If you had asked me if I liked sambhar about 20 years ago, the answer would have been a resounding No. This was when I had access to an amazing range of sambhar cooked up by some of the best cooks. When access is limited attiudes change, now I crave for sambhar and cannot go without it for more than 2 or 3 days. Some vegetables lend themselves to be added to sambhar and are very commonly used like drumstick, radish, beans-carrot-peas-potato, green mango, okra, brinjal and vegetables in the gourd family but for bitter gourd. There is no sambhar police and if you add zucchini or cabbage or spinach or chard leaves you are not going to be arrested.
For me drumstick had been a clear favorite for a long time till recently when another candidate is slowly inching to take that spot. Even the aroma from a drumstick sambhar is enough to satisfy half your hunger. Do you agree with me folks that drumstick sambhar is the best? But this post is not dedicated to drumstick sambhar but its close competitor the Swiss Chard sambhar. If you have not tried it you should and I guarantee it you would be rearranging your favorite list too.
Are you eager to reduce the carbon foot print? Do a small part and join the Swiss Chard Challenge . Don't be taken aback by the word challenge and by Swiss Chard if you are not familiar with it. Greens of any kind have to be grown that is all. Hop over to the link to see what it is all about.
Have you purchased the seeds?
Yes you have to hop on to the dreaded automobile to purchase those seeds but if you combine it with other trips, it is going to be green isn't? Most stores have put out the seeds for sale and I picked mine a few weeks ago.
The recipe is quite simple if you make sambhar but here it is. I have used the pressure cooker to complete the entire sambhar.
Vegetables cooking in tamarind extract along with the sambhar powder
Swiss Chard Sambhar
1. 1 Cup toor dal washed, turmeric powder, drops of sesame oil
2. 1/2 onion chopped fine (or shallots sliced fine, these are the ones used back home)
3. 2 Cups Swiss Chard cleaned and chopped (I used a combination of swiss chard and beet leaves) [any other vegetable can be substituted. See Note:]
4. 1/4 cup tamarind extract from small lime sized ball of tamarind. If using tamarind paste use 3 tsp mixed in a 1/2 cup of water.
5. 1 tbsp sambhar powder
6. seasonings: curry leaves, mustard, asfoetida a tiny bit, cumin and methi seeds
7. 1 tsp oil, salt to taste
1. Add toor dal to the pressure cooker with 2 cups of water, a pinch of turmeric powder and few drops of sesame oil and cook for 2 whistles or till soft.
2. Transfer the contents to a container, now in the same cooker heat the oil add the seasoning, saute the onions till translucent.
3. Add the chard leaves (or any other vegetable) and saute them for about 4-5 minutes and add the sambhar powder.
4. Now add the tamarind extract and mix well. Let it boil for about 3-4 minutes or till the vegetable is almost cooked and soft. Greens cook fast so if you are using any other vegetable boil till the vegetable is soft.
5. Mash the toor dal and add it to the tamarind extract and vegetables and if required add a cup more of water.
6. Add salt.
7. Place the lid and let it cook for another whistle or if without pressure cooking on the stove top for about 6-8 minutes.
Note: If using drumstick which takes a slightly longer time to cook, precook for about 8-10 in about 1/4 cup of water and then add to the sauteing onions. Do not discard the cooking water. It can be added in as well along with the tamarind water. If using okra they have to be cooked differently (required its own recipe).
Serve with rice, rotis, idlis or dosais. It tastes good with pretty much anything.