Sambar (lentil vegetable curry)
( SERVES 4 )
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|
|½ tsp||Ground chilli|
|1 tsp||Ground coriander|
|1 tsp||Ground cumin|
|1 tsp||Ground tumeric|
|1 can||Crushed tomatoes, 400g|
|1||Carrot, large, sliced|
|1 cup||Cauliflower, chopped|
|½||Eggplant, cut into 2cm chunks|
|100 g||Green beans|
|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. See more on tamarind on page 3. If you can’t find tamarind, just use an extra 1 ½ cups of water.