Dal (Lentil) Dishes

Sambar (Indian Lentil & Vegetables Stew)

Sambar is an utterly popular slow cooked south indian lentil and vegetable stew which is served with idlis, dosa, vada or steamed rice. It is fragrant, nourishing and very comforting. Lentils form a huge part of indian cuisine and every region has its own speciality. Sambar is an everyday dish of the south indian region and over years because of its delicious taste and nutrient dense value, it has become one of the most popular dishes in India.

However, in our north indian family, south indian food was made once or twice a month. It was a special meal and the preparations started a couple days ahead with mom fermenting idli batter and making chutneys. Her sambar recipe is the best if you ask me. I dont claim it to be the authentic for it differs in the selection of vegetables and the way she tempered it. So unlike the drumsticks and squash loaded ones, I grew up on sambar in which went chunks of capsicum(green bell pepper) and green beans and sometimes okra or eggplant. It was a warming, soul satisfying and a beautiful medley of flavors of sambar powder and taste of vegetables.

I make sambar like mom, with the same selection of vegetables. Be it the contrasting sweetness of jaggery and sour of fresh squeezed tamarind pulp or the chewy pungency of black mustard seeds and a subtle citrus nuttiness of curry leaves, every single slurp rings comfort into my soul..

Mom used store bought sambar powder and I do the same. We have a few favorite brands and I stock up on those whenever I go to India or someone is visiting. I sometimes find it in our indian store as well, its a pretty easy thing to find. However, if you do not have ready to use sambar powder, leave a comment and I will write you a recipe.

Many people like to use a blend of lentils but I make mine with just arhar daal (toor/pigeon pea lentils). Sambar is a easy thing to make and tastes better next day or after resting if you are serving the same day. You can prep the vegetables and make tamarind pup while the lentils are cooking(I pressure cook them) and just temper everything and simmer it for about 10-12 minutes.

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5 from 1 vote

Sambar

A flavorful,south indian pigeon pea lentil & vegetable stew. Best served with idlis, vada, dosa or steamed rice. Can be easily made vegan.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Indian

Equipment

  • Pressure Cooker, Cooking Pot

Ingredients

For Boiing The Daal

  • 1 cup arhar daal (toor daal/pigeon pea lentils)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2.5 cups water

Vegetables (substitute with your choice of vegetables)

  • 1 small capsicum/green bell pepper cut into bite size pieces
  • 12-15 green beans cut into 1 inch long pieces
  • 1 medium firm tomato quatered
  • 6-8 sambar onions/pearl onions peeled

Tempering The Sambar

  • 3 tbsp oil/ ghee I use avocado oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 3/4 tsp chana daal (bengal gram lentils)
  • 3/4 tsp split urad lentils
  • 1/4 tsp hing
  • 2-3 dried red chilies
  • Pinch methi seeds
  • 12-15 fresh curry leaves
  • 2-3 tbsp thick tamarind pulp adjust to desired sourness
  • 2.5 tbsp sambar powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp jaggery powder adjust to desired sweetness

Instructions

Boil The Daal

  • Wash the lentils throughly 2-3 times under a running stream of water.
  • Place in the pressure cooker. Add 2.5 cups water and turmeric. Soak for 20 minutes.
  • Once soaked, pressure cook the lentils in the same water for 3-5 whistles on medium heat. Switch off and let pressure release naturally. While the lentils are still hot, add salt and using a wooden masher or back of spoon mash the lentils well so that no grain is visible. Set aside.
  • While the lentils are cooking you can prepare the vegetables and tamarind pulp. Keep everthing ready.

Make the Sambar

  • In a heavy bottom pot,warm up the oil. Temper the oil with mustad seeds. Once they crackle, add the hing, chana & urad dal. Cook till the lentils are browned in color.
  • Add the dried chillies and methi seeds next. Saute fo r5-6 seconds till they swell a bit.
  • Add curry leaves to the oil, they will immediatley splutter so be careful. Saute for 2-3 seconds and add all the vegetables that you are using at once. Sprinkle a pinch of salt. Saute the vegeatble for a minute or so with the spices.
  • Next sprinkle the sambar powder and red chilli powder (if using) and saute for 20 seconds.
  • Add the cooked mashed lentils next and mix well. If you feel that they are thickish, add water to thin out as per desired consistency.
  • Mix well and let come to a slow boil on medium heat. Reduce the heat and add the tamarind and jaggery. Taste and adjust the salt. Mix well.
  • Let simmer for 10-12 minutes on low medium heat stirring a bit in between. Initially you will see that there is a layer of foam on the sambar but as it cooks out, the color will deepen so will the flavors. Rest for 30 mins and serve warm!

