Vati Dal Na Khaman| Surti Khaman

I had shared the recipe for Instant Khaman (aka Nylon Khaman) on the blog, some time ago. It is made with gram flour (besan), requires no fermentation, and uses Eno to make it soft and fluffy. Today, I am sharing with you how to make khaman the way it is traditionally made in Gujarat, using batter made from soaked chana dal that is allowed to ferment. This is called Vati Dal Na Khaman in Gujarati, which literally translates into ‘khaman made using ground lentils’ in Gujarati.

The fermentation adds flavour to the batter, and makes the khaman soft and springy naturally, eliminating the need for Eno or any other raising agent. Vati Dal Na Khaman are, therefore, definitely healthier than the instant variety. The grinding of batter and the process of fermentation do take effort and time, but the overall process is definitely not very cumbersome. Also, the end result is so worth it, I promise! When made right, Vati Dal Na Khaman turn out perfectly jaalidar (the grainy texture marked with holes, like lace) and absolutely delish. They are slightly more dense as compared to the instant version, but definitely not too chewy or hard.

Delicious Vati Dal Na Khaman or Surti Khaman, steamed and ready to devour!

Vati Dal Na Khaman is also often referred to as Surti Khaman, because of their huge popularity in Surat, Gujarat. Many purists consider only this variety as ‘true’ khaman, and baulk at the instant variety. I happen to love both types, and consume both equally happily. 🙂

Some other interesting khaman/dhokla recipes

Looking for another instant khaman variety that can be put together in a jiffy? Check out this recipe for Instant Rava/Sooji Khaman ! You must also see this Instant Sooji Besan Khaman recipe – this post also mentions the differences between ‘dhokla‘ and ‘khaman‘, two very popular steamed Gujarati snacks.

This Chokha Na Lot Na Dhokla is an instant variety, made using rice flour.

I also have on the blog two different types of Khatta Dhokla, made using naturally fermented batter. Check out this and this. These Mug Na Dhokla are made using fermented batter ground from whole green moong beans.

Ingredients used in Vati Dal Na Khaman

Vati Dal Na Khaman are made in different ways in different households. Some make it with rice, some without. Some use Eno or baking soda, too. I typically rely on this recipe by Srujan of Diving Into My Pensieve, which she has adapted from Aneri, a cookbook by Nayana Shah. I have tried Srujan’s recipe several times over, and it always turns out beautifully.

This recipe uses chana dal, urad dal, and flattened rice (poha), all of which are soaked and then ground to a batter. A paste of ginger and green chillies is used for flavour, as well as lemon juice and jaggery powder. The batter is then steamed in a pressure cooker, allowed to cool, then cut into pieces. These pieces are then tempered with mustard, sesame seeds and asafoetida, and are served garnished with finely chopped coriander.

How to make Vati Dal Na Khaman

Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

1. 1 cup chana dal

2. 1/4 cup urad dal

3. 1/4 cup flattened rice (poha)

4. Salt to taste

5. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

6. 3-4 tablespoons sugar/jaggery powder or as needed

7. A 1-inch piece of ginger

8. 2 green chillies

9. Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

10. 1 tablespoon oil

11. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

12. 2 pinches of asafoetida

13. 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 2 and 3, Centre left and right: Step 4, Bottom left and right: Step 5

1. Wash the chana dal and urad dal thoroughly under running water. Soak them in enough water for 6-8 hours or overnight. Soak the poha in enough water for 20-30 minutes.

2. When the ingredients are done soaking, drain out the water from them. You may reserve this water for use during grinding, later.

3. Add the soaked and drained urad dal and poha to a mixer jar. Grind till smooth, adding only a little water as needed. Transfer to a large vessel.

4. Next, add the soaked and drained chana dal to the mixer jar. Grind coarsely, adding a little water as needed. Transfer this batter to the large vessel too.

5. Add salt to taste, to the vessel. Mix both batters well, using your hands. Set it aside, covered, for fermentation – this might take 12-15 hours.

Top left: The fermented batter, Top centre: Step 6, Top right and centre left: Step 7, Centre middle and right: Step 8 and 9, Bottom left and right: Steps 10 and 11

6. Once the batter has fermented, add turmeric powder and sugar/jaggery powder.

7. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies roughly. Grind both to a paste in a small mixer jar, using a little water. Add this paste to the batter.

8. Add the lemon juice to the batter too. If needed, add in some water, but not too much.

9. Mix the batter well. Now, you are ready to use the batter to make khaman.

10. Heat about 1-1/2 cups of water in a pressure cooker base. Place a stand inside. Keep the cooker base on high flame for it to get heated up.

