Preparation / Directions:
1. Heat oil in a pan for 30 seconds.
2. Add a few (not all that you have) mustard seeds to see if the oil is hot enough. Once the mustard seeds begin to fry, add the rest of the mustard seeds. Reduce the flame to medium-low. The mustard seeds roast. Before they are burnt, do the next step.
3. Add the onion/garlic cloves and the green chiles to the pan and fry them. In about a minute, add the turmeric powder. Fry until the onion becomes slightly brown (in about five minutes).
4. Cut the tomatoes into medium sized pieces and add it to the pan. Add coconut powder and the sambar masala. Now the mixture becomes drier. Add a little oil (1 teaspoon) and fry the mix for five more minutes. The masala powder cooks in the oil and the aroma begins to intensify. After five frying, switch off the oven. This is the masala mix.
I usually add half teaspoon of red chile powder to make the sambar hotter. I also add a pinch of asafetida and half teaspoon of ginger powder to make the sambar more spicy and more aromatic.
4a. If you have vegetables, you have to steam them and cut into pieces and put them in the masala mix. They can be added at step 8 also.
5. Wash thur dhal with tap water three of four times. Add water to thur dhal at 2:1 ratio and boil it. I use a pressure cooker to do it fast. After boiling it, I mash it - either manually or by using a blender.
6. On a separate vessel, boil 1.5 cups of water with the tamarind paste. Put the petite onions in the vessel and boil them for about 10 minutes. The water is now almost black due to the tamarind paste and the onions are slightly brownish.
7. Add the mashed thur dhal to the tamarind water and boil for three more minutes.
8. Add everything to the pan which contains the masala mix and mix them well. Add two teaspoons of salt. Heat for five minutes.
9. Garnish with the cilantro leaves.
Sambar - A south Indian gravy item that is eaten with rice (for lunch and dinner) and with DOSAI or IDLI (for breakfast).
Pronunciation: 'sa' as in 'soft' - m - 'ba' as in 'bark' - r
You have to mix it with steamed rice and eat along with another more solid item made of vegetables (or non-vegetable). Sambar is the main course in south Indian lunch and