South India is famous for sambar, a lentil and vegetable based stew. There are several varieties of sambar, almost every home has its own version. The sambar served in restaurants has a special flavor and its not very difficult to do the same at home. The original recipe from here has been modified a little. The ingredients list may look intimidating, but its super easy to make this and wont take more than 30 minutes from start to finish.
1/4 cup moong dal
1/4 cup pigeon peas/toor dal
1/4 cup+3 pearl onions
1 tomato chopped
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon sambar powder
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafetida powder
1 teaspoon oil
4-5 curry leaves
1 sprig of cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/4 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon Bengal gram/channa dal
2 dry red chilies
1 tablespoon grated coconut
1. Pressure cook the lentils along with turmeric powder, tomato and 1/4 cup pearl onions for 3 whistles. When the pressure is completely released, open and mash the lentils. Keep it aside.
2. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a nonstick saucepan and when its hot, add coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, Bengal gram and 1 dry red chili, fry till they turn golden brown.
3. Add 3 pearl onions and grated coconut to the above and grind to a smooth paste by adding little water.
4. In the same saucepan, add 1/2 teaspoon oil and when oil is hot, add mustard seeds, 1 dry red chili, curry leaves and asafetida powder. Fry for 30 seconds.
5. Mix tamarind paste in 1/4 cup of water and add it to the above.
6. Add sambar powder and salt and mix well. Bring it to a boil.
7. Add cooked lentils and ground paste and mix well.
8. Bring it to a boil and let it cook for 10-15minutes until the raw smell goes away.
9. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro leaves.