Sambar is a popular South Indian stew made from husked and split pigeon peas (toor dal) and an array of vegetables. It gets its main flavouring from Sambar powder, an aromatic spice powder, which is easily available in Indian groceries around the world.
I have added only knol khol here so that its lovely flavour is not overridden by other vegetables. Serve this with plain boiled rice for a tasty lunch.
½ cup/115g toor dal
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
10-15 fresh curry leaves
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon asafoetida
500g knol khol, peeled and cut into bite-size cubes
½ teaspoon de-seeded tamarind chunk
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons Sambar powder, or more to taste
1. Cook the toor dal in a pressure cooker until tender, following the instructions of the manufacturer.
2. Heat the oil in a pan over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds. When the seeds begin to sputter, add the curry leaves and stir until fragrant.
3. Add the turmeric powder and asafoetida. Give a good stir before adding the knol khol. Add 1 cup/250ml water and cook until tender.
4. Extract the juice of tamarind in ½ cup/125ml water and discard the pulp. Add the tamarind juice and toor dal (along with the cooking liquid) to the vegetable. Mix and bring to a boil.
5. Add salt to taste and Sambar powder. Mix and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, before removing from the heat.
6. Serve hot.