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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Masoor Dal Sambhar

I opt for masoor dal when I need to cook a quick meal. This orange hued dal which turns yellow on cooking is one of the fastest cooking bean. It neither needs prior soaking nor a pressure cooker (to speed up the cooking process) as in the case of other beans. Besides those quick fix meals which are done in about 20 minutes, I reserve this dal even to those ocassions when I am feeling lethargic but still need a substantial meal. I usually prepare a sambhar or simple yet delicious dal tadka using masoor dal.

Though toordal is the commonly used bean to prepare sambhar, some other beans such as masoordal works well too. Sambhar - the signature South Indian vegetable - lentil stew gets its flavor and oomph from sambhar powder - the spice mixture used in the dish.
Coming to sambhar powder, there is no standard recipe as such. Probably, there are as many variations as the number of households in the region. Even in our families, everyone doesn't follow the same recipe for the sambhar powder. Each have their own cherished recipe which they follow and enjoy. The recipe which I am giving is from M's SILs which I personally like.

Sambhar Powder Recipe:
Ingredients for sambhar powder:
Chanadal - 1/4 cup
Coriander seeds - 1 cup (Quantity can be decreased / increased by 1/2 cup depending upon the spiciness preferred.)
Fenugreek seeds - 1 tsp
Shredded copra - 1/2 cup
Red Chillies - 10- 15

Dry fry the chana dal in a saute pan on low-medium flame till it turns reddish. Remove the chanadal and add the coriander seeds to the same pan and fry them. Pay attention as they burn easily. When they start to turn brownish and release aroma, add the fenugreek seeds & the red chillies. Saute them for a few seconds and turn off the stove. Cool the mixture and grind it into fine powder using a spice grinder. Store it in an airtight container.
Note: Decrease / increase the quantity of ingredients proportionately depending upon how much sambhar powder needs to be prepared.

Sambhar Recipe:
Ingredients required:
1/2 cup masoor dal
2 cups chopped veggies (I used carrots, green beans, radish, tomato & fresh soy beans)
3.5 cups water
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sambhar powder
1&1/2 tsp chili powder
Lime sized tamarind ( Soak the tamarind in a cup of water or nuke it in a microwave along with little water for about a couple of minutes. Squeeze the tamarind well with your fingers or put through a sieve and collect the thick pulp. Throw away the husks & residue.)
For tadka / popu: 1 tsp canola/peanut oil, 1 tsp each of mustard & cumin seeds, a little asafoetida and curry leaves

The cooking part:
Wash the masoordal in two changes of water. Then add it to an Indian style wok/deeper sauce pan. Add the vegetables, water and turmeric powder to it and cook it on medium - high heat till the dal is cooked.
After the dal is cooked, add the salt, chili powder, sambhar powder, 3 Tbsp tamarind puree and mix well. Taste and adjust the salt/tamarind if needed and add a little water if the sambhar is thicker. Bring it to a rolling boil, turn down the heat and let the sambhar simmer for about a couple of minutes more.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds & cumin seeds to it. When mustard seeds start to pop, add the asafoetida & curry leaves and turn off the stove.
Add this to the sambhar and mix well.
Serve this with hot, steamed rice and a tsp of ghee.

This goes to Think Spice - Think Coriander Seeds, guest hosted by Priya and the event creator is Sunitha.



prasu said...

yummy yumm.....sambar dear....good idea of using masoor dal.sure will try it.

Prathibha said...

I also use masoor dal in sambar n dal's..very quick n tasty too..
Loved that powder and look of ur sambar..

Happy cook said...

Pass me the last plate with rice an sambar, i am starving now seeing that pic.

Jennifer said...

Suma, This is a great idea! Does this give the sambar a different thickness than toor dhal? My hubby likes the thicker sambar that has less water. Any ideas how to get this?

AshKuku said...

I always keep a mix of toor & masoor dal. I use them both in my daily dal, kichdi & sometimes rarely in sambhar too, as sambhar is very rarely prepared at home, as my hubby is a North Indian.

I simply love the dal... I actually saw & learn 't from my Maa - in law about this dal. But peeps here do not think it is good for health....Is it true????? Still wondering...

Wishing u & ur family a very very happy DIWALI....


Suma Gandlur said...

I feel that the consistency between toordal & masooordal varies only by a small degree.
A well cooked dal is the secret for thicker sambhars. For thicker sambhar with less water, you can do these things.
1.The first one is obviously adding only as much water as needed to cook the dal.
If using an Indian style pressure cooker, try adding 2 cups of water for each cup of toor dal. (In India, usually dal is cooked by three whistles where as my dal here doesn't get cooked till I hear atleast a dozen.)
If cooking on stove top, you can always keep an eye & control the quantity of water.
2. Try cooking dal till it reaches mushy stage. Then you can mash the dal with the back of the ladle and you will have a thicker consistency.
3.If the dal remains firm and not mushy even after cooking and you have no further time to cook it, you can grind it in a blender.:) I know this sounds wierd to many Indians but I have seen people doing it.
4. Also never add salt to dal before it is cooked.
Hope this helps.

Suma Gandlur said...


Thank you and enjoy your Diwali.
I also have heard that masoordal is not good for health but I personally don't believe it. I have been eating masoor dal for ages now and haven't noticed any problems associated with it (if at all any really exist.)

Malar Gandhi said...

Sounds like a perfect meal to me, very comforting dish...

Uma said...

mmm. sambar on rice!! Too tempting!! Gorgeous pics. A very happy Diwali to you and your family!!

kitchen queen said...

delicious sambar! you can visit my blog also and give ur comments.