Sambar (lentil vegetable curry)
Photo by Tamara West
Sambar is a lentil-based vegetable curry or stew that has to be one of the most commonly eaten dishes in India — it was served at every place we went. Some versions add a bit of coconut milk to it.
|1 cup||Red lentils|
|1½ cups||Tamarind water, (see below)|
|2 Tbsp||Vegetable oil|
|1||Onion, large, sliced|
|3 cloves||Garlic, minced|
|1 tsp||Black mustard seeds, (optional)|
|1 inch||Ginger, peeled and minced|
|1 tsp||Ground cumin|
|1 tsp||Ground coriander|
|1 tsp||Ground turmeric|
|½ tsp||Ground chilli|
|1 can||Crushed tomatoes, 400g|
|1||Carrot, large, sliced|
|1 cup||Cauliflower, chopped|
|100 g||Green beans|
|½||Eggplant, cut into 2cm chunks|
|1 Tbsp||Lemon juice|
|1 handful||Coriander, chopped, to garnish|
- Combine the lentils, water and tamarind water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are soft and mushy (about 30 minutes).
- Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until starting to turn golden brown (about 6-8 minutes).
- Add a bit more oil, garlic, mustard seeds, ginger, cumin, coriander, turmeric and chilli. Cook a further 2-3 minutes until the mustard seeds start popping.
- Add onion mixture, crushed tomatoes, salt, carrot, cauliflower, beans and eggplant to the pot of lentils. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender.
- Mix in lemon juice at the end, taste and add more salt and/or pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh coriander.
To make tamarind water, soak 3 Tbsp tamarind pulp in 1 ½ cups hot water. Use a fork to mash it up a bit and when cool, use your hands to squeeze the tamarind pulp to break it up further and extract as much flavour as possible. Strain the liquid through a sieve. If you can’t find tamarind, just use an extra 1 ½ cups of water.