It was a Sunday morning. The kids, after having played to their hearts content from morning until noon, rushed to have lunch. As the heavenly aroma of their favourite lentil stew wafted through, they were eager to have their favourire dish. These are some of my childhood memories.
Every Sunday, my mother would prepare sambhar to go along with hot rice for lunch. We kids, loved it and would first have our first course with sambhar and hot rice, mixed with a dab of ghee. And always ended up having a second course again, with the same combination. So, my mother always prepared a considerable quantity of sambhar, which would be consumed soon. Later, this was followed by the customary course of rice and curds with a dash of salt.
Sambhar is a traditional South Indian concoction, cooked with toor dal (slit pigeon pea) and a variety of vegetables simmered in a tamarind water. This is flavored with a special blend of spices known ‘sambhar masala’ and seasoned with cumin seeds, mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves.
My mother used to earlier prepare the sambhar powder at home. However of late, there are a variety of ready made sambhar masala powders available in the market, which makes cooking sambhar much easier. I always opt for MTR Sambhar powder as I find this resembles closest to the homemade masala.
What I love about sambhar:
a) It is highly nutritious
b) It is easy to prepare
c) Is a highly versatile dish, one can include as variety of soft vegetables in it and make it a rich stew
d) It can be savoured for breakfast along with idlis, dosas or vadas and for lunch with hot rice, too.
Some of the vegetables commonly used in preparing sambhar are: tomatoes, brinjal, ladyfinger, bottle gourd, drunsticks and onions. Other vegetables like pumpkin, radish french beans, potatoes, grated coconut and carrot can be included too.
There are many regional variations to this dish. And it may be cooked in varied ways in various South Indian states and households. Some of the traditional households prepare sambhar without adding onions to it. This dish is spelled as sambhar, sambar or sambaaru.
Everytime I relish sambhar with hot rice, I relive my carefree, childhood days and experience a feeling of utmost contenment!
I had started writing this post dedicated to ‘Sambhar’ on the eve of Friendship day celebrated, last Sunday on 7/8/16.
Brimming with healthy goodness, Sambhar is indeed a loyal friend!