11. Grease a wide vessel with a little oil. Place this on top of the stand, inside the pressure cooker. Let it get heated up too.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 12, 13 and 14, Below top right: The steamed khaman, Bottom right: Step 14, Bottom centre and left: Steps 15 and 16

12. When the water in the pressure cooker starts boiling and steaming, pour half of the batter into the hot, greased vessel.

13. Close the pressure cooker. Steam for about 20 minutes on high flame, without putting the whistle on. Switch off gas when done and wait for 7-10 minutes before opening the pressure cooker.

14. In the meantime, prepare the tempering for the khaman. Heat the oil in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard, and allow to sputter. Add in the asafoetida and sesame seeds, and let them stay in for a couple of seconds. Pour this tempering over the prepared khaman and spread evenly.

15. Garnish the khaman with finely chopped coriander leaves.

16. Your Vati Dal Na Khaman are ready to serve. Allow to cool down a little, then cut into square pieces using a knife, and serve.

17. Steam and serve the remaining batter too, in the same way.

Dietary Guidelines

This recipe is completely vegatarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet. Unlike several other Vati Dal Na Khaman recipes, this one does not use dairy curd.

It is not gluten-free because of the use of asafoetida in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour, to a lesser or greater extent, and are therefore best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. If you want to make these Vati Dal Na Khaman gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering.

This recipe does not use any onion or garlic.

There are no artificial additives like Eno or baking soda used in this recipe, like I was saying earlier. If you want, you may skip adding sugar or jaggery, too, for health reasons. Personally, though, we prefer the khaman with added sugar/jaggery.

Since the Vati Dal Na Khaman is cooked by steaming, there is minimal oil used, only in greasing the vessel and in the tempering. You may skip the tempering altogether, if you wish. I would definitely recommend the tempering – it adds such a flavour punch to the khaman!

Tips & Tricks

  1. Adjust the quantity of salt, sugar or jaggery powder, green chillies, and lemon juice as per personal taste preferences.
  2. I have used the medium-thick variety of poha here, from a brand called Bhagyalakshmi. That is what I use to make Batata Poha. You may use any type of poha instead.
  3. The time taken for the batter to ferment may differ from one place to another, depending upon the weather conditions. For me, it usually takes about 10 hours in the summer and 12-15 hours in cold weather.
  4. The batter needs to be very well fermented for the Vati Dal Na Khaman to turn out springy-soft and flavourful. If the batter doesn’t ferment well for some reason, you may add some Eno Fruit Salt (plain flavour) just before steaming it. I usually don’t need to.
  5. Citric acid (also called ‘nimbu ke phool‘ or ‘saji na phool‘) can be used in place of the lemon juice. Read my detailed notes about the use of citric acid, here. For Vati Dal Na Khaman specifically, I prefer using only lemon juice.
  6. If the batter is quite sour, you may skip the lemon juice or citric acid completely.
  7. Remember to wait for at least 7-10 minutes to open the pressure cooker after steaming. Allow the khaman to cool down before cutting it, otherwise it will become a soggy mess.
  8. Fresh grated coconut and/or curry leaves can also be used in the tempering. Here, I haven’t used them.
  9. I have used a large 7.5-litre pressure cooker for steaming the khaman. You can do the same in a vegetable steamer or dhokla plate too.
  10. The batter, once ground and readied, is best used on the same day. However, if there is leftover batter, it can be refrigerated and used for upto 2 days.
  11. Use very little water while grinding the soaked ingredients into batter. The same goes for the ginger-green chilli paste too. Using too much water can make the batter watery, and the khaman might not turn out perfectly.
  12. You may also add some garlic cloves, along with the ginger and green chillies. I don’t commonly use it.
  13. The time taken for the Vati Dal Na Khaman to cook might vary from one household to another, depending upon the type of steamer used and the consistency of the batter. The batter should ideally be runny and thick, not overly thick, definitely not watery.
  14. For best results, the water in the pressure cooker base and the greased vessel should be well heated up before you pour the batter in.
  15. Vati Dal Na Khaman can be served with Gujarati Kadhi Chutney and/or with this Papaya No Sambharo. I often also serve them with a mix of spicy Hari Chutney and Meethi Chutney. My blog friend Poonam has shared an Imli Khajoor Ki Chutney recipe that you could use too.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Instant Rava Besan Dhokla| Sooji Besan Khaman

Want a delicious snack within minutes? Try out this Instant Rava Besan Dhokla!

It is no secret that I love myself a platter of well-made khaman or dhokla. These steamed Gujarati snacks never fails to bring a smile to my face. 🙂

I had shared the recipe for Instant Khaman made using gram flour on the blog, some time ago. Today, I am sharing the proceedure for making another type of instant khaman (which also qualifies as a dhokla) – this one is made with a mix of rava and besan. Turns out spongy-soft and very tasty!

Instant Rava Besan Dhokla – soft and utterly delish!

Is this Dhokla or Khaman?

