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Sambar with Cauliflower
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||Sambars appear in most meals in Southern India. They are a stew
of toor dal with vegetables and spicing, and are delicious. Finish with a
"tadka", a sort of aromatic garnish that gets swirled in. At the table a
quantity of rice is taken, some warm ghee (clarified butter) is spooned
over the rice and the sambar is stirred in, Personally I skip the ghee,
set the rice and sambar side by side and mix them as I eat - but then I'm
not of Indian ancestry.
Toor Dal (1)
Sambar Powder (2)
-- Seasoning Paste
Urad Dal (3)
-- Tadka (tempering)
Oil (orig ghee)
Red Chili dry
Curry Leaves (5)
PREP - (1 hr - 25 min work)
RUN - (16 min)
- Break CAULIFLOWER into moderate size florettes
- Wash TOOR DAL in several changes of water (the washing
reduces foaming). Put in a sauce pan with 2 cups Water and
bring to a boil uncovered (to prevent it from foaming over). Turn
to a very low simmer, cover and simmer for 45 min (or longer if you
want it very smooth as they do in India - I like a bit more texture).
Simmer uncovered a bit if necessary - there should be almost no free
- Scald TOMATOES 1 minute in boiling water, quench in cold
water, peel and cut into about 3/4 inch chunks, mix with
Sambar Powder and Turmeric.
- Stir enough water into Rice Flour to suspend it as you would
with corn starch.
- Make the seasoning paste: Put Oil in a small frying
pan and bring it up hot. Fry Coriander, Peppercorns and
Urad Dal until Urad starts to color. Take the pan off the heat
and immediately stir in Asafoetida and cool. Put in a heavy
mortar with COCONUT and about 1 T Water. Pound to a
- Mix Tadka: Split the RED CHILI lengthwise and mix with Mustard
Seeds and Curry Leaves (if you have them). Have this all
ready for the last moment before serving.
- Put Cauliflower in a sauce pan with enough water to about
1/3 cover. Stir in Tomato Mix and bring to a simmer until
Cauliflower is nearly done (about 10 minutes).
- Stir in Spice Paste, Rice Flour and Cooked Dal.
Stir in Salt to taste and simmer a few minutes to blend.
- Add Coconut Milk and adjust liquid as needed - Sambars should
be fairly liquid. Bring back to a simmer.
- Tadka: heat Oil in a small pan. Fry Mustard Seed Mix
stirring until mustard seeds are popping well (just a few seconds).
Pour over the sambar and give it a swirl.
- Serve with plenty of steamed long grain rice.
- Toor Dal: This is peeled and split
Pigeon Peas, also called Tuvar Dal. For a lighter flavor you could use
Moong Dal- peeled and split Mung Beans. Both these are available at
any market serving an Indian community.
- Sambar Powder: This is an important
masala in southern India. It can be purchased, but is better made at
home. Here is our Sambar Powder
- Urad Dal: This tiny white dal is
split and peeled urad beans (black gram). It is easily available in
any market serving an Indian community. If you don't have it, leaving
it out will not make a lot of difference.
- Asafoetida - Hing: This is the resin
of a giant fennel plant, used in India by sects forbidden to eat
onions or garlic. Caution: there are two forms: Pure
Hing (asafoetida beads or ground) and the more common "Hing Powder".
The "powder" is heavily cut with rice flour. The amount given here is
for pure asafoetida. Use about 3 times as much if what you have is
the "powder" form. For details see our
- Curry Leaves: These are essential for
the flavors of southern India, but if you don't have them, leave them
out - there is no acceptable substitute. For details see our
Curry Leaf page.
- U.S. measure: t=teaspoon,
T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce,
#=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required
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