Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mor Sambhar, not Mor Kuzhambu!!

No, this isn't the more popular Mor kuzhambu. I'd never even heard of this till about a year ago, when I was looking up some other recipe in Meenakshi Ammal's cookbook. Yes, this book gets one more mention on this blog.. pretty much every traditional south indian recipe seems to carry a reference to her book. I need to find some other cookbook quick!!

Anyway, this sambhar is different. It contains no tamarind. The idea is to replace it with sour buttermilk. I have no idea about the origins of this dish. Was this invented for people who were advised to stay off tamarind, or when tamarind was scarce?

According to Meenakshi Ammal, this is best made with okra or eggplants. If not, then maybe white pumpkin(ashgourd) or potato. Anything else is third rate!! She also suggests two ways of making this, one with the added powder(recipe given below), and one without. I've tried both and the one with the powder tastes much better.

3/4 C Toor Dhal
2 C eggplant/okra, diced
1-2 T oil
2-3 green chillis
1 t mustard seeds
1/4 t fenugreek seeds
1/8 t asafoetida
5-6 curry leaves
1 tsp ginger, minced
2 C buttermilk, preferably sour
1/2 t turmeric

Sambhar powder
1 T coriander seeds
1 T chana dhal
7-8 red chillis
1 t rice

Pressure cook the dhal with twice the amount of water. Dry roast first 3 ingredients for the powder, then allow to cool and grind to a powder with the rice.

In a saucepan, heat 1T oil. Add mustard seeds and allow to pop. Then add the fenugreek seeds, green chillis and asafoetida. After a half a minute, add the diced eggplant/okra and curry leaves and saute for 5-10 minutes on medium high heat.

Once the vegetables are mostly cooked, add the buttermilk, turmeric and salt and mix well. Keep stirring until it starts to boil. Once it starts boiling, add the cooked dhal and the ground powder. Add the minced ginger and stir often until it starts boils. Reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

This goes well with rice. As with all mor-kuzhambus and kootus, this tastes way better the day after it is made.