Sambhar Dishes That Haven’t Crossed Your Mind Yet

Sambhar or Sambar is a traditional South Indian vegetable and lentil stew prepared in tamarind broth with spices, using minimal amount of oil. It is tasty, filling and nutritious to say the least. A delectable blend of different kinds of vegetables and aromatic spices, complemented by tangy notes of tamarind and the comforting presence of lentils really complete the dish, inducing the warmth and joy of home-cooked meals. The dish is usually made with toor dal or pigeon pea supplemented with brinjal or eggplant, onions, tomatoes, moringa or drumstick, pumpkin, okra or lady finger, and radishes. But in South Indian homes, every family has their unique way of preparing Sambhar, using the vegetable or lentil at hand, which tastes the same savory and toothy. So if it looks like sambhar, smells like sambhar, tastes like sambhar, then guess what? It is a sambhar. There is no hard and fast rule for making sambhar if you keep the basic components of the dish intact and it opens up a world of signature sambhar dishes that no one has tried before. So here are 5 variations of sambhar that you absolutely must try if they want to say they are in love with South Indian cuisine.

1. Manjal Sambar, Chickpea Flour and Turmeric Sambhar

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The world is a crazy place, one minute you learn that sambhar is made with lentils and the next you are introduced to a sambhar who does not use lentils at all. Yes, this quick and easy sambhar dish doesn’t involve the use of lentils or tamarind at all and comes together in minutes with minimal ingredients. The term “manjal” means yellow in Tamil, and manjal sambhar draws its inspiration from the turmeric used in its preparation. Along with this we have roasted chickpea flour or besan, onions, garlic, sambhar spice mix, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves and chillies greens to make this tiffin sambhar as it would be called in the South, since it is a makeshift sambhar. which is almost indistinguishable from the real one.

2. Palakottai Kuzhambu, Jackfruit Seed Sambhar

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Jackfruits are a versatile fruit in Indian homes, leaving its prickly and sticky outer shell, it’s a gold mine of flavor seeds and all. For the preparation of this sambhar, jackfruit seeds are separated from the pulp and pressure cooked until soft. Then it is peeled, chopped and added with toor dal and tamarind water with a host of spices, chopped green chillies and a substantial amount of jaggery, to make this truly bewitching sambhar that will blow your mind!

3. Pavakkai Pitlai, Bitter Gourd Black Eyed Peas Sambhar

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Bitter gourd is a big no-no to some, though it finds favor with a large number of Indians who not only approve of its bitterness, but appreciate the vegetable for it. This sambhar preparation calls for the use of steamed bitter gourd, along with a mixture of black-eyed peas and toor dal, and grated coconut to create something truly magical, something you would come back to. , especially if you’re not a fan of bitter things. The bitterness of the squash subsides into the creamy texture of the toor dal dissolving into the dish, the stickiness of the added coconut and the bite of the beans as well as the sourness of the tamarind. This sambhar dish is well balanced and not too bitter and if you are not convinced, try it for yourself and you won’t regret it.

4. Thakkali Sambhar, Tomato Drumstick Sambhar

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Step aside, tomato soup! Thakkali sambhar is where we go for our fix of deliciously sour and tangy stews that are made even more nutritious with the addition of drumsticks and lentils. Toor dal is used for this purpose, but really, any lentils you have in your pantry would work just fine. At first, the drumsticks are cooked with onions in tamarind broth until soft, to which the tomato mixed with grated coconut and spices is added. The boiled and mashed dal is finally added and simmered until everything is well incorporated. This sambhar isn’t too sour or tangy but nicely balanced with the right amount of sweetness from jaggery and grated coconut. And what more can we say, but the drumsticks at the end, which soak up all the flavors that, when chewed, release them again, making us chew even more until they can’t be chewed anymore.

5. Mullangi Sambhar, Sambhar Red Radish

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Red radishes are added to a regular sambhar but their presence is only felt in passing. This sambhar preparation calls for slowly cooking the radish to the end with the toor dal and spices and adding a tadka at the end to extract the maximum flavor. The shining light of this sambhar preparation is the radish, which is celebrated in the dish rather than made to mask its presence. No other vegetables are added to this extent and the slow cooking of this sambhar only makes it even better as the sambhar spices and tamarind really have time to merge with the tough radishes and the flavors of the radish to infuse along with the stew, making it a nutritious and healthy affair altogether. You can prepare it on weekends or at night and at the end you will be greeted with a hearty sambhar without having to spend time hovering over the stove.

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