Friday 17 February 2012

So South

Krishnan Aunty was our neighbour for many years. Her idli,sambhar rubbed off on us as well. I could eat at least four idlis, after a hearty breakfast, much to Ma's consternation. Soon  Mani perfected the art & sambhar became a regular feature of our own kitchen. Transferable jobs take you places & make you meet people. Krishnan Uncle moved away to another posting but Aunty's southern aroma stayed on in our life.

Mani, apart from being a passionate cook, was a Giver. Our idli sambhar chutney would be distributed to many houses in the colony. And how everybody relished it!

There are some things in life that you take for granted . It was Mani & later,Tuli, who made sambhar. I never felt the need to learn it, expecting life to continue as it had. And then, when you head your own home, you want to replicate that same authentic taste & hold on to dear childhood. Multiple phone calls & some youtubes later, you manage to produce as good a sambhar as Krishnan Aunty or Mani! Or Vah Chef, if you please.                                                                                                  
Here's how :)   

How to:
1. Pressure cook the dal to 2- 3 whistles with salt & turmeric. Mash well. The lentil should not be separately seen.

Keep aside.

2. Dry roast the whole spices. [See ingredients for details.]

    Keep the roasted masala in the blender till you do the other half of it.

3. In 2 tsp oil, splutter curry leaves. Add chopped tomato, ginger, garlic & coconut powder. Mix well. Take off the flame.

Do not fry for more than 3 mins. 

4. Add the tomato mixture to the roasted spices, add some water & grind the sambhar masala to a fine paste.

Keep aside.

5. In hot oil, splutter mustard seeds, curry leaves & hing.  

    Saute chopped onions for 3 mins & stir in the mixed  vegetables. Add salt.

   Cook on medium flame by covering the wok/adding water.

   Yes, I've used Brussel sprouts too! Why deprive oneself of greens :)

6. When the vegetables are half cooked, add the sambhar masala. 

    Let the vegetable cook with water for ten minutes. You need not cover the wok now.

  Aaah! By now your whole house is smelling of sambhar :)

7. When the vegetables are almost done, add them to the boiled dal.

    Add the tamarind paste & jaggery. Check for taste.

    Let the sambhar simmer on medium flame for 10mins.

    If only I could transpose the aroma on to this page! 

Grandma's Whisper: Always make sambhar to last for 2 or more days. Day 1, serve with rice. Day 2 let them enjoy it with uttapam. Day 3, idli, dosa...the list is endless.

P had it with rice last night. In silence. "Wah mazaa aa gaya. Hamare canteen mein jaisa banta tha, bilkul waisa!" The tone was ecstatic, the eyes glittering. Having stayed in South India for many years, he should know! 

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