Sambar is a delicious richly flavored lentil and vegetable stew, native to South India. Many versions of sambar exist, and each one is just as delicious as the other one. The key for a flavorful sambar is a good sambar masala. Like there exists many versions of garam masala powder, similarly every South Indian household has their own version of the sambar masala. I have always only used the ready made MDH Sambar masala powder that is easily available in stores. But I really loved Padma’s Sambar and since then I have only been using her sambar masala to favor mine. I was so glad to discover the right sambar masala for me.

Idli served along with Sambar

Warm Sambar is a delicious accompaniment to South Indian classics like idli, wada, dosa, or just along with plain simple rice, etc. Today I have made Okra Sambar because I had only okra at hand, but the mixed vegetable sambar is the conventional and most delicious. The addition of a variety of vegetables add their own flavor to the spicy and aromatic sambar. Tamarind is the traditional souring ingredient used, but if unavailable you can use lemon juice.

Sambar – Spicy Lentil and Mixed Vegetables Stew
Adapted from here


Toor dal – 1 cup
Tomato – 1, large, chopped
Green chillies – 4, chopped
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Canola oil – 3 1/2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 3/4 tsp
Cumin seeds – 3/4 tsp
Dry red chillies – 4, each broken into half
Curry leaves – 3 sprigs
Mixed Vegetables – 2 cups (chopped/cubed: brinjal, potato, taro root, bottle guard, radish, zucchini, okra, drumsticks, french beans, carrot, pumpkin, beetroot, etc; peeled & whole pearl onions/shallots; cauliflower or brocolli florets) (I used only okra – 340 gms) (also I did not have shallots so I used 1 large sliced onion instead)
Thick Tamarind pulp – 5 tbsp
Jaggery/gud – 1 tbsp, grated
Cilantro – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Salt – to taste
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Sambar masala:
2 tsps of bengal gram/chana dal
2 tsps of black gram/urad dal
2 tsps of cumin seeds/zeera
3 tsps of coriander seeds/dhaniya
½ tsp black peppercorns/kali mirch
½ tsp of fenugreek seeds/methi
4 dry red chillies/sukhi lal mirch
¾ cup dry desiccated coconut/khopra

Delicious Warm Sambar


1. In a non stick frying pan dry roast all the spices separately under the heading sambar masala until they are just a few shades darker. Transfer all the roasted spices to a spice grinder and add a little water and grind to a smooth paste. Keep aside. This is the sambar masala.
2. Wash toor dal in several changes of water. Soak it overnight or for 2-3 hours in surplus fresh cool water. Drain, and wash in several changes of water. Add the washed and soaked toor dal to a pressure cooker. Add 1/2 tbsp oil, chopped tomato, green chillies, turmeric powder and 3 cups of water. Close the lid and pressure cook until the dal is mushy. Using a whisk or a dal ghotni or an immersion blender, blend the dal into a paste. Keep aside.
3. In a large saucepan at medium high heat, add the remaining oil. As soon as it is warm, add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they begin to crackle add the curry leaves and dry red chillies. (If you do not have pearl onions or shallots in hand, add the sliced onions and sauté them until they are pink). Immediately add the prepared mixed vegetables and mix well. Add salt and red chilli powder. Lower the heat to medium and pour in two cups of water. Cover with a lid and let cook until the vegetables are tender crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the tamarind paste and grated jaggery. Now add the toor dal paste prepared earlier along with chopped cilantro and sambar masala. Mix well. Add water to give it a thin consistency. Half cover with a lid and allow it simmer for around 15 minutes more until the vegetables are soft and a good aroma fills your kitchen. Stir frequently and well, as the toor dal tend to sink to the bottom and stick. Serve warm along with plain rice, or dosa, or idli, or wada.


Pleasing Paneer

During days when I do not feel like having any non-vegetarian meal, I treat myself with some Paneer in a creamy gravy curry. The non-melting attribute and meat like texture of Paneer is favored by vegetarians and is a very good substitute for meat.

Shallow fried Paneer cubes

To add a shahi touch/richness and thickness to the gravy, paneer is simmered in a cashewnut+milk puree along with yogurt and tomatoes. I have used milk instead of using cream, you can go ahead and use cream for the gravy if you want. You will definitely fall in love with this delightful paneer curry which is one my favorites.

You can use home-made Paneer,or store-bought~ easily available at Indian stores in the cold sections. Store brought ones has additives and lacks freshness, but saves time.