Though the terms ‘dhokla‘ and ‘khaman‘ are used interchangeably outside of Gujarat, the two are actually different dishes. Both dhokla and khaman are made by steaming a semi-liquid batter, but the ingredients used and flavour profile are quite different. Khaman is usually made using ground chana dal or gram flour, while dhokla is commonly prepared using a rice-lentil batter. Both dhokla and khaman can have added sugar, depending upon personal preferences.

Here’s how to make a nutritious Khatta Dhokla with idli rice and mixed lentils. This Chokha Na Lot Na Dhokla is made with rice flour, while this Mug Na Dhokla is made using whole moong beans and no rice. Speaking of dhokla, here’s a lovely recipe for Barnyard Millet Dhokla from my fellow food blogger Preethi.

This recipe is a cross between the instant gram flour khaman and the Rava Dhokla I had shared earlier on the blog. It can be referred to as both ‘khaman‘ or ‘dhokla‘ as it contains both gram flour and rava. Call it dhokla or khaman, one thing is sure – it is a beauty!

What goes into this Instant Rava Besan Dhokla

Like I was saying earlier, this dhokla is made with a mix of fine semolina (aka sooji or rava) and gram flour (besan). Salt, lemon juice, citric acid and sugar are used for flavour, as is a paste of ginger and green chillies.

This is an instant recipe that does not require any prior preparation. The batter does not require fermentation, so Eno fruit salt is used to make the dhokla rise.

No oil is added to the batter, which is steamed in a steamer or pressure cooker. A simple tempering of mustard, asafoetida and sesame seeds is added to the dhokla, along with a garnish of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves.

How to make Instant Rava Besan Dhokla

Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 2-4):

1. 1/2 cup gram flour (besan)

2. 1/2 cup fine semolina (Bombay rava/sooji)

3. Salt to taste

4. 3-4 tablespoons of sugar or as per taste

5. A 1-inch piece of ginger

6. 1-1/2 green chilli

7. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste

8. 2-3 fat pinches of citric acid

9. 1 sachet of Eno fruit salt (plain), about 1 teaspoon

10. 1/2 tablespoon oil + more for greasing the steaming vessel

11. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

13. 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

14. 2 pinches of asafoetida

15. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Below top right and bottom right: Step 4, Bottom centre and left: Steps 5 and 6

1. Take the gram flour and fine sooji in a large mixing bowl. Add in salt to taste and the citric acid.

2. Add in about 1 cup of water.

3. Add in the sugar.

4. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies roughly. Grind these together with a little water. Add this ginger-chilli paste to the mixing bowl.

5. Add in the lemon juice.

6. Mix everything into a smooth lump-free batter. Keep aside for about 15 minutes.

Top left and centre: Steps 7 and 8, Top right: Step 9, Centre row, left and middle: Step 10, Centre right: Step 11, Bottom left and right: Step 12

7. After 15 minutes, we will prepare the Rava Besan Dhokla. Take about 1-1/2 cups of water in a pressure cooker base. Place a stand inside the cooker. Put the cooker on high flame. Allow the water to start boiling.

8. Grease a wide vessel with a little oil. Place it on top of the stand in the cooker, so the vessel also gets heated up.

9. Check on the batter. If it has become too thick, add in 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to bring it to the right consistency.

10. When the water in the pressure cooker comes to a boil, add the Eno fruit salt to the mixing bowl. Mix well.

11. Immediately pour the batter into the heated greased vessel. Close the pressure cooker lid.

12. Steam on high flame for about 15 minutes, without the whistle on. Wait for 7-10 minutes before opening the cooker, after which a skewer inserted into the middle of the steamed batter should come out mostly clean. If not, it needs to be steamed some more.

13. Now, prepare the tempering for the dhokla. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add in the asafoetida and sesame seeds. Let them stay in for a few seconds, without burning. Now, pour this tempering over the steamed batter and spread evenly. Garnish with the finely chopped coriander.

14. The Instant Rava Besan Dhokla is ready to serve. Cut into pieces using a sharp knife or spatula. Serve warm or at room temperature, on its own or with green chutney and sweet chutney.

Vegan recipe, but not gluten-free

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan recipe, one that is suited to people following a plant-based diet. Many rava dhokla recipes include curd, but this is a vegan version that does not.

It is, however, not gluten-free because of the use of rava and asafoetida. Rava is made from wheat, and most commercially available Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent.

Tips & Tricks

1. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the batter. The right consistency of the batter is thickish but not too much, definitely not watery. It should be runny and pourable.

2. Taste the batter before steaming and adjust the salt, sugar and lemon juice according to your taste preferences. Ideally, the batter should taste sweet and sour, with the right amount of salt.

