Wednesday, February 21, 2007

'Dal' Sambhar with Beans and Radish

Pressure Cooker
I eagerly look forward to reading the Washington Post especially on Wednesdays! Why? for the Food Section ofcourse. Today's was about "Pressure Cookers" sheer coincindece just yesterday I was answering a question about it. I have always known (but not happy) that Pressure Cookers are not popular in the US but all the same surprised to read that Pressure Cooker ownership is actually going down, thought it would be other way around, going by my eye survey, Pressure Cookers are being sold in department stores compared to few years ago - the sales person would give you a blank look even if you asked for it.

The fear factor is one reason and I can understand having witnessed the contents spewed all over the ceiling when the safety valve gave out. The scence was clearly in my mind when I started using pressure cookers, glad to report besides one incident when I forgot to put the weight nothing has spewed out and I use the pressure cooker everyday and sometimes more than once . Pressure Cookers today have safety valves that are much more advanced and the kind of explosion is not common unless you put the pressure cooker on the stove, lock the door and decide to go grocery shopping.

If you are interested in the inner workings of a Pressure Cooker, here it is in pictures in the Wasington Post website.

1. Workings of a Pressure Cooker
2. Chefs and Cook book Authors - Slow Cooker Vs Pressure Cooker

Do I have to say I am a BIG pressure cooker fan and can't cook without it. Like the recipe which follows which would have taken hours if not for my trusted pressure cooker. 2 different dals to cook, no problem it is possible in one shot with the vessels they provide placed one on top of the other and put in the pressure cooker.
I was planning on stir frying the Moong beans a la Thoran but decided on the 'Dal' Sambhar to make it a one pot meal.

'Dal' Sambhar
1. Toor Dal 1/2 Cup (washed and cooked in a pressure cooker with 1 1/2 cups of water a pinch of turmeric powder and 1/4 tsp of oil)
2. 1/2 Cup Whole Green Moong Dal cooked (I drained the water but the water can also be added to the sambhar just reduce the amount of water accordingly)
2. 1/2 Red onion chopped
3. 6 small red radishes slcied in rounds
4. 10-16 Beans cut into 1 inch pieces
6. seasonings cumin, mustard, curry leaves
7. 1/4 cup of tamarind pulp
8. 1 tbsp sambhar powder
9. 1 tsp of oil

1. 1/2 tbsp corriander seeds
2. 1 tsp of cumin seeds
3. 1/2 tsp of pepper
4. 1 Red chilli
5. few fenugreek seeds (methi)
6. 1 tbsp of grated fresh coconut

Dry roast 1-5 till they are slightly browned and pleasant aroma, add the coconut and saute for a minute. Make a paste.

1. In a pot heat the oil, add the seasonings, cumin, curry leaves and mustard and when the mustard starts to pop
2. add the onion and saute till brown, now add the beans and radish and saute till they start to brown.
3. Add the sambhar powder and saute for a minute or two.
4. Add the tamarind pulp and let it boil and when veggies are almost cooked
5. Add the cooked toor dal enough water for required consistency, salt and let it boil for 5-10 minutes and the veggies should be cooked.
6. Now add the cooked moong dal, the paste and cook for another 4-6 minutes.

Serve with rice or idlis or just by itself.

Pressure Cooker Pictures

Pressure Cooker and Dal utensils

Rice utensil


  1. Hey I am going to do a Dal Post too and even I have used the Pressure Cooker :)

    Never used Moong with Toor for sambhar, I thought Sambhar should always be done with Toor alone

  2. I love pressure cookers,how can I cook Tuar without that,I am scared even to think!Dal Bhath looks fab.

  3. ISG, you're reading my mind??!! Nevermind that this recipe will go straight to my must-try looks grand! -- it's just that I have been hemming and hawing over which pressure cooker I want to invest in. This article from WP should surely be interesting. You mentioned cooking 2 diff. dals at once -- if you don't mind my asking, what cooker are you using? I had a 6 ltr. aluminum model I wasn't thrilled with, little big for me and I gave it to my sis. I'd rather have stainless steel. Sorry for the long comment -- this has been on my mind all week! :)

  4. Lovely sambar. First here. You have a nice blog. Will visit you.

  5. Sandeepa, yes sambhar is always made with toor dal, I called it 'Dal' Sambhar because of Moong Dal being used more like a Vegetable in a way.

