According to Wikipedia, "A Hotel is an establishment that provides lodging paid on a short term basis...". But in India, especially the South, 'Hotel' simply means 'eatery' ,'Restaurant' - small or big. You might try to cook gourmet every meal, still the family outing to 'Hotels' is so exciting , is'nt it? However, eating out often is not a recommended habit . So, let's bring some excitement to the basic sambar.
Every hotel boasts of a speciality dish and people throng to have that delicacy. I have earlier shared some of the 'restaurant style' street food recipes, pizza recipes and side dishes. 'Sambar', is a balanced dish with lentils and vegetables blended along with Indian Spices. A must have accompaniment to any South Indian 'Tiffin'. The 'Hotel Sambar' is little more watery than what I make at home. Added to that, the sambar has the right amount of sourness, sweet and spice. People who prepare sambar regularly, will agree that small changes in the basic recipe and few additional ingredients gives a whole new dimension to the traditional sambar.
This is a tried and tested recipe in my kitchen for a couple of decades. I have tried to simplify the steps so that you can make it easily and enjoy 'Hotel Sambar at home'.
Hotel Sambar :
Preparation time : 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves - 4 to 6
1 cup = 250 ml cup
Special Equipment/Vessel : Pressure Cooker to boil the lentils, Old fashioned buttermilk muddler ( Matthu in Tamil) or a blender , Large Kadai/wok or wide pan
2 onions ( chopped thinly length wise)
2 tomatoes ( finely chopped)
15-20 shallots (peeled)
1 drumstick ( chop into 1" pieces, boil in 1 cup water it is tender)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder ( divided)
Juice from marble size ball of tamarind soaked in 1 cup warm water
1/2 cup toor dal/arhar dal/tuvar dal ( wash and boil with 1 & 1/2 cups water, turmeric powder, mash well )
2 tablespoons oil + 1 teaspoon ghee/clarified butter
salt to taste
To roast and grind ( Spice powder) :
2 tablespoons channa dal/ kadalai paruppu/bengal gram
2 tablespoons coriander seeds/dhania
5-6 dry red chillies ( adjust according to the heat of chillies)
2 tablespoon poppy seeds
1/2 " cinnamon stick
1/2 cup fresh coconut ( roughly chopped, adjust according to taste preference)
To temper :
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 green chillies ( slit length-wise)
pinch of asafoetida
1 sprig curry leaves ( tear them roughly)
To garnish :
Finely chopped cilantro/coriander leaves
1. In a pan, dry roast the ingredients given under 'to roast and grind'and powder them.
Tip: The roasting of the ingredients for the spice powder is an important step. Do not brown the ingredients. They have to just turn fragrant. You need not roast the coconut. If fresh coconut is not available, you can use coconut powder .
2. In a kadai/pan, heat oil and add the ingredients given under 'to temper'.
3. When the mustard seeds splutter, add the onions, tomatoes and the shallots.
4. As you are mixing the vegetables and cooking them over low flame, add salt and turmeric powder.
5. When the tomatoes have become mushy ( it will take approximately 3-4 minutes), add the boiled drumstick along with the boiled water, tamarind juice, toor dal (boiled and mashed) and the spice powder.
6. Adjust water and let the sambar simmer over low flame for 5-7 minutes. Keep stirring occasionally.
7. Switch off and garnish with cilantro.
Your Hotel Sambar is ready !!!
Serve it along with hot rice and ghee or as a side to any kind of Idli, Dosa, Upma, Pesarattu or Pongal.
You can also try traditional Onion/Vengaya Sambar .