3. Adjust the amount of green chillies you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

4. The combination of citric acid, lemon juice and Eno fruit salt works best in this type of instant dhokla. It helps in making the dhokla spongy-soft and delicious. Read my notes on the use of citric acid in the ‘Tips & Tricks’ section of this post.

5. I think baking/cooking soda would work in place of Eno, but I have never tried that out.

6. Use a fresh sachet of Eno fruit salt well within the expiry date, for best results. Make sure you use the plain one and not the flavoured version.

7. Sugar works best in this type of dhokla. I think it can be replaced with jaggery, but I have never tried that out.

8. We do not use turmeric powder in dhokla as it reacts with the Eno and creates reddish patches.

9. Do not over-cook the dhokla. Steaming for a long period might make it hard.

10. Curry leaves and/or chopped green chillies can be added to the tempering too. We normally don’t use them.

11. You can use some fresh grated coconut to garnish the Instant Rava Besan Dhokla too, along with coriander. Here, I haven’t.

12. Add the Eno to the batter at the very end, just before you begin to steam it. Do not let the batter sit around too much after the Eno is added. Do make sure that the Eno is mixed well into the batter.

13. Make sure no water enters the vessel in which you are steaming the dhokla. It is crucial to place a stand inside the cooker, for this very reason.

14. The greased vessel you use for steaming should also get heated, for best results. Do stick to the proceedure as stated above.

15. I have used a pressure cooker for steaming here. You could also use a steamer instead.

16. Use only fine sooji (also called ‘Bombay rava’) in this recipe. The coarse variety of sooji (Bansi rava) doesn’t work very well.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu| How to make Poritha Kozhambu

Poricha Kozhambu aka Poritha Kozhambu is a type of South Indian gravy that is had with rice. It is made using vegetables and lentils, cooked along with a freshly ground spice paste. The dish gets its name from the roasting of ingredients in a little oil (‘porikardhu‘ in Tamil), which are then ground together to make the spice paste.

This is a very nutritious dish, made with minimal oil and no artificial/processed ingredients. It is an absolutely delicious thing too, and makes for a lovely change from the usual rasam and sambar made in Tamilian households. It is a simple thing to put together as well.

Today, let me take you through our family recipe for Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu, i.e. poricha kozhambu made using drumsticks.

Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu makes for a blissful and wholesome meal with some hot rice

Tamilnadu cuisine has several delectable kozhambu varieties to offer. This Paruppu Urundai Kozhambu from my friend Kalyani’s blog is such a beauty – lentil fritters cooked in a tangy tamarind gravy. I’m so sorely tempted to make it too. Been ages since we had some!

Ingredients used – a closer look

There are a few different versions of Poricha Kozhambu made in Tamilnadu. The way this dish is made in my mother’s side of the family and my husband’s side is also different. The recipe I am sharing with you today is from mom’s side.

Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu includes drumsticks, of course – the kind that grow on trees and not the crispy, spiced ones that are sold in diners! Drumsticks aka moringa are well-known for the several health benefits they possess, including their being rich in antioxidants and their anti-inflammatory properties. Check out this article by Healthline to know more.

Another major ingredient of this kozhambu is moong dal, which is high in fiber, antioxidants, and protein. They also possess anti-inflammatory properties. In case you would like to read up more about this, I am linking to this article on Healthline on the health benefits of moong (mung) beans, from which moong dal is made.

Apart from the usual suspects like salt and turmeric powder, this Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu also contains a freshly ground spice paste. Urad dal, dry red chillies, and coconut are roasted in very little oil and ground together, to make this paste.

The kozhambu is given a simple tempering – mustard seeds sputtered in some sesame oil, along with asafoetida, curry leaves, and a couple of dry red chillies.

How is Poricha Kozhambu different from sambar?

While both Poricha Kozhambu and sambar refer to a gravy (a sort of stew) made using lentils and vegetables, the two are quite different. The ingredients used in both dishes are different, and so is the resultant flavour profile.

For starters, there is no tamarind used in Poricha Kozhambu (at least in this version), while it is an important constituent of sambar. The spice paste used in Poricha Kozhambu includes only three basic ingredients, whereas they are much more elaborate in case of Arachuvitta Sambar. This Poricha Kozhambu recipe uses moong dal, as opposed to the toor dal that is most commonly used in the making of sambar.

How to make Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu

Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

To roast and grind:

1. 2 tablespoons urad dal

2. 4 Bydagi dry red chillies

3. 2 Salem Gundu dry red chillies

4. 1/4 cup fresh coconut pieces

5. A few drops of sesame oil

Other ingredients:

1. 1 cup moong dal

2. 3 long drumsticks

3. Salt to taste

4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

For tempering:

1. 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

2. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

3. 2 pinches of asafoetida

4. 2 dry red chillies

5. 2 sprigs of curry leaves

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Below top right and bottom right: Step 3, Bottom left: Step 4

1. Wash the moong dal in running water, thoroughly. Drain out all the water from it.

2. Transfer the washed and drained moong dal to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the dal completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Allow 4 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Meanwhile, we will prepare the spice paste that this dish requires. Heat a few drops of oil in a pan, then add in the urad dal, Bydagi and Salem Gundu dry red chillies. Turn the flame down to medium. Roast on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the lentils turn brown. At this stage, add in the coconut pieces and roast for a couple of seconds. Then, transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down completely. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn while roasting.

