Sadya without Sambar is unimaginable for a south Indian. It is the Queen of dishes in a vegetarian feast. It is the most popular vegetable curry to go with plain rice. Hence it would be one of the rarest occurrences, if people from a house hold in Kerala didn't know how to make Sambar, at least in the most simplest form. But I must confess here that it was one of the dishes I mastered very late. Infact, only recently.. (Now don't roll your eyes!! ) YES! It's true! My sambar was no where near to the yummy version. So I had felt always uneasy whenever I had to present my sambar in front of others, let alone guests... ;)
- Cook the lentils in a clay pot or heavy bottomed sauce pan with adequate water,onion and turmeric powder,until well cooked. (You can also pressure cook it.) Add the vegetables except ladies finger and sambar powder,with the spices and tamarind paste adding adequate salt.
- Meanwhile heat 1 tsp of coconut oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds. Add grated coconut and roast, stirring continuously until the coconut turns brown and aromatic. Add the spice powders and curry leaves and roast until aroma comes out. Remove from heat and let cool. Grind to a fine paste adding little water.
- When the vegetables are almost cooked, add the ladies finger and sambar powder and cook for another five minutes. Add the coconut paste to it and bring to boil. Mix well and remove from heat.
- Heat coconut oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds. Add shallots and fry until slightly brown. Add the red chillies and curry leaves. Pour this over the cooked sambar.
- Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or dosa.