Sambhar
  • Serves icon Serves 6
  • Time icon Hands-on time 30 min, simmering time 40 min

This South Indian pulses dish is a staple in the city of Chennai. Chetna Makan shares her recipe for this beautifully fragrant dish which is perfect for a Indian-themed dinner party.

Nutrition: per serving

Calories
265kcals
Fat
7g (0.7g saturated)
Protein
15.1g
Carbohydrates
33.2g (3.5g sugars)
Fibre
4.4g
Salt
1.3g
Calories
265kcals
Fat
7g (0.7g saturated)
Protein
15.1g
Carbohydrates
33.2g (3.5g sugars)
Fibre
4.4g
Salt
1.3g

Ingredients

For the sambhar spice blend

  • 50g coriander seeds
  • 10g dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp split black lentils (urad dhal)
  • 1 tbsp split chickpeas (chana dhal)
  • 1 tbsp split pigeon peas (toor dhal)
  • 10 dried curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp asafoetida

For the curry

  • 250g split pigeon peas (toor dhal)
  • 1 tbsp split chickpeas (chana dhal)
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 10 dried curry leaves 
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp spice blend
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste

Method

  1. To make the sambhar spice blend, heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat. Add the coriander seeds and toast for about 1 minute or until they start to change colour. Tip the toasted seeds into a bowl. Add the dried red chillies to the frying pan and toast for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add the chillies to the bowl.
  2. Add the cumin and mustard seeds to the same frying pan and toast for 1 minute or until they begin to change colour, then add to the bowl.
  3. Put all the dhals (pulses) in the pan and toast for 1 minute or until they begin to change colour. Add to the bowl with the toasted spices.
  4. Combine the toasted ingredients with the curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida, then use a spice grinder to whizz the mixture to a fine powder (or blend in a mini food processor or grind in a pestle and mortar). Leave the spice blend to cool, then store in a clean jar.
  5. For the curry, put the pulses in a pan with the salt, turmeric and 1.2 litres cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30-35 minutes until tender.
  6. In a separate large saucepan, heat the oil over a medium heat, then add the mustard seeds, curry leaves and dried chillies. Once they begin to sizzle, add the sliced onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until it begins to soften. Add 2 tbsp sambhar spice blend and mix well.
  7. Tip the cooked pulses into the onion mix, then stir in the tamarind paste. If the mixture is too thick, add 100ml freshly boiled water. Mix well and cook for 5 minutes, then serve.

delicious. tips

  1. The sambhar masala spice blend makes enough for several curries. Make a quarter of the mixture if you don’t want to store so much. If you can’t find split pigeon peas, use red lentils instead. If you can’t find split black lentils, use split yellow peas.

  2. Keep leftover spice blend in a sealed jar in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.

  3. Asafoetida is the dried and powdered gum from a plant that looks similar to fennel but tastes like a mixture of onion and garlic. You can find it in larger supermarkets or specialist food shops. The yellow variety has been mixed with turmeric for flavour.

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