4. Remove the tops and ends from the drumsticks and chop them into 3-inch pieces. Keep aside.

Top left: Step 5, Top right and below: Step 6, Bottom right and left: Step 7

5. Take the drumstick pieces in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in a little salt and turmeric powder, as well as 1 cup of water. Place on high flame.

6. When the water starts boiling, cover the pan with a lid. Reduce flame to medium. Let the drumsticks cook on medium flame for 6-7 minutes or till they are done. Check one drumstick piece for done-ness – you should be able to open it up easily and remove the flesh with your hands.

7. When the pressure from the cooker goes down completely, remove the cooked moong dal from it. Mash it thoroughly.

Top left and centre: Step 8, Top right and below: Step 9, Bottom right: Step 10, Bottom centre: Step 11, Bottom left: Step 12

8. Once the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a small mixer jar. Grind everything together to a smooth paste with a little water.

9. When the drumsticks are done cooking, add the cooked and mashed moong dal to the pan. Also add the spice paste we ground earlier. Mix well.

10. Taste and adjust the salt. Add about 1/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder.

11. Add in about 1 cup water or as needed to adjust the consistency of the mixture. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the mixture thickens and all the ingredients are well incorporated together. Switch off gas.

12. Now we will temper the dish. Heat oil for tempering in a small pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add in the asafoetida, dry red chillies, and curry leaves. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds, ensuring that they do not burn. Add this tempering to the other pan. Mix well. Your Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu is ready. Keep covered for 7-10 minutes for the flavours of the tempering to seep into the dish, then it is ready to serve. Serve hot, with rice.

Is this a vegan and gluten-free recipe?

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan recipe, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

To make it gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most commercially available Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour, to a lesser or greater extent, and are thus best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet.

This is a no-onion, no-garlic recipe as well.

Tips & Tricks

1. There are a few different versions of Poricha Kozhambu. Some make it with toor dal, some with tamarind or tomatoes added to it. In some families, the ingredients used in making the spice paste are slightly different. Like I was saying earlier, this is the way Poricha Kozhambu is made in my mom’s side of the family. If you don’t like the idea of a kozhambu without sourness, I suppose you could add in some chopped tomatoes (after the drumsticks are cooked) and/or some tamarind extract (add this after the drumsticks are cooked, let it cook till the raw smell goes away) or lemon juice (add this at the very end, after the gas is switched off).

2. The moong dal should be well-cooked and soft. Ensure that it is completely cooked before adding it to the pan. For us, 4 whistles in the pressure cooker on high flame works perfectly fine, while this may vary from one household to the other.

3. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Poricha Kozhambu you require. It thickens up somewhat with time, so it is best to keep it runny.

4. I have used a mix of the spicy Salem Gundu dry red chillies and the not-so-hot Bydagi dry red chillies in the spice paste. You can adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.

5. I have used sesame oil (‘nalla ennai‘ in Tamil) here as it goes best in South Indian preparations like this one. However, you may use any variety of oil you prefer.

6. I have made this Poricha Kozhambu using drumsticks, but you may use any other vegetable instead. It is often made using a mix of vegetables (like carrot, potato, drumsticks, chayote aka chow chow or brinjal, and French beans/hyacinth beans). This dish can also be made using greens like moringa leaves (‘murunga keerai’ in Tamil), or fresh or sun-dried Turkey berries (‘sundakkai‘ in Tamil).

7. You may garnish the Murungakkai Poricha Kozhambu with some finely chopped coriander if you like, but it is not strictly used in the traditional version.

Did you like this dish? Do tell me, in your comments!

Mambazha Sambar| Ripe Mango Sambar

Mambazha Sambar is a summer-time delicacy in many Tamilian households. It refers to sambar made using ripe mango, usually with a freshly ground spice paste. With its mildly sweetish, sour and spicy tastes, this sambar surely is a flavour bomb. The mango-ey smell that fills the air when this sambar is cooking is absolutely heavenly, too!

This Mambazha Sambar is a recipe from my husband’s side of the family – we make more of raw mango sambar in my mom and dad’s side. I learnt how to make this after I got married and, now, the extended family loves the way I make it. We usually make a big batch of this Mambazha Sambar for lunch, to go with hot rice, and have the leftover with idli or dosa for dinner – a lovely combination either way!

