Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What Started Off as a Prata Dip [Sambar]

Tired of noodles and cooking, I decided to make instant prata for dinner one night. However, I could never bring myself to eat prata with sugar. Prata is suppose to be savory, not sweet! So this meant that I had to make a dip for the prata, something spicy or savory or both. Since it had been some time since we had sambar at home, I wanted to make a modified version of it, something that you'd get from the prata shop - just dahl without the vegetables. 

However, though that was how I started off, I couldn't help myself and ended up adding a brinjal, carrot and some french beans. Sambar is versatile in that way that just about any vegetable works so well the gravy. Also, when my mother makes it, she thickens it with some milk but in India, my aunts add grated coconut. Since I had neither at home, I just increased the amount of dahl to enhance the thickness. Feel free to add coconut milk or grated coconut - whichever is more handy.

Typical Prata Dip

75g toor dahl
700ml water
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
pinch of asafetida (optional)
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
2 green chilies
1 brinjal, sliced thickly (optional)
1 carrot, sliced thickly (optional)
5 French Beans, cut into pieces (optional)
1 tablespoon tamarind paste (abt quail egg sized amount of tamarind with a little water)
1 tsp oil
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon cumin
3 dried chilli
1 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon chili powder


1) Wash the toor dahl and soak it in water for about an hour or more. 
2) In a pot, add the toor dahl and 700ml of water. Add the turmeric, asafetida, salt, garlic and green chilies. 
3) Bring to boil and simmer until the dahl completely disintegrates (a pressure cooker helps speed up the process).
4) Add the vegetables and continue to simmer until cooked.
5) Add the tamarind paste and adjust the salt to taste.
6) In a small wok, heat a teaspoon of oil.
7) Add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin and dried chilli. (Be careful of splattering).
8) Add the sliced onions and saute until golden brown. 
9) Add the chili powder and continue to saute until the chili powder turns a darker red.
10) Add this mixture into the dahl and stir well. Sambar is ready to be served. 

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