An important part of a south Indian breakfast is sambar. We eat it with rice, dosas and idlis. It's almost a competition between the rasam people and the sambar people (ie those who like rasam vs those who like sambar). I'm a rasam person myself - I find it has a subtler flavor and is light and delicious. But when you have a good dosa in front of you, you've just gotta have sambar!
Sambar can be made with any and all vegetables. My favorite is carrot sambar, but the shallot kind is probably the most popular.
1 cup Shallots, peeled
1/2 cup Toor Dal
1 Tomato, chopped
1 tbsp Oil
4-5 Curry Leaves
1 cup Tamarind Water (about a marble sized piece of tamarind, dissolved in 1 cup warm water)
1/4 tsp Turmeric Powder
For the Spice Powder:
3 tbsp Split Yellow Lentils (Moong Dal)
1 tbsp Coriander Seed (Dhania)
3 Red Chillies
1 tsp Cumin Seed
1 tsp Urad Dal
1/4 tsp Fenugreek Seed
1/4 tsp Peppercorn
1/2 tsp Asafoetida
1/4 tsp Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Urad Dal
1/4 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 Red Chillies
2-3 Curry Leaves
1 tsp Oil
To make the spice powder: Heat a pan with the oil and add all the ingredients for the spice powder. Roast on medium-high heat until golden. Grind to a fine powder and set aside.
Cook the toor dal in 2 cups of water and mash very well when cooked. Keep aside.
Heat a pan with 1 tbsp oil. Add the ingredients for tempering. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the shallots and tomato and fry for a couple of minutes. Now add the turmeric and tamarind water. Allow it to come to a boil and continue to keep it at a boil for 5 minutes.
Add the ground spice powder and stir to combine. Let it continue to boil for 5 minutes. Add the cooked toor dal and boil again for 5 minutes. Add salt, to taste. If it is too thick, mix in some hot water. When it has reached a thick soupy consistency, remove from heat.
Serve with rice or dosas or idlis.
In this same method, you could substitute shallots with your favorite vegetable - some of the common sambar vegetables are drumsticks, carrots, eggplant, bell peppers, onions and okra.
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