Shahi Paneer Masala – A Royal Cottage Cheese Curry


Yellow Onions – 2, large, roughly chopped
Canola oil – 5 tbsp
Home-made Paneer – 400 gms, cut into cubes (if using store bought, I recommend Mother-dairy brand)
Cinnamon stick – one 2″ stick
Cardamom – 2
Cloves – 2
Black peppercorns – 5
Ginger-Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
Cashewnuts – 1/4 cup, soaked in 3 tbsp warm milk for 30 minutes and pureed to a smooth paste
Yogurt 2% – 1/2 cup
Canned Crushed tomatoes – 185 ml (or you can also use 5 medium sized pureed tomatoes)
Salt – 1 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Karuri Methi – 1/4 cup
Milk 2% – 1 1/2 cup

Shahi Paneer masala


1. Grind the roughly chopped onions in a blender and make a fine paste. Transfer to a bowl and keep aside. In a separate bowl, whisk the canned crushed/pureed tomatoes and yogurt and keep aside.
2. Heat oil in a kadhai. Cut paneer into small cubes. Shallow fry over medium heat until light brown on all sides. Using a slotted spoon transfer the fried paneer pieces aside to a bowl.
3. In the same oil, add the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cardamom and cloves. Fry them for a minute and add the onion paste and fry for a few minutes until the raw smell wards off and oil starts separating. Add ginger-garlic paste and fry it along for a minute. Add the cashewnut+milk paste, tomatoes+yogurt mixture, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric powder and coriander powder. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add kasuri methi to the gravy and mix well. Add the fried paneer pieces and mix gently. Pour in milk and mix well, bring the gravy to boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the gravy becomes thick and oil separates. Serve.

This goes to JFI-Paneer being hosted by Trupti at her blog ‘The Spice Who Loved Me‘.


Dinner Today

The first Ashra of Ramadan has passed away الحمد لله. May Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) accept all our dua’s inshallah. Todays dinner after our 14th roza features Ivy Gourd curry, Khatti dal and Dum ka Murgh along with Afghani Roti and Khushka.

Ivy Gourd~(Coccinia indica, C. grandis) (other names in various languages-Scarlet fruited gourd, Little gourd, Donda, Kandori, Tindora, Gherkin, Kova, etc) is an Indian vegetable, grown on aggresively climbing vines, and a very good source of Calcium, Fibre and Iron.

Fortunately this vegetable is available here at my place at most of the Indian stores, priced a bit higher though, but nonetheless and I am very happy for that reason. This humble vegetabe is one of my favorites and it makes its presence on my dinner table whenever its cravings defeat me.

Ivy Gourd – chopped and whole

Ivy Gourds in dry tomato-onion gravy


Ivy Gourd – 2 pounds, topped, tailed, and chopped as shown
Onion – 1, large, finely sliced
Tomato – 2. medium sized, finely chopped
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Canola oil – 1 tbsp

Ivy gourd curry served along with Flat bread~Paratha


Heat oil in a pressure cooker at medium high heat. As soon as it warms up, add onion and stir fry until soft. Add chopped tomato, red chilli powder and salt. Also add in the chopped Ivy gourd and 1 cup water, and pressure cook for 10 minutes, until the Ivy Gourd is soft. Let cook uncovered until most of the moisture has been evaporated. Keep stirring occassionally and gently. Serve along with Parathas .


Dum ka Murgh – Slow cooked Chicken in Aromatic sauce


Chicken, with bone – 1.3 kg, cut into pieces
Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Almonds, ground – 1/4 cup
Garam masala powder – 2 tsp
Saffron strands, lightly crushed – 1/4 tsp
Onion – 4, large, finely chopped
Tomato puree – 2 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Red chili powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Lemon juice – 4 tbsp
Cilantro – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Mint leaves -1 tbsp, finely chopped
Ghee – 1/3 cup
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch stick
Cloves – 2
Green Cardamom – 2
Black Peppercorns – 4
Bay leaf – 1, dried

Dum ka Murgh


1. In a frying pan at medium high heat, pour ghee and as soon as it warms up add the sliced onions. Fry them stirring it frequently until golden brown in color. Remove the fried onions using a slotted spoon onto a paper towel lined platter. Reserve the leftover ghee.
2. In a mixing bowl, add yogurt, almond paste, garam masala, saffron, salt, fried onions, ginger-garlic paste, red chilli powder, lemon juice, tomato puree and cilantro and mint leaves to the chicken. Mix it all well. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let the chicken marinate in the aromatic paste for about 2 hours in the refrigerator.
3. Take the mixing bowl out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. In a large saucepan at medium high heat, pour the leftover ghee and as soon as it warms up add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, bay leaf, peppercorns and cloves. Saute for a few seconds and add the chicken mixture into it. Spread the chicken in a single layer and mix well. Cover the lid and cook on simmer for 20 minutes. Later, gently give a good stir and again cover and let cook for a further 15 minutes until oil leaves. Garnish with fried onions and serve with sliced onion rings and lemon wedges.

Suggested Accompaniments: Afghani Roti/Naan/Parathas or Plain Rice and Khatti Dal.


Rajma Pulao

Pulao and Qorma is one combination I love. And this particualar combination of Rajma Pulao with Vegetable Qorma is my favourite. Try it once and you will love it.

I had prepared it for dinner yesterday night after having Cabbage Pakodas for iftaar. I will be posting the recipe for the pakodas soon. During this month I haven’t got much time to post. Only two days more, and Ramadhan, the holy month will go away, and we will have to wait for an another year to for this auspicious month to again arrive. Eid, our festival, which we celebrate at the end of Ramadhan might be on this Saturday. On Eid we usually prepare dishes like ‘Nihari‘, ‘Biryani‘, ‘Cholay‘ and ‘Sheer Kurma’, a sweet dish which we muslims especially prepare on Eid of Ramadhan which is called as Eid-Ul-Fitr.