Let me share with you all, today, how we go about making this dish at home. Do make it while ripe mangoes are still in season!

Mambazha Sambar, quite the flavour bomb!

You might also want to check out my recipes for Thai Sticky Rice With Mango, Mambazha Pulissery and Mango Lassi. Also, do check out our family recipe for Pala Kottai Sambar, another traditional Tamilnadu summer delicacy i.e. sambar made with jackfruit seeds.

What is sambar?

Sambar‘ refers to a sort of stew from South India that is typically made using vegetables and lentils. It acts as an accompaniment for rice and tiffin dishes like idli, dosa and vada. There are variations to the sambar made in different states of South India – in fact, there are a few variations that exist within each state itself. Here’s a recipe for Udupi Sambar, which is commonly served in the darshinis of Bangalore.

Tamilnadu sambar can be broadly divided into two categories:

  1. One made with a freshly ground paste consisting of coconut, dry red chillies, chana dal and other ingredients. This type of sambar is called Arachuvitta Sambar, which literally translates into ‘sambar containing a ground paste’.
  2. One made with sambar podi, which is a dry powder made using various roasted and ground spices. This version is called ‘podi potta sambar‘.

While sambar is typically made with toor dal, there is a variety we make using moong dal too, called Pasi Paruppu Sambar. Here’s our family recipe.

What goes into Mambazha Sambar

Like I was saying earlier, Mambazha Sambar is made with ripe mangoes and a freshly ground spice paste. It, therefore, falls under the category of ‘arachuvitta sambar‘.

The spice paste gives the sambar body and flavour, and is made using ingredients like fresh coconut, coriander seeds, chana dal and dry red chillies. Cooked toor dal is also used to add texture to the sambar. Tamarind extract and a bit of jaggery are used to balance the sweet-sour taste of the mangoes.

The Mambazha Sambar is tempered with fenugreek seeds and dry red chillies apart from the usual mustard, asafoetida and curry leaves.

Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group that I am part of.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is run by a group of enthusiastic food bloggers, who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme every month. The group members are divided into pairs. Each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, unknown to the rest of the group. The pairs then use these secret ingredients to prepare a dish that fits into the theme of the month. The other group members try to guess the secret ingredients, after seeing a picture of the dish. It’s quite a fun challenge!

The theme for May 2022 was ‘mango-based dishes’, suggested by Mayuri ji, author of Mayuri’s Jikoni. She suggested we prepare any dish of our choice using either ripe or raw mangoes, and I chose to showcase this family favourite Mambazha Sambar. Mayuri ji prepared this delectable Fajeto or Gujarati Ripe Mango Kadhi for the challenge.

I was paired with Radha of Magical Ingredients for the month. She gave me two versatile ingredients to work with – salt and curry leaves – which fit right into this recipe. 😊 I suggested she make something using flour and butter, and she prepared this amazing Mango Melon Pan.

How to make Mambazha Sambar

This flavourful sambar is not very difficult to put together. The proceedure is outlined below in detail.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

For the spice paste:

1. 4-5 Bydagi dry red chillies

2. 2-3 Salem Gundu dry red chillies

3. 2 tablespoons coriander seeds

4. 1 tablespoon chana dal

5. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)

6. A pinch of fenugreek seeds (methi)

7. About 1/4 cup of fresh coconut pieces

8. A few drops of oil

Other ingredients:

1. 1/2 cup toor dal

2. A small ball of tamarind

3. 3 small ripe mangoes

4. Salt to taste

5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

6. Red chilli powder as needed (optional)

6. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or as needed

Tempering and garnishing:

1. 1 tablespoon sesame oil

2. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

3. 2 pinches of asafoetida

4. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves

5. 2 dry red chillies

6. 2 pinches of fenugreek seeds

7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Below top right: Step 3, Bottom right and left: Steps 4 and 5

1. Wash the toor dal well and drain out all the water from it.

2. Take the washed and drained toor dal in a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the dal completely. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker and cook on high flame for 7-8 whistles. The toor dal should be well cooked and soft. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Soak the tamarind in boiling water, for it to soften. Let it cool down enough to handle.

4. Peel the mangoes. Chop the flesh into large pieces. Scrape off all the flesh from the seeds too. Collect any juice that flows out.

5. Measure out all the ingredients needed to make the spice paste.

Top left, centre and right: Step 6, Bottom left, centre and right: Steps 7, 8 and 9

6. Now, we will prepare the spice paste. Heat a few drops of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add in the Bydagi dry red chillies, Salem Gundu dry red chillies, coriander seeds, chana dal, cumin and fenugreek seeds. Turn the flame down to medium. Roast the ingredients on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the lentils turn brown – take care to ensure that they do not burn. At this stage, add in the coconut and roast for just 2 seconds. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate immediately and let them cool down completely.

7. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. Mash it thoroughly and keep aside.

