Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sambar with Eggplant and Green Beans


Sambar with idli & loads of veggies


Simple sambar with eggplant & green beans, with curry leaf garnish

I think I've mentioned how much I'm into Indian cooking these days. But now it's time to mix things up. I'm going super-international. The World Cup is finally in full swing, and it makes me think about how big the world is outside my own little pocket of American culture. Naturally, when I start dreaming about what it might be like to live across the world (or travel there, at the very least), I think about the food.

Four years ago during the last World Cup, and soon after I started this blog, I cooked several meals inspired by nations competing in the tournament. It was really fun! This time around, we're slightly more loosely organized. Yet, it's still a great opportunity to shake up our routine and eat dishes we don't have often enough, or that we've always meant to try.

Even though India is not in the World Cup, I'm posting my version of sambar, the medium-thick soup made with dal, vegetables and spices. It's often eaten for breakfast and served with dosas (crepe-like flatbreads) or idli, steamed savory cakes made with husked ground lentils. That will be the last Indian dish for at least a little while, so we can try out other international options.

To watch America's first game of the World Cup, where they TIED(!) England, we made the very simple, but very American, BLAT--bacon, lettuce, avocado and tomato on white bread with mayo. Lordy, I love a bacon sandwich, but I don't know the last time I had one. With a nice cold Sam Adams (Brewer. Patriot.), it was the perfect meal.


Homemade baba ganoush

Our next international destination was Greece. I attempted an on-the-fly taramosalata made with potatoes. Unfortunately, the texture was glue-like (anyone have a great recipe they can pass on??). Oh well. We also made baba ganoush and spanakopita, two favorites that I love to cook and eat. This spanakopita is healthy, EASY and it rocks. I'm not sure where we'll go next (although there's a taco place down the street that's been begging for a visit--Viva Mexico!). Meanwhile, enjoy this ultra-comforting sambar.


Veggies for the "kitchen sink" sambar depicted at the start of the post--check out the FRESH garbanzo beans in the front right!


Idli from the freezer section of the Indian market

Are you into the World Cup? Got any suggestions for international dishes I can try next?

Sambar with Eggplant and Green Beans
Many sambars use less dal because they are meant to be one course in a larger meal. To make a more substantial main dish, I increased the amount. Adjust the liquid to make this the consistency you want. Feel free to use any produce that you would put in a vegetable soup—squash, carrots, bell peppers, potatoes, leafy greens. There are endless variations on sambar, so you can have fun with it. You can double this recipe if you want extra to freeze or eat throughout the week.

Serves 4

5 cups water, divided
1 cup toor dal
1 1/2 Tbs tamarind concentrate
4 tsp sambar spice mix (I like MTR brand)
1 tsp turmeric
4 Indian eggplants, chopped (or 1 small Italian eggplant)
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise
1 1/2 Tbs ghee
1 Tbs black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 onion, finely chopped
8 curry leaves
2 dried red chiles, split
2 small hot green chilles, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped (or 3/4 to 1 cup canned diced tomatoes)
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

In a large pot, combine 4 cups water and dal and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, partially cover and simmer until very soft, 25-30 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup water, tamarind, sambar spice mix, turmeric, eggplant and green beans. Simmer until vegetables are tender. Add additional water if necessary to cook vegetables or thin the soup.

Meanwhile, heat ghee in a large skillet on medium. Add mustard and fenugreek seeds. When seeds start to sizzle, add onion, curry leaves and both types of chiles. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is soft. Add tomatoes, season with salt and cook until tomatoes begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add to dal and simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve with cilantro.

Update, October 8, 2010


Easy Pantry Sambar
4 main dish servings


6 to 7 cups water
1 1/4 cups toor dal
1 1/2 Tablespoons tamarind concentrate
4 tsp sambar spice mix
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Indian chile powder
Salt to taste
1 1/2 Tbs ghee
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 Tbs black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbs chopped ginger
1 cup chopped carrots (optional)
14 oz. can no salt added diced tomatoes
1 lb bag frozen mixed broccoli and cauliflower
Parsley or cilantro and lime wedges for serving

In a large pot, combine dal and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, partially cover and simmer over moderate heat until lentils are soft, about 25 minutes. Add tamarind, sambar spice, turmeric, chile powder and about 1/2 tsp salt. Add additional 1 to 2 cups water and carrots. Return to simmer and cook 10 minutes. Add tomatoes and frozen vegetables. Return to simmer and cook until vegetables are heated through and carrots are tender.

Meanwhile, heat ghee in a skillet on  medium. Add onion, season with salt and cook until lightly soft. Add mustard, cumin and fennel seeds; continue cooking, stirring occasionally until onion is lightly browned. Add ginger and cook 1 to 2 minutes more. Add to dal and serve with herbs and lime.

3 comments:

Joanne said...

Most of my Indian friends have loyalty to British teams so it's LIKE India is in the World Cup. Kinda. Sorta.

This looks delicious. I love Indian food! Very cute idea to cook your way through the world cup!

Sherlin said...

I am a great fan of India cuisines and Indian spices, as they are tasty as well as healthy. I love the south Indian dishes as they are served very fast. The sambhar contains so many vegetables and tastes just awesome. I would suggest the readers or those who are on india travel, should try sambhar and rassam.

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