Sambar

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

Ingredients:

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

Method:

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.

Luv,
Mona

Tali huwi Bhindi

Have I ever told you that bhindi is one of my favorite vegetables?

Lady’s finger/Okra ~ Bhindi

I especially love Tali hui Bhindi, which is also a family favorite. If anyone of you is grossed out by the mucilaginous character of okra, then this dish is for you. Crisp and flavorful okra is the final result, perfect as an accompaniment to meals, a perfect way to enjoy okra. Judge for yourselves.

Tali huwi Bhindi – Crispy okra

Tali hui bhindi, Khatti dal, Chawal and Chicken 65 – our meal today. (Rizruby I tried your Chicken 65, it was yummy!)

Tali huwi Bhindi – Crispy okra

Ingredients:

Fresh and tender Okra/Bhendi – 2 lb
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Canola oil – 4 or 5 tbsp

Method:

1. Wash and pat dry fresh okra completely before you begin to cut it. Top and tail each and cut into thin slices. Keep wiping the knife frequently with a clean kitchen towel to remove the viscous substance.

thinly sliced okra

2. In a non-stick heavy bottomed large frying pan at medium high heat, pour oil, as soon as it warms up add the okra slices and gently mix. Let it fry for 3 minutes undisturbed. Give it a gentle stir. Again let it fry for 3-5 minutes and then give it a stir. By now, the okra will start to exude sticky slimy substance and form into a one viscous mass. But do not worry, it will dry off and disappear in just a few minutes. Do not stir and mix the okra a lot (which will result in more viscous stuff), only once in 3-5 minutes and very gently. In a few minutes, you will observe that the okra has shrinked in size and has started to brown. Once it is well browned and nicely fried, sprinkle red chilli powder and mix well. Serve the crisp fried warm okra immediately.

Tamatar ki Kadi

Delightfully sweet, and subtly sour, is how I describe the taste of this curry. Memories of my childhood are closely yet again associated with this traditional dish that my Ammi used to prepare with so much love for us all.

Tamarind – Imli
AntiClockwise from top – Tamarind pod; inside the pod without shell; tamarind seeds; tamarind pulp shaped into ball; leftover fibre from the pod to be discarded

Tamarind, an essential ingredient in Indian cuisine, is used in this recipe for a sweet-sour flavor. The prepared curry is then subtly thickened with finely powdered rice and allowed to cook for a little while to impart a silky texture to the curry.

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Pre-prererations for the curry: (you can prepare these a day before you plan to make the curry)
1. Tamarind pulp:

Remove the shell of the tamarind pod, and gently pull away the fibres meshed with the inner pulp and remove the seeds embeded inside. Discard the shell, fibre and seeds. Shape the pulp into a ball to use. (See the picture above for an idea)

2. Rice powder:

Soak rice for 2-3 hours in cool water. Drain the rice and spread on a cloth to air dry for a few hours. Once completely dry, powder the rice very very finely in a spice grinder to use. The texture of the rice powder should be similar to that of flour, or else coarsely ground rice results in an unpleasing gritty texture in the curry. This ground rice flour is used as the thickener in this curry.

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Tamatar ki Kadi – Okra and Meat in tangy Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

Canola Oil – 2 tsp
Ginger paste – 1/2 tsp
Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Fresh Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
Veal/Lamb/Goat/Sheep meat with bones – 600 gms (boneless meat is not recommended)
Tomatoes – 5, large, roughly chopped
Roasted Coriander seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Salt – to taste
Okra – young and tender pods, 100 gms, tailed and topped
Tamarind pulp – lime sized ball of tamarind pulp, or as per taste (see above)
Very Finely powdered Rice – 4 tbsp (see above)

Tamatar ki Kadi

Method:

1. In a pressure cooker at medium high heat, pour oil, and as soon as it warms up, add the ginger and garlic pastes. Fry it for a few seconds. Add the curry leaves and as they splutter, add the meat and the tomatoes, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric,, cumin and coriander seed powders and mix well. Pour in 3 cups of water and pressure cook until the meat is tender.
2. Open the lid of the cooker, and add the okra. Half cover the lid and let cook for 8-10 minutes or until the okra is tender. Add the tamarind pulp and mix well.
3. In a small bowl, add 1/2 cup warm water and add the rice powder to it. Mix well so that it doesnt get clumpy, and gently pour this mixture into the pressure cooker stirring continously. Let it cook uncovered for 10-12 minutes until the sauce leaves oil and thickens gradually because of the rice powder. Remove from heat and serve warm.

Once the curry is no longer warm, it begins to thicken due to the thickener added. If the left over is refrigerated it turns into a slighty pasty consistency, but do not worry, as soon as it is reheated with the addition of a little water, its consistency will thin up again.

Luv,
Mona

Kalonji Wali Bhindi-Tamatar Subzi

Bhindi or Okra is one of my most favorite vegetables. I love it a lot, and i am glad my loved ones love it equally.