8. Extract all the juice from the tamarind, once it has cooled down. Use water as needed to help with the extraction. Keep aside.

9. When the roasted ingredients have cooled down completely, grind everything together to a smooth paste in a small mixer jar, using a little water. Keep aside.

Top left: Step 10, Top centre and right: Step 11, Bottom left and centre: Step 12, Bottom right: Step 13

10. Now, we will start preparing the Mambazha Sambar. Take the tamarind in a heavy-bottomed pan and place on high flame. Allow to cook for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind is gone.

11. Add in the mangoes and a bit of salt. Mix well.

12. Next, add the cooked and mashed toor dal and the spice paste we ground earlier. Add in about a cup of water. Mix well.

13. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the sambar starts thickening and coming together.

Top left and right: Step 14, Below top right: Step 15, Bottom right: Step 16, Bottom left: The Mambazha Sambar, ready to serve

14. Add jaggery powder and red chilli powder, if using. Adjust the salt. Mix well. Cook for about a minute, then switch off gas.

15. In a small tempering pan, heat the oil. Add in the mustard and allow it to sputter. Then, add in the asafoetida, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds and dry red chillies. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds, ensuring that they do not burn. Now, add this tempering to the prepared sambar.

16. Add in the finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Keep closed for about 10 minutes, after which your Mambazha Sambar is ready to serve.

Vegan and gluten-free

This Mambazha Sambar recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

To make it gluten-free, skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most commercially available Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour, and are therefore best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, do go ahead and use it.

This is a no-onion, no-garlic recipe.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use mangoes that are juicy and ripe, but not overly so. They should be firm to the touch and a good mix of sweet and sour. I used 2 small Sindhoora mangoes and 1 small Banganapalli.

2. Adjust the quantity of jaggery powder and tamarind depending upon how sweet and sour the mangoes are.

3. For best results, the mango pieces should not be overly cooked. That is why they are added in after the tamarind extract has cooked well and lost its raw smell.

4. I have used a mix of the spicy Salem Gundu dry red chillies and the not-so-hot Bydagi dry red chillies here. You can use any variety you prefer. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies as per personal taste preferences.

5. The red chilli powder is optional. Use it only when you feel the heat from the dry red chillies is not enough. Ideally, this Mambazha Sambar should be gently sweetish, with just the right amount of spiciness and sourness to balance it out.

6. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the sambar you require.

7. Sesame oil (‘nalla ennai‘ in Tamil) tastes best in this sambar. However, you may also use ghee or any other variety of oil for the tempering.

8. Here, I have done the tempering at the very end so the smell of the sesame oil remains intact. You could even do so before beginning to cook the dish.

9. The Mambazha Sambar thickens up even after you stop cooking. Keep it a little runny so that the consistency is perfect when you serve it.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

Bateta Nu Shaak| Gujarati Potato Sabzi

Bateta Nu Shaak is a hugely popular dish in Gujarati households. It refers to potato curry or sabzi, which is made in many different ways across the state. Today, I am going to share with you all the recipe for a finger-lickingly delicious version of Bateta Nu Shaak, one that I learnt from a Gujarati neighbour of ours years ago.

Bateta Nu Shaak, Gujarati-style potato sabzi

More about this Bateta Nu Shaak

This is a sweet and sour sabzi, high on the flavour quotient but very easy to put together. There is no onion or garlic used – only some basic ingredients and spice powders – yet it manages to be super delicious. You will commonly encounter this Bateta Nu Shaak in Gujarati weddings, parties, and other social and religious occasions.

This sabzi is not exactly gravy-based, but it is not a completely dry curry either. It goes very well with phulka rotis, pooris and parathas alike, and also pairs up wonderfully with Gujarati dal and rice.

A closer look at the ingredients

Potatoes are the major ingredient here, of course. Regular-sized potatoes that are not waxy are commonly used to make this sabzi.

A paste of ginger and green chillies is added, which gives this dish a gorgeous flavour and fragrance. The sweetness comes from the addition of jaggery, while the sourness comes from tomatoes as well as tamarind extract.

A little garam masala is used in this Bateta Nu Shaak, as is the combination of roasted and powdered coriander seeds (dhania/dhana) and cumin seeds (jeera/jeeru) that is typical of most Gujarati curries.

The tempering for this sabzi is simple – just some mustard, cumin, asafoetida and curry leaves.

Bateta Nu Shaak recipe

Here’s how to go about making this sabzi.

