Sambar Masala Ingredients Photo by Alaivani @ flickr

Sambar Masala Ingredients Photo by Alaivani @ flickr

No South Indian feast is complete without the Sambar. The Sambar, according to Wikipedia, is a lentil and vegetable stew or a chowder based on a broth made from Tamarind and Toovar Dal.

The Mumbaiites are believed to have been introduced to the Udupi cuisine in the early 1930’s with the opening of Cafe Mysore in Matunga, a suburb of Mumbai.The owners are from proper Udupi, as opposed to most other ‘Udupi’ restaurants, which are run by Shettys from or around Mangalore.

The difference in the Sambar from these Shetty-run restaurants is that the sambar has been modified to suit the taste buds of their local clientele. They have created a sort of sweet vegetable dal that is suitable for their local clientele. As a result, it has lost its authentic flavor. The Sambar that you get in Udupi is a lot more pungent, aromatic and flavorful.

In my house, sambar is made in a large quantity so as to last atleast 2 days. The first day is spent eating it with idli, dosa etc. The next day the taste of the sambar develops (matures) and all the subtle flavours come to the fore and vie for you attention. This makes it the perfect accompaniment to a plate of steaming white rice.

This is going to be a two part series as first I will put up the Sambar masala and then explain how to make the sambar.

So here goes –

Sambar Masala

Ingredients :

Coriander Seeds : 250 Gm.

Dried Red Chillies (Sankeshwari + Bedgi = 50:50) : 250 Gm.

Turmeric Powder : 25 Gm.

Asafoetida (Hing) : 15 Gm.

Cumin Seeds : 75 Gm.

Black Peppercorns : 50 Gm.

Mustard Seeds : 50 Gm.

Split Black Gram / Black Lentil (Urad Dal) : 100 Gm.

Split Bengal Gram (Chana Dal) : 100 Gm.

Raw Rice : 50 Gm.

Fenugreek Seeds (Methi) : 20 Gm.

Curry Leaves : one bunch

Method :

Dry roast the ingredients individually and then powder them. Keep the masala in an airtight jar and use as required.

One of the first aamchigeli recipes i.e. one from my native place Udupi, that I loved has to be Jirya Miryachi Kadhi. The combination of the cumin and black peppercorns with the added fragrance of garlic was to die for. Especially during the rains,  when one wants something really hot, spicy and fragrant, this is the dish in which I find succor. The rain  splattering incessantly on the terrace roof, the sudden thunderclap and the cold and muggy weather of  Mumbai starts to bring me down. I need comfort, warmth and that’s when I make this dish. The kadhi poured on steaming hot basmati rice is a combination that hits a spot. The ultimate comfort food! So today in my ongoing South Indian recipe series, I present –

Jirya Miryachi Kadhi

Ingredients :

Fresh Grated Coconut : 3/4 th

Dried Red Chillies : 6-8 no.

Cumin Seeds : 1 Tsp.

Black Peppercorns : 8 no.

Skinned Garlic Cloves : From one whole garlic pod + 1 extra garlic pod

Kokum (Dried Mangosteen Peals) : 4 – 6 no.

Coconut oil  : As required

Mustard Seeds : 1 Tsp.

Salt : To taste

Method :

Saute the chillies, cumin, peppercorns and skinned garlic cloves in 2 tsp. of coconut oil and then make a paste with the grated coconut.

To this paste, add about 3 1/2 cups of water and salt to taste ( 1 Tsp.) and add the kokum. Bring to a boil and remove.

Tempering (Tadka) : Take 2-3 Tsp. of coconut oil in a tadka pan and to this add the mustard seeds and let them crackle. Now add the crushed garlic cloves from the other pod ( no need to skin these cloves). When the garlic cloves are brown, add this tadka to the kadhi. Mix well and serve hot with white rice.

P. S. : Do not boil the kadhi for too long as it tends to change the taste of the kadhi and also thins it.

A few days ago, I attended a wedding. I went with my mother and aunt. We were very late and missed the ceremony, but managed to be on time for lunch. 🙂

Both the bride and groom were from the Southern Indian state of Tamilnadu. So the cuisine was a typical TamBram affair. The last time I ate a south Indian wedding feast was at least few years ago. This was my first Tamil wedding, so I was looking forward to the feast.

They put a nice, big banana leaf in front of us. Then followed a slew of accompaniments. There was a chutney (gojju), a mixed raita, a raw mango pickle ( my favorite in any feast), spiced banana wafers, a wada and a fried papadum. The papadum was huge compared to the puny ones I usually eat.

There were four vegetable dishes – an avial, a mixed vegetable dish with a coconut gravy, a mildly spiced potato dish and a Foogath. The foogath was nice – shredded cabbage, carrots and beans with slit green chilies and sprinkled liberally with freshly grated coconut.

There were also four katories filled with spicy rasam, payasam, buttermilk and curd. The payasam was way too sweet for me.

On the whole, a very satisfying meal indeed with the exception of the wada and avial.

This made me think as to why I haven’t put up more south Indian recipes. I am from the southern Indian state of Karnataka ( for the nitpickers, I am from Udupi, Mangalore). So I have decided to start with recipes from my state first.

Today I will introduce you to a wonderful breakfast dish, deceptively called Buns. It in no way resembles a bun, but is more like a sweet puri. it derives its sweetness from the banana and has a nice kick added by black pepper.

