This is generally an accompaniment for rice, but it goes well with idli, dosa, uttappam, vada and even in my home with idiappam(string hoppers). It is most popular with rice though. This is ideal to be packed in tiffin boxes also, while some take rice and sambar in separate containers. I prefer it in mixed form (like bisibele bath).
When my mom would be away to relatives wedding or other functions, my dad would pack my tiffin box. He would mash and mix the rice with sambar and ghee and it would smell heavenly. It so happened once, when i was at work , i had to travel to DRDO and was late for lunch. I came and opened my tiffin box to see it empty. My colleague said, since you were late, i thought you would have lunch outside and the aroma from your tiffin box was irresistable and so I ate the ghee laden carrot sambar rice, while i had to eat the two puffs he brought from the nearby bakery. Ofcourse, the secret of a tasty sambar depends on the sambar powder one uses and we make the sambar powder at home. I have already blogged about the sambar powder recipe. Now, the ingredients and method for sambar.
Toor dal ( boiled and mashed) - 1 cup
tamarind juice extracted from soaking a golf ball size tamarind
sambar powder - 1 1/2 tablespoon
crystal salt - to taste( i use crystal salt, we can substitute it with table salt too)
hing - a small piece or equivalent to 1/2 teaspoon hing powder
haldi - a tea spoon
curry leaf - a sprig
mustard for seasoning
oil for seasoning( i use gingelly oil)
Vegetables - 1/2 cup of our choice( generally any of these or you can mix them also. pumpkin, raddish, drumstick, onions/shallots, even potatoes,brinjals,capsicum, ladies finger , beans or even tomatoes can be used). Sometimes, the taste of sambar depends on the veggies added also.
Boil the veggies along with tamarind water and haldi.
When the rawness of tamarind is not smelt add salt and sambar powder. Let it boil for a few minutes till you smell the aroma of sambar powder. Once the rawness of sambar powder vanishes. Add the boiled dal and simmer it till all the ingredients blend and you smell the aroma of sambar. Switch off and temper.
For tempering: take a tablespoon of til oil, add mustard, when it splutters. Switch off. Now add the hing and curry leaf to the heated oil and pour the tempered oil over the sambar. The sambar will sizzle and absord the tempering.
Serve it with rice or any tiffin of your choice.
Kathrikai Sambar ( Brinjal)
When making sambar with brinjals, onions, ladies finger...it is better to stir fry them in oil before boiling.
Pumpkin, beans, drumstick, raddish can be par boiled with little water and haldi before adding tamarind juice.
potatoes, carrots can be pressure cooked and added to the tamarind water.