Extra Tempering (optional but recommmended)

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil or ghee in a pan and add 1/2 tsp mustrd seeds,pinch of hing, 1-2 dried chillies and 8-10 curry leaves. Add on top of the cooked sambar and mix well.
Indian Breads & Flatbreads

Stuffed Paneer Paratha

Soft and delicious stuffed paratha(flatbread) perfect with a bowl of raita(yogurt) and chutney. These are super easy to make especially is you prep a bit ahead. Fresh homemade crumbled paneer is the best choice here. You can refer to one of my past posts on how to make paneer at home. That is exactly how I make fresh crumbled paneer for parathas. Just follow the steps and skip the block making part.

Over the years, I have changed this recipe a bit from my mom’s. I used to feel that fresh crumbled paneer tasted a bit chalky in a paratha when used as it is. So now I saute the crumbled paneer with spices before mixing it with onions, chllies and cilantro. The result is a very flavorful filling which is fragrant and has a lot of texture.

Keep a few things in mind when you are making these.

  • Make the dough fresh and rest it (super important). The dough should not be too tight or too soft, in either case you won’t be able to roll the parathas. It is also super important to knead the dough for about 5-8 minutes to smoothen it out, it helps develop the gluten which is important for the right texture of the parathas.
  • When you saute the paneer, dont dry it out or brown it, thats not the purpose. We just want to add a lot of flavor with spices crackled in oil and sautéed with paneer.
  • Cook the parathas on a medium hot skillet using enough oil. Flip them carefully because they will be soft. Don’t press too much.
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4 from 1 vote

Stuffed Paneer Paratha

A soft and flavorful indian flatbread (paratha) stuffed with fresh paneer, herb and spices filling.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Breakfast, Main Course, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 6 parathas
Author: Tanvi

Equipment

  • Skillet, Rolling board and pin, 2 Bowls, Pan

Ingredients

For the Dough

  • 1.5 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • luke warm water, as needed
  • Extra flour for dusting while rolling the parathas

For the Paneer Filling

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric powder
  • Pinch of ajwain (carrom seeds)
  • 1 cup crumbled paneer
  • 3/4 tsp garam masala adjust to taste
  • 1/4 tsp amchoor
  • 1/4 cup onions finely chopped
  • 2-3 thai green chillies (adjust to taste) finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger finely chopped
  • Cooking oil as needed

Instructions

Making the Dough

  • In a large bowl, add the flour, oil and salt.
  • Gently mix with hands to combine everything together.
  • Start adding water slowly and mixing with the flour. Bring the flour together, adding water and squeezing continously with finger to bring it together to form a ball. I used a little over 1/2 cup water. Adjust water quantity depending on quality of the atta you are using.
  • Once the flour has come together, stop adding water and keep kneading for good 5-7 minutes or more to smoothen out into a soft ball, if at any point you feel that the flour is drying out or is too tight, add little water.
  • Once the dough is smooth and kneaded well, cover it with a damp cloth and let rest for 20 minutes.

Make the Filling

  • While the dough is resting, make the filling. Heat up 1 tbsp oil in a pan on low medium and crackle the cumin and ajwain seeds in there. Take take not to burn the spices. After 10 seconds, add the paneer and sprinkle all the powdered spices. Mix well and on low heat, saute the paneer for about 5 minutes. Dont let brown or dry out.
  • Once done, transfer to a bowl, let cool down a bit and add the chopped onions, ginger chillies and cilantro. Add a pinch of sugar. Mix very well. The filling is ready.

Make the Paratha

  • Place a tawa or cast iron griddle on the stove to heat up. Divide the rested dough into equal portions, you should get about 6 or 7.
  • Dust the dough portions in dry flour and roll into a 4 inch circle using a rolling pin. Place about 2 tbsp of filling in the center and bring around the sides of the dough to make a small round parcel.
  • Dust the rolling surface liberally and roll the stuffed dough parcel into a 7 inch circle. Dont press too much while rolling, ideally place yur rolling pin half on the surface and half on the dough for even rolling thickness. Make them as thick or thin you like.
  • Place the hot tawa. After 15 seconds, or when you see bubbles on top, flip the paratha, brush oil (about 1 tbsp), flip and let cook on oil side, brush oil on the second side, flip and cook till both the sides are golden. Dont press too much when cooking the paratha.
  • Repeat the above steps for the rest of the dough.
  • Serve wam with yogurt, butter, pickles or chutney.