    Asha, me too scared of cooking itself! without a pressure cooker no way.

    Linda telepathy(??!!) I have uploaded my pressure cooker (with inside utensils) pictures. I have 3 different sizes (8, 5 and 3 ltrs) 8 is stainless steel, 5 and 3 are aluminium. The stainless steel one I use for cooking dals or rice using the "inside" utensils. But it is not best suited for cooking in itself like rice or other curries because they tend to stick more easily to the bottom. The aluminium one works best for this purpose because it does not stick that easily (something to do being less conducible to heat than pressure cooker I guess not sure). If you ask me for advice I'd say go with the aluminium one.

    Just for Fun, welcome to the blog!

  6. Linda that should read conducible to heat than stainless steel. Also I got my pressure cookers from India (TTK brand Prestige Pressure Cooker). I have seen their brand marketed here as Preeti I think. Those days there was only Prestige but now they have several other brands as well.

  7. cant imagine my life w/o pressure cooker. it makes life so easy... i make almost all rice items using it for our lunch boxes. good post...enjoyed reading it:)

  8. Thanks for the great info and pics, ISG -- that helps! Will see what I can see about Preeti/Prestige :)

  9. I love my pressure cooker too!can;t imagine a life without that.that dal looks very nice indeed.Can I have some for dinner tonight?:))

  10. Hi ISG
    sambar with two dals..sounds good.raddish in sambar is my hubby's favorite..

  11. Sambhar looks delicious..can't imagine life without Pressure cooker...:D.

  12. Me Too....Cookeriffic!!

    I can never cook rice / dal / non-veg without pressure cooker...

  13. SOunds very interesting, let me check my pantry, i might be able to make it tomarrow night, especially since i have strong Idli plans for dinner tomarrow. Thank you for the recipe. I just can't cook without pressure cookers, i buy one size or another in my trips to India.

  14. Hi ISG,
    Even I make payasam with pressure cooker. Your sambar looks like hotel sambar. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Sia, ViniK,Swapna,Maheswari,aneesha, Archana, MT - Cooking with/without a pressure cooker I am so glad I have strong company here.

    Linda Good Luck with the pressure cooker hunt.

    Archana - I do it too, Pressure Cooker is something I can't resist, on my last trip it was a 1.5 ltrs cooker.

    MT Payasam is one thing I have never cooked with pressure cooker, but why not right?

  16. Hey I use a Futura pressure cooker, got it from India. Looks very neat, but putting it in the dishwasher did it :(
    It doesn't look pretty now but works really well.
    What brands do you get here ?
    I liked the steel "separators" you have, the separators I have are aluminium

  17. I have 4! *gloat alert* hehehe

  18. HI ISG,
    I made it , tastes so good, i ended up making idlis for my lunch box too. Thank you.

  19. Sandeepa I don't know what brands are available here, I have only noticed Preeti being sold here.

    Inji I do envy you!!

    Archana, glad you liked it and thanks for letting me know. It was also nice to eat it just like a soup.

  20. Tell me life with a pressure cooker, ISG!! Can't imagine mine without one.

    Nice post!

  21. Shopping update, ISG ;)

    I didn't buy a pressure cooker yet, but I got a bunch of radishes... this is on the menu tomorrow!

  22. Hi Indo,
    I have prestige pressure cooker,from India ofcourse. I too can never imagine cooking dal without pressure cooker.I too go in for Alumuinium cookers only. Do u know that when u want to buy a new cooker u can always give the aluminium ones back to the store and get some money for that.. U cannot do that with stainless steel ones.
    Sambar looks good..

  23. Linda, search goes on eh. How about New York, they should have it for sure.

    Prema, I did not know that, wonder why the stainless steel cooker cannot be exchanged?

  24. Linda I used Whole Moong Beans (Whole Green Gram Dal) I did not mention it clearly I guess, I now understand why Sandeepa had doubts about the Moong Dal being used in the sambhar.

    I was talking to my mom and had to tell her about the whole moong and hence this clarification.

    (Moong Dal/Split Moong dal can also be used to make sambhar but usually I have made them by themselves, can always cook a combo too why not.)

  25. 10:37 Moong bean update. It's 10:53 here and I just came in to get the recipe down so I can begin. Telepathy?!? ;)

    Thanks for letting me know... this will be supper tonight methinks.


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