The picture of Mangalore Buns is courtesy Khalnayak. You can check out his pictures on Flickr by clicking on this link here – Khalnayak


Ingredients :

Maida (Refined Flour) : 2 cups or as required

Overripe Banana : 1 no.

Jaggery : 3-4 Tbsp.

Soda Bi Carb : 1/4 Tsp.

Sour Curd : 2 Tsp.

Roasted Cumin (Jeera) : 1 Tsp.

Crushed Black Pepper : 1/4 Tsp.

Salt : to taste

Ghee : for deep frying

Method :

Mash the banana with salt and jaggery and then add the curd, cumin, black pepper, and soda bi carb. Now add the maida to form a dough. Use maida and water as required to make dough. Apply some oil or ghee to cover it and keep overnight to ferment. In the morning, devide the dough evenly into balls. Then roll the dough a little thicker then for a puri (about 1/8 inch). Then deep fry the puris in hot ghee on both sides. Drain on paper.

The puri needs no accompaniments. You just need a cup of steaming, fragrant, flavorful cup of south Indian filter coffee. Aah Heaven!!!

I saw this recipe on a TV show and loved it. So I made a few changes to the recipe according to my taste and here is the “improved” version.

Ingredients :

Oil : 4 Tbsp.

Gram Flour (बेसन) : 1/2 cup

Fenugreek Seeds : 1/2 tsp.

Mustard Seeds : 1 tsp.

Cumin Seeds : 1 tsp.

White Gourd (लौकी) : 250 gms.

Cauliflower Florettes : 250 gms.

Carrots : 200 gms.

Cluster (गवार) Beans : 150 gms.

Drumsticks : 8 nos.

Potatoes : 3 small

Brinjals : 200 gms.

Okra ( Ladies Fingers) : 200 gms.

Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp.

Red Chilli Powder : 2 Tbsp.

Tomato Puree : 3 Tbsp.

Tamarind Pulp : 1 Tbsp.

Jaggery : 1 Tbsp.

Curry Leaves : 8 nos.

Chopped Coriander Leaves : 2 Tbsp.

Method :

Cut the gourd, carrots, potatoes, brinjals into cubes. The cubes should be of the same size( 1 1/2″ pieces). Snip off the ends of beans and cut into 2″ pieces. Cut off the ends of the okra and give it a lengthwise slit. Then fry the okra till brown. Cut drumsticks into 2″ pieces.
In a pot, heat 3 tbsp. of oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and saute till the mustard seeds crackle. Then add the gram flour and saute till it is nicely browned. Then add about 3 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Now add the gourd cubes, florettes, carrot cubes, beans, drumsticks and potato cubes. Add salt to taste and cover and cook till almost done( about 75%).
Now add the brinjals and cover and cook again for 5 minutes.
Now add the fried okra, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, tomato puree, tamarind pulp, jaggery and curry leaves . Add salt to taste and let this cook for a few minutes. garnish with chopped coriander.
Serve with white rice or a bread of your choice.

I learnt this dish while working as a trainee for a five star hotel in Mumbai. Till then the only time I had eaten this dish was in my college. Our batch had to prepare food for the rest of the college, including the teachers, three times a week. So , even though we prepared this dish under our trainer’s guidance, it still had that taste that dishes have, when prepared by inexperienced chefs. So when I first tasted the same dish in the hotel, I was blown away. It is such a simple dish, yet it has such a multitude of tastes. The tanginess of the tomatoes, the spice of the chillies, the aroma of the garam masalas and the rich, creamy taste of the butter and cream. Add to that the slight bitter taste of the Kasuri Methi and you have the most perfect dish ever. No wonder even the most ferocious looking Punjabi goes soft in the knees, when one mentions “Maa Ki Dal”. This is my version of the dish, as I have seen it prepared. Enjoy!


Whole Black Gram : 1 Cup; Chana Dal (Bengal Gram) : 1/4 Cup;

Red Kidney Beans (Rajma) : 1/4 Cup; Ginger Garlic Paste : 3 Tb;

Chopped Green Chillies : 3 no; Chopped Garlic : 1 1/2 Tb;

Chopped Onions : 2 large; Chopped Tomatoes : 300 Gms;

Toamato Puree : 3 Tb; Red Chilli Powder : 1 Tb;

Garam Masala Powder : 2 tsp; Kasuri Methi Powder : 1 tsp;

White Butter : 150 Gms; Fresh Cream : 100 ml;

Salt and Sugar: to taste; Chopped Coriander : 1 Tb.

Ghee : 1Tb; Oil : 2 Tb.

Method :

Wash, rinse and soak the black gram, kidney beans and the bengal gram overnight or for 7-8 hours. Then add 1 Tb. of ginger garlic paste and 1 Tb. ghee to this mix and pressure cook till they are overcooked. Then using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the lentils beyond all recognition.
In a frypan, add oil and fry the chopped onions, garlic and green chillies till they are translucent. Now add the remaining ginger garlic paste(2Tb.) and saute. Then add the tomatoes anda pinch of salt and fry till the tomatoes are completely cooked and you get a saucelike consistency. Add the red chilli and garam masala powders and saute for 30 seconds.Now add the tomato puree and the mashed lentils and bring to boil. Then add the sugar and salt to taste and simmer for about 30 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the dal inbetween as it tends to stick to the bottom of the pan. Now add the kasuri methi powder and finish off with butter and cream. Simmer for a further 2 minutes and remove. Garnish with chopped coriander.
Serve hot with tandoori roti or white rice.

P.S. : For some inexplicable reason, this dal tastes a lot better after a day or so in the refrigerator.