I usually keep prepararing three kinds of preparations with Bhindi/Okra whenever they are available fresh which are so adored by my family. I either fry them or make a Curry/Patla Salan or sometimes make a sautéed dish with tomato and onion which is what I’m writing about today. We have it along with Parathas for Brunch on the weekends or at Breakfasts.

Kalonji Wali Bhindi-Tamatar Subzi – Sautéed Okra with Tomatoes and Nigella seeds

Adding Nigella seeds/Kalonji to the dish here gives it its own unique peppery taste. The seeds are also known for their medicinal value. These little things are considered as a herbal medicine for many ailments and is beneficial for good health. Lots about this spice is also written in the Quran, The Prophet Mohammad (صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ) has said “Hold on to the use of Black Seed for it has a remedy for every illness except death”. Evidence of the therapeutic use of Nigella seed has been found in all over the world. So I tend to add it to almost all the dishes I can in small amounts.

Kalonji Wali Bhindi-Tamatar Subzi – Sauteed Okra with Tomatoes and Nigella seeds

Ingredients:

  • Canola/Sunflower Oil – 3 tbsp
  • Okra Pods/Bhindi – 550 gms, washed, dried with paper towels, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Tomato (fresh)/Tamatar – 1, ripe red, large, finely chopped
  • Yellow Onion/Pyaz – 1, large, finely sliced
  • Nigella Seeds/Kalonji – 1 tbsp
  • Red Chilli Powder/Lal mirch powder – 1 1/3 tsp
  • Salt/Namak – 1 1/3 tsp

Method:

  • In a sauce pan at medium high heat, pour in the oil, and as soon as it warms up, add the kalonji, and the sliced onions. Let them cook till they are all nicely lightly browned.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and let it cook till they are sofy and mushy. Also throw in the red chilli powder and salt and mix well.
  • Lower the heat and add the chopped Bhindi and fry it for 3 minutes. Pour in a cup of water and close the lid. Let it cook till the Bhindi is soft and done. Keep opening the lid, and checking it, if it’s getting stuck to the bottom. Also, you can add a little more water if needed. Serve hot.

Serve it hot along with warm Parathas for a Brunch or Breakfast. You will also enjoy this as a dry side-dish along with Basmati Chawal/Rice.

Luv,
Mona

Bhendi aur Gosht Ka Khatta Salan

Bhendi, or Okra, is one of my favourite vegetables. It is available very easily in the markets, fresh as well as frozen. I keep buying it from the market very often to cook it for everyone in my home. But, you should always be careful while buying fresh Okra. I always like to buy tender baby okra. Larger pods are tough and fibrous, so look for brightly colored pods smaller than 3 inches (9cm) long, with smooth, unblemished skin and firm texture. Refrigerate okra in a plastic bag for up to three days. Wash okra just before using it.

Bhindi – Okra

Khatta Salan/Shorba means ‘soured stew’. The sourness from the tomatoes and tamarind, a slight heat from red chilli powder and the subtle sweetness from the roasted onions along with the roasted spices impart an aromatic and delectable flavor to this okra stew. This same base is used in many other versions of the khatta shorba, which are Karele ka Khatta Shorba, Aloo-Gosht ka Khatta shorba , Arvi-Gosht ka khatta shorba etc.

When boiled, okra gives off a viscous substance that can add smooth thickness to stews or soups. It can be a bit difficult to cook as it sometimes is very slimy. In this recipe, the sourness from tamatoes and tamarind helps while cooking to get rid of the sliminess. It is an excellent sourse of vitamin-C, folate, and magnesium.

Bhindi aur Gosht Ka Khatta Salan – Okra and Lamb meat Stew
Serves – 6-8 people

Ingredients:

Canola Oil – 8 tbsp
Yellow Onion – 3, large, sliced
Ginger Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Tomatoes – 5, large, diced
Curry leaves – 2 sprigs, fresh
Salt – 2 1/2 tsp
Roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/2 tsp
Red Chilli Powder – 1 tbsp
Lamb meat with bones – 650 gms
Cilantro – 3 tbsp, finely chopped
Okra/Bhendi – 700 gms, washed, dried and cut into approx 5 cm pieces with top and bottom removed
Tamarind concentrate – 2 tbsp (or) Lemon/Lime juice – 2 tbsp


Bhindi aur Gosht Ka Khatta Salan – Okra and Lamb meat Stew

Method:

  • Heat oil a pressure cooker and fry the sliced onions till lightly browned. Add the ginger garlic paste and sauté it along for a minute. Add curry leaves, red chilli powder, salt, cumin and coriander seed powder and turmeric powder. Mix well. To it add the diced tomatoes and cilantro and let cook cook for 3-5 minutes until the tomatoes are soft and the oil has separated. Add meat and cook along until no longer pink. Pour water to cover the meat and pressure cook until the meat is tender.
  • Once done, add tamarind concentrate or lemon/lime juice and okra and 2-3 cups water (as per your wish, depending on the consistency you desire) to the stew. Stir well and cover the lid. Let it cook on simmer until the okra is cooked. Serve warm.

Suggested Accompaniments: Naan / Afghani Roti / Basmati Chawal / Paratha

Luv,
Mona