I am a big fan of the sweetish sambar that is served with vada, dosa and idli here in several Bangalore eateries. Having been brought up in Gujarat, the tinge of sweetness in the sambar appealed to me, and I fell in love with it the very first time I tried it out after shifting to Bangalore. It was much later that I got to know that this sweetish sambar originated in Udupi, a small city in the Karnataka, which is also famous for a number of other delicacies.
When the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group chose ‘Recipes from Udupi’ as the theme this week, I thought it was only fitting that I write about this sambar that I so love. This is a recipe I have tried several times over, failed at, and then perfected. The secret, I’ve realised, is in grinding the sambar powder fresh, in very little batches, and grinding it well. If that is taken care of, and the toor daal is cooked nice and soft, this recipe (which I learnt from my aunt, BTW), works like a charm.
So, here’s presenting the recipe for Udupi sambar aka Bangalore hotel sambar or tiffin sambar.
For the sambar powder:
- 2 tablespoons chana daal
- 1 tablespoon urad daal
- 1 teaspoon cumin (jeera)
- 1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds (methi)
- 4-5 dry red chillies, or as per taste
- 2 tablespoons coriander seeds (dhania)
- A 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons fresh grated coconut
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 8-10 fresh curry leaves
- 1 medium-sized carrot
- A handful of shelled green peas
- 2 small-sized onions
- 1 medium-sized ripe tomato
- A few sprigs of fresh coriander leaves
- 1 teaspoon oil
- Red chilli powder, to taste
- Salt, to taste
- Jaggery powder, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
- A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
- 1/4 cup toor daal
First, we will get the spice powder ready.
- Heat the 1 teaspoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan.
- Reduce flame, and add in the chana daal, urad daal, coriander seeds, fenugreek, dried red chillies and cumin. Roast on medium flame till the daals turn brownish in colour and begin to emit a nice fragrance. Stir constantly, and take care not to burn the ingredients. The roasting should take 3-4 minutes.
- Add in the grated coconut. Mix well. Roast on medium flame for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Ensure that none of the ingredients get burnt.
- Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate. Let them cool down completely.
- When the roasted ingredients have cooled down fully, grind to a fine powder in a mixer. Keep aside.
Now, we will boil the toor daal.
- Wash the toor daal a couple of times in running water. Drain out all the water.
- Take the toor daal in a wide vessel, and add in just enough water to cover it.
- Pressure cook the toor daal for 4-5 whistles. It should turn very mushy.
- When the pressure has gone down completely, mash the cooked toor daal. Keep aside.
Now, we will prep the tamarind.
- Place the tamarind in a little vessel and add a bit of water. Place on medium flame.
- Let the water come to a boil, and switch off gas.
- Let the tamarind soak in the boiling water till it is cool enough to handle.
- Then, extract a thick juice from the tamarind, adding a little more water. Keep the extract aside and discarded the used tamarind.
Now, we will go on to prep the veggies you will need to make the sambar.
- Chop the onions length-wise or finely, as you prefer. Keep aside.
- Peel the carrot and chop into batons or cubes, as you prefer. Keep aside.
- Chop the tomatoes into small pieces. Keep aside.
- Keep the shelled green peas and curry leaves handy.
- Chop the coriander finely, along with the stalks. Keep aside.
Proceed to make the sambar now.
- Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in the same pan you used to roast the spices. Add the mustard, and allow it to splutter.
- Add the asafoetida and the curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.
- Add the chopped onions. Saute on medium flame for a couple of minutes, or until they turn brownish.
- Add the green peas and the carrot. Cook on medium flame, till the carrots are done. Sprinkle some water at regular intervals, if needed.
- Now, add the chopped tomatoes and the tamarind water. Cook on medium flame till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away, and the tomatoes turn slightly mushy.
- Add the cooked toor daal and 2 tablespoons of the sambar powder (or to taste) we made earlier. Also, add 1 cup water, salt, jaggery and red chilli powder to taste, as well as the turmeric powder. Mix well.
- Cook on medium flame till the sambar comes to a boil. Then, lower flame further and let the sambar simmer for a couple of minutes more. Taste and adjust spices/salt if needed. Switch off gas.
- Mix in finely chopped coriander leaves.
- Serve hot with idlis, vada or dosas.
1. I used the veggies that I had on hand. You can use any other veggies you want to. White pumpkin, capsicum and brinjals are some vegetables that go well in this sambar.
2. A Karnataka-special type of dried red chillies called Bydagi are usually added to the sambar in hotels, which is what gives it a deep brown colour. The colour of my sambar is different because I have used ordinary dried red chillies. The Bydagi does not have much heat, so if you plan to use them, you might want to mix them with some other variety of hot dried red chillies.
3. Dried coconut can be substituted for fresh grated coconut, in the spice mix.
4. I used refined oil to make the sambar. Using coconut oil instead would add in a lot more flavour.
5. Leave out the cinnamon from the spice mix, if you want to. I personally like it.
6. The jaggery is optional – add it only if you want to. In Karnataka hotels, jaggery is very much present, though.
7. If your dried red chillies are spicy enough, you can skip the red chilli powder.
8. Ensure that the spice powder is ground well and that the toor daal is well boiled and mushy, for best results.
9. The above measurements yields about 1/2 cup of sambar powder. The sambar, as stated above, needs only about 2 tablespoons of the powder. Store the rest in a clean, dry, air-tight box and use within 7 days or so. This sambar powder is best used fresh.
10. Use more toor daal if you want a thicker sambar. 1/4 cup of toor daal works out just perfect for us.
11. Some people add a few black peppercorns to the spice mix. I usually avoid that.
You like? I hope you will try out this Udupi sambar aka Bangalore hotel sambar or tiffin sambar, and that you will love it, too!
This recipe is for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme for this week is ‘Recipes from Udupi’.