoon mustard seeds
    • 15 whole dried red chiles
    • 15–20 fresh curry leaves
    • 3–8 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed and sliced in half lengthwise
    • Brown or white basmati rice, Dosa, or Idli, for serving
    1. Combine the duhli toor dal, the room-temperature water, and the turmeric in a heavy-bottomed, 6-quart / 6-L stockpot or Dutch oven over medium–high heat and bring to a boil.
    2. Reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour. At this point, the dal will break down. Remove from the heat.
    3. Transfer the duhli toor dal to a blender and add 4 cups / 950 mL of the boiling water. Blend until smooth.
    4. Return the stockpot to medium–high heat and add the duhli toor dal, the garlic, the tamarind paste, the red chile powder, the salt, and the Sambhar Powder. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside to cool slightly while you prep the remaining ingredients.
    5. In a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan over medium–high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the chopped vegetables and cook for 2 minutes, until they are just wilted. Feel free to use any vegetables—this is a dish where winter vegetables like parsnips and turnips shine. Add the cooked vegetables to the stockpot containing the duhli toor dal and stir well.
    6. Return the sauté pan to medium–high heat and warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the hing, mustard seeds, dried chiles, curry leaves, and fresh chiles. Be careful to keep a lid handy, as this can splatter. Cook for 1 minute, until the red chiles are slightly browned. Transfer the mixture to the stockpot containing the duhli toor dal.
    7. Add the remaining 2 cups / 470 mL of boiling water to the stockpot and return it to medium–high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir well.
    8. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately with the brown or white basmati rice or, more traditionally, with Dosa or Idli.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

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