When I started this blog, I wouldn’t have imagined writing about this dish. Not because it is already such a popular dish and doesn’t really need introducing, but more so because growing up and up until very recently, I never really liked it at all. But like they say, our tastebuds change constantly, and what I didn’t like up until a year ago, changed completely when mum and dad visited me last year. This was when my mum made Sambar at home by grinding a fresh powdered spice at home. To the reader who is hearing about Sambar for the first time, it is a lentil and veggie stew and is such a popular and staple food in the South Indian states, and to be honest it’s going to become a favourite companion to your rice dishes.
Growing up, I remember making faces when I’d find out that sambar was on the menu. So childish! And this is despite the fact that my family and I originally hail South India where Sambar is a staple food. The fact that I didn’t like sambar was always a point of discussion among my friends and they’d knowingly annoy me more saying that they’d come home and ask my mum to make them sambar rice.
When I moved to the UK, I never bothered learning how to make Sambar, because I never once missed it or had a craving for it. You need really good sambar powder – this is the spice mixture that actually bring out all the distinct flavours. I didn’t know how to make it, and never asked my mum for it. But all this changed last year, when mum made sambar to accompany Dosas – which is an Indian rice based pancake. The sweetness of the onions perfectly complimented the sourness from the tamarind paste. The dal was perfect balanced by the spice mix and acts as the perfect source of proteins and deliciousness.
This recipe is adapted from my mum’s recipe and has soon become a firm family favourite. Serve this sambar alongside fresh hot rice with a dollop of ghee, some poppadoms, pickle and yogurt. Pro tip – add some of the pickle to your bowl of sambar, don’t tell anyone else.