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

1. 6 medium-sized potatoes

2. A small piece of tamarind

3. 1-1/2 green chillies

4. A 1-inch piece of ginger

5. 1 large tomato

6. 1 tablespoon oil

7. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

8. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

9. 2 pinches of asafoetida

10. 1 sprig of curry leaves

11. Salt to taste

12. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

13. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)

14. 1 teaspoon roasted coriander seed powder

15. 1 teaspoon cumin powder

16. 1/4 teaspoon garam masala

17. About 1 tablespoon jaggery powder

18. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander

Method:

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Bottom left and centre: Step 4, Bottom right: Step 5

1. Soak the tamarind in hot water for at least 15-20 minutes, for it to soften. Let it cool down enough to handle.

2. In the meantime, wash the potatoes thoroughly, to remove all the dirt from them. Cut them into halves. Take them in a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the potatoes completely.

3. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Cook on high flame for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

4. While the potatoes are cooking, peel the ginger and chop roughly. Remove stems from the green chillies and chop roughly. Grind the ginger and green chillies to a paste in a small mixer jar, using a little water. Keep aside.

5. Chop the tomato finely. Keep aside.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 6, 7 and 8, Below top right: Step 9, Bottom left and centre: Step 10, Bottom right: The tomato mixture, after cooking for 2-3 minutes

6. When the tamarind has cooled down, extract the juice from it. Keep the tamarind extract thick and not too watery. Keep aside.

7. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the potatoes out. Drain out the water from them. Let the cooked potatoes cool down completely, then peel them and cut into large cubes. Keep aside.

8. Now, we will start preparing the sabzi. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add in the cumin seeds and asafoetida, and allow them to stay in for a few seconds.

9. Next, add in the chopped tomatoes and curry leaves. Add a little salt. Cook on high flame till the tomatoes start turning soft.

10. Add in the tamarind extract, followed by the ginger-chilli paste. Cook on high flame for 2-3 minutes.

Left top: Step 11, Left centre and bottom: Step 12, Bottom right: Step 13, Top right: Step 14

11. At this stage, turn down the flame to medium and add in the cubed potatoes. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder (if using), coriander powder and roasted cumin powder. Mix well, but gently.

12. Add in the garam masala and jaggery powder. Mix gently.

13. Cook on medium flame for about 5 minutes, stirring intermittently. Take care to ensure that the potatoes do not get mashed up.

14. After 5 minutes, switch off gas and mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Bateta Nu Shaak is ready. Serve warm.

Is this a vegan and gluten-free recipe?

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan recipe, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

In order to make it gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most commercially available Indian brands of asafoetida have wheat flour added in them and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you can definitely go ahead and use it.

Tips & Tricks

1. Lemon juice can be used for souring the sabzi, instead of the tamarind extract used here. However, I strongly suggest using tamarind as it adds a unique flavour to the dish.

2. Adjust the quantity of tamarind depending upon how sour you would like the sabzi to be.

3. Sugar can be used in place of the jaggery powder used here. I prefer using jaggery.

4. Adjust the quantity of green chillies as per personal taste preferences. You may skip the red chilli powder completely, if the spice level from the green chillies is enough.

5. Do not overcook the potatoes. They should be cooked through, but not mushy. 2 whistles on high flame in the pressure cooker works just fine for me. Some varieties of potatoes need just 1 whistle, so check and work out the cooking time accordingly. Overcooked potatoes will turn the sabzi mushy and tasteless.

6. I stock roasted and powdered coriander seeds (dhania) and cumin seeds (jeera) in my kitchen, and use them as needed. Instead, you could use dhana-jeeru powder, the quintessential spice blend used in Gujarati households.

7. Make sure you cook the sabzi on medium flame so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir it gently, so the potatoes don’t break too much – this can turn the sabzi into a mushy lump.

8. I use home-made garam masala that is quite strong, so I use very little of it. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences.

9. If the sabzi gets too dry while cooking, a couple of splashes of water should help. Remember – just splashes and not too much water.

10. Sabzi masala or chana masala can also be used in place of the garam masala used here.

Some other interesting potato recipes!

We adore potatoes at home! I use them in a variety of ways, this Gujarati Bateta Nu Shaak being an all-time hit. I have documented quite a few of these recipes on my blog – Undhiyu, Dum Aloo, Assamese Massor Dailor Boror Tenga, Uttar Pradesh-style Aloo Rassedar, Aloo Paratha, Dabeli, Dhaba-Style Aloo Matar Ki Sabzi, Aloo Methi, Aloo Poha, Bombay Sandwich, Paani Poori, Bombay Saagu, Masala Dosa, Bread Rolls, Open Butter Masala Dosa, Mysore Masala Dosa and Masala Erra Karam Dosa.

A fellow food blogger, friend, philosopher, guide and potato lover, Sujata ji of Batter Up With Sujata has several aloo recipes on her blog too. Her Lemon Potato With Sesame Seeds sounds absolutely fantastic – got to try that out! In fact, I’m feeling adventurous enough to try out Sujata ji’s beautiful Eggless Potato Pie, thanks to her elaborately outlined recipe.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!