Drumstick Sambar – Traditional Tamil style

Drumstick Sambar Sambar is to South India, what noodles is to china, Thai Red/green curry is to Thailand an over-commercialized symbol of the region, especially with the new age sambar masalas that bring grandma’s touch (why not cook’s or uncle’s or even better – mother-in-law’s touch? don’t want to antagonize the daughters-in-law?) to your sambar. I am not against sambar or sambar masalas, stupid stereotyping and gross generalizations make me cringe. Now that I’ve got the negative chi off my chest, let’s create some positive chi, some aromatic, flavour packed heavy duty sambar. The best sambars are perfectly balanced neither too tangy nor too hot. The secret to that lies in the amount of tamarind you use. So master the tamarind and you’ve got sambar covered. There are dozens of different Sambars, some with coconut, some with jaggery, with/without garlic, some without tamarind. Each household will have its own version. What I am posting today is one such version with tamarind and garlic. This Drumstick sambar is rich and full-bodied and is best had with hot steamed rice, a dollop of ghee, appalam, and potato roast or seppankezhangu roast (coming soon). Preparation time: 15 minsCooking time: 20-25 minsServes: 6-7  Ingredients Toor dal – 1 cupSambar onions/shallots – 10 + 10 peeled and choppedTomatoes – 2 choppedDrumstick – 2 cut into 2 inch piecesRed chilli powder – 2 tspAsafoetida – a pinchTurmeric powder – ½ tsp + ½ tspTamarind extract – small lemon sized Salt to tasteGarlic – 6-7 Coriander leaves chopped – a handful for garnishing For tempering Dry red chillies – 2 wholeGarlic – 6-7 pods unpeeledGreen chillies – 2Cumin – 1 tspMustard seeds – 1 tspCurry leaves – 1 stem  Method 1.      Pressure cook the dal with 2 cups water, half of the sambar onions (10), tomatoes, garlic, ½ tsp turmeric powder and a pinch of asafoetida for 15 mins or till well cooked. Mash up the dal mixture and set aside. 2.      Soak the tamarind along with salt in water for 10 minutes. Start with just enough water to immerse the tamarind. Extract the juices and again add water and extract. Repeat till you’re left with the dry pulp. You’ll get around 2 cups of tamarind extract. Set aside. 3.      Grind together the unpeeled garlic and green chillies without adding water to a coarse mixture, just a few seconds in the mixer. Set aside. 4.      In a pot/kadai,...
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