On Eid, we get up early, and the men and women go to mosque and offer the Eid Prayers, some women offer their prayers for Eid at home. We then greet our relatives and spend the day together with our loved ones. We celebrate Eid for the three days after Ramadhan. Back in India, we used to have a grand celebration on Eid, with our all relatives and loved ones visiting and greeting each other, the whole day.

Rajma Pulao – Red Kidney Beans and Rice Casserole

One of my friend had once invited me and she served Rajma Pulao. I had loved it and that day, I decided someday I will try to prepare that dish in my own way. So, yesterday, i was all set and we had Rajma Pulao with Vegetable Kurma, it was one yummy dinner which we enjoyed a lot. It didnt take a lot of time and I was very happy over my own successful experiment of preparing my version of Rajma Pulao.

Rajma Pulao – Red Kidney Beans and Rice Casserole


  • Long Grained Basmati Rice – 2 cups
  • Salt – 1 tbsp
  • Black Peppercorns – 4
  • Green cardamom – 2
  • Cinnamon – one 2 inch stick
  • Cloves – 2
  • Onion – 1, large, sliced thin
  • Oil – 6 tbsp
  • Sesame seeds – 2 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • Cashewnuts – 2 tbsp
  • Green chillies – 2, sliced lengthwise
  • Dried Red Chillies – 1
  • Shredded/Grated Coconut – 2 tbsp
  • Canned Red Kidney Beans – 1 Can


  • Make a bouquet garni with black peppercorns, green cardamom, cinnamon and cloves.
  • Boil five cups of water in a heavy bottomed bowl on stovetop and add the salt and the prepared bouquet garni to it. Once the water is boiling nicely, squeeze and remove the bouquet garni and add the rice and set the gas temp to 8 level.
  • After 3-4 minutes, take some grains of rice in a spoon from the boiling water and test them if they are soft enough. Once they are just soft, drain the water and adjust the gas level now to 2, and put the bowl of rice onto the stovetop and cover well.
  • Remove the bowl from heat after 2-3 minutes once the steam has nicely formed.
  • Meanwhile open and put the red kidney beans in a colander and wash them well in a water bath, taking care that you do not break the beans into pieces.
  • Pour 2 tbsp ghee/butter/oil into a pan and add the mustard seeds, sesame seeds, cashewnuts and green chillies and dried red chillies. Let them splutter up a bit. Then add the red kidney beans. Give it a careful stir and add this to the prepared rice.Mix it well with the rice
  • Pour 4 tbsp of butter/oil/ghee in a heavy bottom pan and fry the onions till brown and crisp. Remove in a paper towel and garnish the rice with the fried onion and serve hot.


Chanay ki Dal

Fall’s here! My first Fall here in Toronto insallah. I love the trees in this season, with colors of the leaves ranging from red, orange, yellow and some shades of green, nature’s beauty I must say! Earlier I only got to witness these beautiful sceneries in movies, but now I am able enjoy it all right in front of my house! I love to go out on walks, perceiving it all, and I thank my God for making Earth a beautiful place to live in, with all sorts of visual pleasures for humans to enjoy, admire and be thankful.

It has also become cold, and I look forward to the winter, again.. will be my first winter here. My hubby sometimes scares me, telling me about the temperatures going very cold, and it being shivering cold here during the peak in winter. I just am looking forward to see snow all around, hoping it wouldnt be so terrible as described inshallah.

Well, this recipe is one of the most easiest recipes, a Ramadan special served at Iftaars. Its an instant light snack and very nutritious.

Tip: While you are preparing dals, it is always necessary to pre-soak them in surplus water for 4-6 hours preferably. And then to drain and discard the water and wash the dal well in fresh water. The water in which the dal was soaked should never be used for cooking and should always be thrown away coz if you use that water, chances of intestinal gas (flatulence), bloating and abdominal cramps are higher, and you do not want to end up with that. If you do not have time to presoak the dal, you can use it as it is, but you should throw away the water in which you boil the dal.. losing some of the vital water soluble vitamins, so I always only pre-soak my dals. In the later case, you need not throw away the water used to boil it, as the water while soaking them was already thrown away.

Here goes the recipe:

Chanay ki Dal – Lemony Boiled Split Bengal Gram


Split Bengal Gram/Chana Dal – 1 cup
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Black Pepper Powder – to taste
Finely chopped small green chillies – 1 tbsp
Cilantro – 1/2 cup, finely chopped
Mint leaves – 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Lemon Juice – to taste

Chanay ki Dal


1. Wash and soak the dal for 4-6 hours preferably. Drain the water away and wash them well.
2. Now boil them in warm water, taking care you do not add too much of water to it. When the dal has softened up, make sure it not mushy and still in its shape, (the water shouldn’t be there, it should be dry). So, while boiling water, add only a cup of water and if it dries up before the dal being softened, add little more amount of warm water to it.
3. Remove the dal and add black pepper powder, salt, cilantro, lemon juice and chopped green chillies. Serve it warm.

This delicious dal is my entry to the event ‘Delicious Dals from India’ being hosted by Suma at her blog Veggie Platter.