Sambar or vegetable and lentil stew is a popular south Indian dish. For most south Indians, its a staple eaten with rice. Fenugreek is rich in potassium, calcium and iron. Lentils are a good source of protein and iron if cooked the right way. So this dish is full of good stuff and comes together in 30 minutes. Pair it with brown or white rice for a perfect south Indian lunch or dinner. Fresh fenugreek leaves taste best for this recipe, you can find them in Indian grocery stores. You could add a combination of spinach and fenugreek leaves for this sambar or even just spinach leaves.
2 cups fenugreek leaves, roughly chopped
1 cup pearl onions or regular onions finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4 teaspoon asafetida powder
1 cup toor dal/pigeon peas
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
4 dry red chili peppers
3 teaspoons coriander seeds
3 teaspoons Bengal gram/channa dal
2 teaspoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
5 curry leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves
1. Pressure cook toor dal for 3 whistles in a pressure cooker. When completely cooled, mash the dal and set aside.
2. Soak fenugreek leaves in water with a pinch of sugar for 15 minutes. This step will help remove bitter taste from the leaves.
3. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a pan and add dry red chili peppers, coriander seeds and Bengal gram. Roast till the lentils turn golden brown. Grind to a fine powder when completely cooled and set aside. Alternatively, you can use store bought sambar powder and skip this step.
4. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a saucepan and when oil is hot, add mustard seeds. Cook for 30 seconds.
5. Add curry leaves, asafetida powder and pearl onions and cook till onions turn light brown. This should take about 5 minutes on medium flame.
6. Add drained fenugreek leaves to the above along with a tablespoon of water and let it cook covered for 10minutes on medium flame.
7. Mix tamarind paste with 1/2 cup of water and add it to the above. Bring it to a boil.
8. Add the ground powder, turmeric powder and salt and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes.
9. Add mashed toor dal/pigeon peas and mix well. Add 1/2 -1 cup water depending on the desired consistency. It should neither be too thick nor too watery.
10. Add chopped cilantro leaves and mix well.